Brick Township is a large and busy town in Ocean County. Each day during rush hour, cars pack the streets trying to get from Point A to Point B. As Brick residents and other New Jersey citizens try to make their way through, the streets become extremely congested, with drivers becoming impatient. Ask anyone in Brick—Route 70, Brick Boulevard, Cedarbridge Avenue, and the areas leading out towards the Garden State Parkway are a free-for-all during those busy rush hour weekdays and weekend mornings. Brick Township law enforcement officers keep a keen eye on unsafe driving in Brick townships hotspots. As police crack down on unsafe driving, traffic tickets for “reckless” and “careless” driving are issued.
Many people are unaware of the distinction between “reckless” and “careless” driving. This is especially confusing when law enforcement charges a driver with both offenses simultaneously—something that is a frequent occurrence on New Jersey streets. In order to protect your rights, you should make it a point to know the difference between reckless and careless driving in New Jersey. If you don’t know what these offenses mean, you may expose yourself to different types of traffic tickets, which will lead to points on your driver’s license, and even driver’s license suspension after multiple violations. If you have been charged with reckless or careless driving in Brick Township, you will need a traffic defense attorney. Too many drivers make the mistake of simply pleading guilty and paying for their ticket in Brick Township Municipal Court. Speak to an attorney before making this move.
The statute N.J.S.A. 39:4-97 describes careless driving. It states:
“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.”
Unbeknownst to many, reckless driving is a more serious offense than careless driving. Under N.J.S.A. 39:4-96, reckless driving is defined as when an individual:
“drives heedlessly, in willful or wanton disregard for the safety of others, in a manner that can endanger or is likely to endanger a person or property.”
The penalties for a first-time careless driving charge include a $200 fine and 2 points on the driver’s driving license. For a first offense reckless driving charge, penalties include a fine up to $200, 5 points to be added to the driver’s license, potential license suspension, and up to 60 days in jail.
Reckless driving carries harsher penalties than a careless driving violation. Reckless driving is a more serious offense because in those situations, the driver actually intends to drive dangerously—as seen in the statute’s definition, a reckless driver engages in “willful disregard of the safety of others.” In other words, if you drive in a dangerous manner, and you are aware that you are doing so, you may find yourself liable for reckless driving. This is where the difference between reckless and careless driving comes in. If the driver was merely accidental in their unsafe driving, a careless driving charge would fit the situation. As a society, we tend to punish people more harshly if we determine they acted intentionally. For example, if someone is tailgating another on Route 70 East, a law enforcement officer may issue them a ticket for reckless driving. On the other hand, a careless driving ticket would be more appropriate when a driver in the Brick Plaza parking lot forgets to check their rear view mirror before driving in reverse.
As mentioned, a driver may end up with charges for both reckless and careless driving in one single incident. After only one traffic stop, drivers may find themselves at risk of a driver’s license suspension. Aside from the driver’s license points, these offenses carry penalties in the form of fines and possible jail time. In this way, one traffic stop can create a stack of negative consequences.
The traffic defense attorneys at Villani & DeLuca can help you navigate the municipal court system after a traffic stop. For over two decades, our attorneys have handled cases involving traffic violations throughout Ocean and Monmouth County. If you are facing reckless driving or careless driving charges after a traffic stop in Brick, contact Villani & DeLuca today.