New Jersey has one of the country's most broad definitions of careless driving: driving a vehicle without due caution or carelessly in a way that endangers or is likely to endanger property or other people. This broad definition means it is very easy to be charged with careless driving, and it is one of the most common traffic violations in the state.
Careless driving is a less serious offense than reckless driving. While the language of the statute is similar to that of reckless driving, the penalties for careless driving are much lower because of intent. Reckless driving means intentionally behaving in a manner that endangers others, while careless driving means unintentionally endangering others. While a driver who is distracted and gets into an accident did not mean to behave unsafely, but did so regardless.
There are also no enhanced penalties for a second or any subsequent offenses. This is viewed as a catch-all statute, and it includes all negligent offenses.
Examples of careless driving include, lane drifting, driving while distracted, or falling asleep while driving.
The fine for a careless driving ticket is usually between $78 and $200, although conviction will result in two points against your driver's license. These points will not expire, and several additional offenses will accumulate over time. If you get six points on your record within three years, you will face another fine. If you get 12 points at any time, your driver's license will be suspended. You may also face higher car insurance premiums as well as surcharges.
Because a careless driving charge can have long-lasting consequences, it is a good idea to consider assistance from New Jersey traffic ticket attorney Mark Bernstein, to potentially get your case dismissed and preserve your driving record.