Reckless Driving

Reckless Driving

Reckless driving is considered a misdemeanor crime in the state of New Jersey. The formal name for it is “reckless of motor vehicle”. For a driver to be deemed as having been reckless, the element of wantonness or willfulness in the disregard for safety of others should be proven. The prosecution has the burden to prove this beyond reasonable doubt in order for an accused person to be convicted.

Reckless Driving

Penalties for Reckless Driving

Reckless driving can have severe consequences and punishments depending on the circumstances behind it. A reckless driving conviction, depending on the extent of damage as a result of the driver’s recklessness, can result in the following:

  • Deportation for non-citizens of the USA
  • Revocation of parole for those released on parole
  • A criminal record under misdemeanor crimes
  • Hefty fines
  • Possible jail term
  • Driver’s license can be suspended or altogether revoked

First-time reckless driving offenses may attract fines of between $50 and $200 and a jail term of up to 60 days. If, however, the convicted person had a similar conviction in the past, this can result in a sentence as long as 90 days, up to $500 in fines and five points added to your driving record.

Because of the severity of these penalties, many drivers who are guilty agree to a plea bargain with the prosecution, whereby they plead guilty for a less grievous offense like speeding or any other minor traffic offense.

Penalties for Reckless Driving
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Elements of Reckless Driving

According to New Jersey Law, a person will be accused of reckless driving if they demonstrate deliberate (willful) or malicious (wanton) disregard for the safety and rights of others in such a way as poses a danger to persons and/or property.

Careless Driving

Careless driving in New Jersey is essentially a less grievous version of reckless driving. By law, it is defined as driving without due caution, in a way that poses danger to another person and/or property. This loosely defines swerving, speeding, riding too close to other vehicles, careless overtaking, among others. Careless driving convictions add 2 points to your driving record and attract a fine.

Reckless Driving Conviction

Possible Defenses

A reckless driving charge can be defended by arguing that the state law or local ordinance under which the crime is being charged does not clearly define the offense. This would make the law unconstitutional hence void on the grounds of ambiguity. This, however, is commonly overthrown in a majority of cases.

The following conduct has been found in a number of previous cases to be insufficient if considered in itself to constitute reckless driving:

  • Committing ‘simple’ traffic infractions or violations e.g. not stopping at a red light
  • Unexpected braking on a slippery road, which results in skidding
  • Driving with no headlights
  • Making a U-turn without indicating to other motorists appropriately
  • Involved in a traffic accident
  • Driving inattentively
  • Speeding
  • Driving after having alcohol (under the state intoxication limit)

Any of the above actions, considered separately, cannot support a conviction under reckless driving, but in any combination could prove sufficient to gain a conviction for the prosecution.

Elements of Reckless Driving

Defense Attorneys

Expert Legal Advice

Reckless driving is a very serious offence with heavy penalties. It’s therefore important for you to immediately find expert legal representation as soon as you have been charged. Contact our traffic violations defense attorneys at Zapicchi & Liller, who have decades of experience litigating various traffic offenses with over 90% success rate.

Careless Driving
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