In New Jersey careless driving is not a serious offense, but it can have collateral consequences. Particularly, if the violation involves a motor vehicle accident causing personal injury or property damage to another. With motor vehicle accidents you have to keep in mind that anything you say can be used against you in a subsequent superior court law suit over money damages. Your conviction would be proof that you caused the accident. So if you are involved in an auto accident you should request what is called a civil reservation.
If you have been charged with careless driving, you face a fine of $50 to $200, up to 15 days in jail, $33 court costs, and 2 points on your license. I rarely recommend that you accept an amendment of careless driving to unsafe operation (39:4-97.2), unless other tickets are also being dismissed. Unsafe operation is a zero point offense but it is a much higher fine. You can only have two unsafe operations in a five year period, so it rarely makes sense to amend a two point ticket to a zero point ticket given the how rarely you can use this option.
What does the State have to prove to convict you of careless driving?
The State must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you drove “carelessly, or without due caution and circumspection, in a manner so as to endanger, or be likely to endanger, a person or property.” This can be difficult to prove. If there was an accident, the officer typically arrives after the accident. It is rare that the accident happens right in front of the police officer. Generally, the only way for the State to prove its case against you is for the witnesses to come to court and testify against you. If no witnesses come to court, the charges will likely be dismissed.
What can I do?
If you have received a traffic ticket in Monmouth or Ocean County, especially one that arose out of an accident, you can:
- Download our free traffic ticket book “Why Pleading Guilty to your New Jersey Traffic Ticket is NOT an option by clicking on the title,”
- Download our DUI book, “Arrested for Drunk Driving? Learn How to Beat the Odds,”
- On the menu on the right you will find our immigration books including a tool to help you figure out if you qualify for legal status,
- You contact me through this site or the chat feature; or
- You can call our knowledgeable staff at 888-695-6169