Reckless driving is one of the most serious traffic violations that you can be ticketed for.
A conviction can land you in jail, lead to a license suspension, ruin your driving record, cause your insurance to skyrocket more than every other traffic offense except DUI/DWI, and cost you an arm and a leg in out of pocket expenses.
Reckless Driving Basics
Many times an officer will charge you with reckless driving even though your conduct actually constituted a different offense entirely.
For example, if you were erratically changing lanes, you might get a reckless driving ticket even though you really ought to be receiving an unsafe lane change ticket.
Not only that, but officers also give these out if they cannot really figure out what you did wrong yet deem your actions irresponsible.
Many times, this ends up being extremely unfair because the penalties for reckless driving are far more severe than for the tamer ticket that ought to have been issued.
However, an experienced NJ traffic ticket lawyer will be able to persuade a judge that the charge is unfounded or negotiate with a prosecutor for a favorable plea bargain.
Failing to hire an attorney for a reckless driving charge is––quite frankly––playing with fire. The consequences of representing yourself and losing are far too dire.
Penalties for Reckless Driving in NJ
First off, a reckless driving conviction will put 5 points on your license, carries a $50-$200 fine, and could land you in jail for up to 60 days.
Moreover, due to the severity of a reckless driving charge, the judge has the discretion to suspend your license indefinitely.
Aside from that, your insurance premium will go through the roof.
According to the insurance calculator on InsuranceQuotes.com, your NJ auto insurance could skyrocket by 88%.
That means for a modest policy of only $1,000 per year, your premium will go up by $880 every year. That insurance hike could stick for 4 years or more.
Think about it: in auto insurance hikes alone––on a $1,000 policy––the long-term cost of a reckless driving conviction could be over $3,520! (to say nothing about the fine itself, potential jail time, loss of your license, etc.)
What the Prosecutor Needs to Prove
Reckless driving in New Jersey is legally defined as driving a vehicle in a willful or wanton disregard of the rights or safety of others and in a manner that endangers (or is likely to endanger) a person or property.
In order for the prosecutor to prove his case he has to prove––among other things––that you were consciously aware that what you were doing posed a risk to the public.
Similarly, he or she needs to show concrete evidence that you were endangering or were likely to endanger a person or property.
When you have a NJ traffic ticket lawyer defending you, he will do all he can to make sure that neither of those two conditions can be met.
Before litigating your reckless driving case, your attorney will first do what he can to get you a favorable plea bargain.
The difference between reckless driving and careless driving is the intent you had. If you “knowingly” or “purposely” endangered yourself or others on the road, then you can be charged with reckless driving.
However, if you were simply negligent and had no bad will or intent, you can only be charged with careless driving.
Consequently, your lawyer might try to get you a reduction from reckless to careless driving (only a 2 point offense with a lower insurance hike) and the prosecutor may go along with it due to the difficulty of proving that you “knowingly” or “purposely” did it.
More often than not, however, your attorney will try to negotiate your ticket down to an even lower offense like obstructing traffic (NJSA 39:4-67), unsafe operation (NJSA 39:4-97.2), or a parking ticket.
Who Should You Contact?
If you recently received a traffic ticket for reckless driving in New Jersey (NJSA 39:4-96), contact Michael Botton of The Botton Law Firm today at 732-894-3686. His team of trained reckless driving defense attorneys will fight to get your points and fines reduced while keeping you out of jail and saving you from losing your license.