Careless driving is one of the most common violations heard in New Jersey traffic court. It also is one of the broadest.
In many ways, careless driving has become a catch-all violation given out by police when they think a driver’s actions on the road are careless, erratic, or improper.
However, many times, careless driving tickets are written when other less serious tickets ought to have been given out.
Consequently, it pays to hire a NJ traffic ticket attorney to help you fight your ticket.
Careless Driving in NJ Basics
The careless driving statute (NJSA 39:4-97) includes a wide-range of conduct.
Its exact language reads:
- “A person who drives a vehicle 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.”
The legislature left phrases like “careless,” “without due caution,” and “endangering” are intentionally vague in order to give police officers tremendous discretion when it comes to ticketing you.
Moreover, like in all traffic ticket cases, the State bears the burden of proof. Remember, it is not your lawyer’s job to prove your innocence, it is the State’s job to prove your guilt.
In order to do that, the prosecutor needs to prove:
- You were the driver
- What you drove counts as a “vehicle” by law
- You were driving on a highway
- Your driving was careless or done without caution
- You endangered or were likely to endanger a person or property
Anything short of proving those five elements cannot count as a conviction.
Penalties for Careless Driving in NJ (NJSA 39:4-97)
If you are convicted of careless driving in New Jersey, 2 points will go on your license.
You also will be fined $85 and can be forced to serve up to 15 days in jail (although it is rarely imposed).
Lastly, a conviction will result in an astronomical insurance hike that can end up costing you well over $1,000 in out of pocket expenses.
Due to the subjective nature of the statute, it is crucial to hire an experienced NJ traffic ticket attorney to help you get a fair shake in plea negotiations and in front of the judge.
Who Should You Contact?
If you recently received a careless driving ticket in New Jersey (NJSA 39:4-97), contact Michael Botton of The Botton Law Firm today at 732-894-3686. His team of NJ traffic ticket attorneys have years of experience fighting these kinds of traffic tickets, negotiating with prosecutors, and reducing traffic violations.