In a word, yes. For your first reckless driving conviction, it is possible to have to spend up to sixty days in county jail. For a second or subsequent offense, this jail term rises to ninety days. In addition to these possible jail sentences, you may be required to pay fines of up to $500.
What Is The Reckless Driving Law In New Jersey?
Under N.J.S.A. 39:4-96, reckless driving is defined as any act of driving a motor vehicle with the willful or wanton disregard for other people's personal safety or property. Any act of driving a vehicle with the intent to endanger another person or his or her property can be considered to be reckless driving. The following are examples of behaviors that can be considered to be reckless driving:
- Driving while intoxicated
- Ignoring posted traffic signals such as stop signs and traffic lights
- Road rage and other aggressive acts committed against other drivers
- Distracted driving. This can include the use of a cell phone, eating while driving, applying make up while driving or interacting inappropriately with other vehicle occupants while driving.
What Are The Consequences?
If you are convicted of reckless driving in New Jersey, five points are added to your driver's license. Five points on your license brings you dangerously close to New Jersey's point limit for a license surcharge, which is six points. Any motorist with six or more points on his or her driver's license must pay a surcharge to the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission for three years. This is why it's crucial to work with an experienced criminal defense attorney to build a strong defense for your reckless driving case. In certain circumstances, an experienced attorney can help you have your sentence reduced to a careless driving charge.
What Is Careless Driving?
Careless driving is a similar, but much less severe, charge. It is defined in N.J.S.A. 39:4-97 as any act of operating a vehicle without the proper caution for others' property and safety. Like reckless driving, careless driving puts pedestrians and other motorists in danger. The difference is the intent behind the dangerous driving. Reckless driving charges are reserved for motorists who intentionally drive in an aggressive manner that puts others in harm's way. Careless driving is just that – driving in a careless manner that creates a risky environment for others. The following are some examples of behaviors that could be considered to be careless driving:
- Unsafe passing
- Failure to maintain one's lane
- Failing to keep a safe driving distance between vehicles
- Falling asleep while driving
The penalties for careless driving are two points on your driver's license, a fine of $50 to $200, and a possible prison term of up to fifteen days.
Careless and reckless driving charges are often accompanied by charges for other offenses. For example, an aggressive driver who is also found to have a blood alcohol content higher than .08% may be charged with both reckless driving and driving while intoxicated. In New Jersey, any driver who acquires twelve points on his or her license faces a license suspension.
Find A Defense Lawyer In New Jersey
If you've been charged with reckless or careless driving in New Jersey and want to work with an experienced attorney who can help you work toward a lesser penalty, call Villani and DeLuca today at (732) 709-7757 for your free legal consultation. Villani and DeLuca have proudly served New Jersey residents together since 1996 and will give your case the dedication and attention to detail it deserves. Don't wait to make that call – the team of experienced attorneys at Villani and DeLuca is here to advocate for you.