What Constitutes Reckless Driving?

What Is Reckless Driving in New Jersey?

Reckless Driving

Reckless driving is a serious motor vehicle infraction in New Jersey, with the potential to add five points to your driving record, as well as five insurance points. While your license will not automatically be suspended in the aftermath of a reckless driving conviction, the court does have the discretion to impose a temporary loss of driving privileges, and the conviction can cause you to accumulate enough points for probation or suspension of your license. In addition to the points, you may have to pay a fine (up to $200) and may be sentenced to jail time (60 days for a first offense, 90 days for a repeat offense).

Though reckless driving is commonly associated with driving while intoxicated or traveling at high rates of speed, the prosecutor does not have to show either of those factors to be present to obtain a conviction. Under the law, the state must show that you were operating a vehicle “heedlessly in willful or wanton disregard for the rights or safety of others” and that you were consciously aware that your driving posed a risk to the general public. You can be charged with reckless driving, even if there was no one anywhere near you, if your driving was likely to endanger a passenger, another person or property of any kind.

Many people often confuse reckless driving with “careless driving.” With reckless driving, the prosecution must show some form of intent, that you either knowingly or purposely endangered yourself and others. With careless driving, which carries a lesser penalty, the state needs only to show that you were negligent.

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