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Can I plead not guilty to a careless driving charge?

On Behalf of | Dec 9, 2019 | Traffic Violations |

One of the most common traffic offenses in the Garden State is careless driving. Careless driving occurs when a motorist drives recklessly, without caution or in a way that endangers others on the road. A driver may be charged with careless driving when deemed at-fault for an accident, both those involving other vehicles and single-car accidents where a driver damages a road sign or other property.

Although law enforcement may not witness the accident, an officer can issue a careless driving charge based on the purported facts of the crash if he or she thinks you were driving irresponsibly. However, police cannot just assume that the reason for the crash was carelessness. A careless driving charge could be unjustified if based on another’s opinion or misinformation.

An unintentional offense

While a careless driving ticket is less severe than a reckless driving charge, it can still result in 2 points on your driving record if you are convicted. The distinction between the two offenses lies in the driver’s intent. If accused of driving carelessly, it is assumed you did so without the intent to do something wrong.

Sometimes, even ordinarily cautious drivers make a mistake when behind the wheel. Conversely, a motorist can get ticketed for a traffic violation even when not guilty. If the facts of the charge are questionable, it may be in your best interest to explore whether you should have received a ticket for careless driving at all.

Determining your stance: a guilty or not guilty plea

When facing any serious driving offense, you may be tempted to take advantage of New Jersey’s Unsafe Driving statute. This statute allows you to plea bargain to a downgraded charge that will not result in points on your driving record.

Keep in mind, plea bargaining to a “lesser” charge is discretionary and not mandatory and should only be used when the benefits outweigh the penalties of the original charge. Pleading not guilty in cases where the prosecution’s evidence against you is ambiguous or non-existent could provide a better outcome.

The outcome of any trial is not certain. But if you dispute the facts of your alleged offense, it may make sense to fight the charge. To explore your options, contact the firm at 908-643-6801 or via email to schedule a free consultation.



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