Reckless driving is a crime in many states, including New Jersey. However, what is “reckless?” The statute does not clearly define reckless driving. Therefore, it is up to the law enforcement officer to decide if a driver’s behavior is reckless.
According to New Jersey Revised Statutes § 39:4-96 (2013), reckless driving is defined as follows:
“A person who drives a vehicle heedlessly, in willful or wanton disregard of the rights or safety of others, in a manner so as to endanger, or be likely to endanger, a person or property, shall be guilty of reckless driving…”
The statute adds that the penalties for reckless driving include imprisonment of up to sixty days and a fine of up to $200 for a first offense, and imprisonment of up to three months and a fine of up to $500 for subsequent offenses.
Therefore, reckless driving is not limited to simply driving too fast—it may encompass a range of behaviors. There is no defined speed at which a driver’s behavior suddenly becomes reckless, according to the statute. The totality of the circumstances must be considered in each case.
It should be noted that reckless driving and careless driving are not interchangeable terms. When someone is driving carelessly, most believe that the driver did not mean to break the law. However, with reckless driving, the driver intends to drive without regard to the safety of others.
Examples of reckless driving in New Jersey
A driver may face a reckless driving charge in New Jersey for any of the following behaviors:
- Traveling at an excessive rate of speed (such as more than 100 miles per hour on the interstate)
- Running a red light with an alcohol concentration of below the legal limit
- Weaving through traffic at a high rate of speed
- Failing to obey a traffic signal as pedestrians cross the street
- Failing to stop for a school bus with an alcohol blood content below the legal limit
There are many other ways in which a driver may receive a reckless driving charge.
Reckless driving charges are often subjective. In many cases, the driver’s behavior was not as reckless as the officer claims. With the assistance of an experienced criminal defense attorney, the driver has a much better chance of having these charges reduced or dismissed.
Defenses to reckless driving charges in New Jersey
With the assistance of your attorney, you should be able to build a strong defense in your case. Common defenses to reckless driving charges include:
- Procedural violations on behalf of law enforcement (for example, you were not informed of your Miranda rights)
- No individual or individual’s property was in danger as a result of your driving
- Law enforcement officers mishandled evidence or otherwise damaged your claim
- If you received a reckless driving charge in conjunction with a driving while intoxicated charge, a flawed Breathalyzer test or blood test is often used as a defense
Other defenses may also be possible, depending on the circumstances of the case. To build a strong case, it is essential that you consult an experienced New Jersey criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.
Call Lomurro Law today to schedule a free consultation
At Lomurro Law, our New Jersey criminal defense lawyers understand the devastating impacts a reckless driving charge may have on a driver. We work hard to have your charges reduced or dismissed where allowable by law. To schedule a free consultation with our attorneys, call 732-482-9285 or contact us online.