Nearly 86% of drivers say that they believe it is safe to drive at least 10 miles per hour over the speed limit on highways, with many going much faster than that in practice. While it may sound like a minor infraction, in some cases even a speeding ticket may include a charge for careless driving. In either event, help from an attorney familiar with careless driving may be warranted. To help you understand the process a bit better here is what you need to know about what the law considers careless driving.
What is Careless Driving?
If you are given a citation for careless driving, the exact penalties vary from state to state. Generally, the term refers to failing to operate your vehicle in a safe manner. While careless driving is often unintentional, it can pose a danger to other drivers if it becomes a habit. For reference, the following actions depending on their severity can fall under careless driving, and may be motor vehicle offenses themselves.
- Distracted driving
- Holding a phone while driving
- Illegally changing lanes
- Failing to signal
- Failing to follow traffic signs/signals
- Falling asleep at the wheel
In New Jersey, penalties for careless driving include a fine, and can include points, possible surcharges, and possible jail time. This is in addition to possible and significant insurance increases or surcharges. For cases found to be more serious, you may even be charged with reckless driving. Regardless of your driving record, having an experienced attorney for careless driving on your side can be a benefit.
Careless Driving VS Reckless Driving
Generally, most states have lesser penalties for careless driving and higher penalties for reckless driving. In some instances, a careless driving attorney may be able to get reckless driving charges lowered to careless if a plea deal is put forth, though this will be dependent on circumstances.
In many states, reckless driving includes as an element a “wanton disregard” for traffic laws, and it assumes a level of deliberate recklessness on the part of the driver. Penalties for this can range from a fine to even jail time depending on the case. For instance, if a death or injury occurred due to the reckless driving, the penalty would be more severe.
If alcohol or drugs are involved, you may also be charged with Driving While Intoxicated. If this is the case, hiring the best DWI attorney you can find is highly advisable.
Do You Need an Attorney for a Careless Driving Ticket?
If you have been charged with careless driving, you may not necessarily need a lawyer if the charges are minor. However, a motor vehicle offense attorney could work to lower the fines associated with speeding citations, or other low tier careless driving charges.
On the other hand, if your case involved property damage or injury, it is highly advised that you seek legal advice, either from an attorney who handles careless driving offenses, or a DWI lawyer if alcohol was involved. A lawyer will be able to identify a course of action to allow you to start putting your incident in the rearview mirror.