Two of the most common tickets drivers receive in New Jersey are reckless driving and careless driving. However, while these two offenses may sound the same, they are drastically different.  Many drivers want to know if they can receive both a ticket for careless driving and for reckless driving at the same time because many people believe that these two offenses are the same. However, while careless driving and reckless driving may be similar in many ways, they are by definition two separate offenses.

Reckless Driving Tickets


According to the New Jersey Code Section, 39:4-96. Reckless driving A person who drives a vehicle heedlessly, in willful or wanton disregard for 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. Reckless driving is a serious traffic violation and because it is considered to be so serious that the punishments for being convicted of reckless driving are similar to many criminal offenses. If a driver is convicted of reckless driving they can face several consequences including fines, imprisonment, and an increase insurance rates. If you or a loved one has been charged with reckless driving, it is highly encouraged to contact and experienced New Jersey reckless driving defense attorney immediately.

For a first offense, a reckless driving ticket can cost a New Jersey driver anywhere from fifty dollars up to two hundred dollars. This is just the cost for a single ticket and may not include any court costs and separate fines and penalties. A person who receives a second reckless driving ticket can expect to pay a larger fine for their ticket ranging from fifty dollars up to five hundred dollars. Again, this amount does not reflect the costs imposed by the court. In addition to these hefty fines, a reckless driving conviction can mean more than just opening your wallet. A driver who is convicted of reckless driving can be sentenced to jail time. For a first time reckless driving offense the judge has the discretion to place a driver in jail for up to 60 days. If this is a second time to the court for a reckless driving ticket, a driver may be subject to 90 days in the county jail. While this is a rare consequence, it is not unheard of, particularly when there was an accident involved and a person was injured. In addition, a judge can suspend a driver’s license if they determine that the person is a hazard to the community and other drivers on the road.

Careless Driving Tickets

bigstock Blue And Red Flashing Sirens O 89689898 1 1024x617 - What is the Difference Between Reckless Driving and Careless Driving?

A person who drives a vehicle carelessly, or without due caution and circumspection, in a manner so as to endanger, or be likely to endanger, a person or property, shall be guilty of careless driving per N.J.S.A 39:4-97. Careless driving is a less serious offense compared to reckless driving. In New Jersey, a careless driving ticket is considered a traffic violation, while reckless driving can be considered a criminal offense. Careless driving can also lead to several consequences, which are not as severe as reckless driving, but can still impact a driver. If you are convicted of careless driving you will have 2 points added to your New Jersey Drivers license, where a reckless driving will add an additional 3 points to your driver’s license. The first time a driver is convicted of careless driving can include a fine from anywhere from $85 to $140.

The reckless driving statute is similar to the careless driving statute. However, the penalties are more severe. The key distinction between the two offenses revolves around the idea of intent. In a situation where a driver is charged with careless driving, it will be assumed that the driver was acting with no intention to break the law. However, while you may think this would absolve a driver of responsibility, it is important to remember that drivers have a duty to drive carefully and when they do not, they can be charged with careless driving. As the intention is the key difference between a careless driving ticket and a reckless driving ticket, in order to convict a driver of reckless driving, the state will have to prove that the driver was acting on purpose when they were driving.  The statute for reckless driving uses the language “wanton disregard,” which is a much higher standard than merely careless. This is a very important distinction and can make all the difference in a case.

Charged With Reckless Driving? Let Our Atlantic City Criminal Defense Attorneys Fight for You

If you are facing reckless driving charges after spending time in the Atlantic City area, the strategic and experienced Atlantic City criminal defense lawyers of the Law Firm of John J. Zarych can fight for you. We are experienced in standing up to prosecutors and will pursue a legal strategy that is likely to result in the reduction or elimination of the penalties you face. To schedule a free and confidential initial consultation for your reckless driving ticket or citation call our firm at (609) 616-4956 or contact us online today.