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Careless Driving

NJSA 39:4-97Careless Driving

Careless driving is one of the most common traffic offenses handled in municipal court. Commonly, but not always, this ticket is issued to a driver who is deemed to be at fault for a motor vehicle accident. A person who drives carelessly, or without due caution and circumspection, in a manner so as to endanger, or be likely to endanger, a person or property, shall be guilty of careless driving under N.J.S.A. 39:4-97.

The most important thing to remember is a careless driving conviction will result in 2 points on your driving record. This can cause your insurance premium to go up in price and depending on how many points you already have your insurance may become very expensive. One of our experienced municipal court defense attorneys can negotiate with the prosecutor to get the charges dismissed or downgraded to a no-point violation. In some cases, we elect to go to trial, because careless driving is not always an easy case for the state to prove.

For example, careless driving is frequently charged when there is an accident, even though the police didn't see the accident happen. There may or may not be another car involved. Regardless, in our experience we find that a careless driving charge when an accident is involved is frequently unjustified.

In addition to 2 points, if you are convicted of or plead guilty to careless driving the Court must fine you between $50 to $200 plus $33 in court costs and a $6 assessment fee. Although unusual, the Court also has the discretion to imprison you for up to 15 days in jail. These fines are doubled when the careless driving offense occurs in an area with a designated speed limit of 65 mph or if it is a designated construction zone.

The careless driving statute is similar to the reckless driving statute. However, the penalties are less severe. The key distinction between the two offenses revolves around the fact that if you were carelessly driving you were doing so with a less culpable mind set, but there is an element of intent read into the satute. On the other hand if you were recklessly driving then you were "intentionally" driving in a manner likely to endanger a person or property.

Even though careless driving is a common traffic offense it should not be taken lightly. A conviction resulting in points and fines can be an expensive inconvenience. Let one of our knowledgeable and skilled attorneys advocate for you.

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