With the exception of drunk driving, most New Jersey traffic infractions just result in a ticket. When a police officer pulls you over, you expect to pay a fine, not to face arrest and criminal charges. Sometimes, however, the officer will decide you didn’t just make a driving mistake but rather committed a crime.
Maybe you made a mistake and turned onto a one-way street going the wrong way and didn’t realize until you saw the blue lights in your rearview mirror. Perhaps an officer pulled you over when your speed was substantially higher than the posted limit. Although you might expect a citation, they might actually decide that your actions are reckless driving.
Instead of a ticket, you will find yourself facing an actual criminal charge.
What is reckless driving in New Jersey?
Reckless driving is an intent-based crime. That means that your charges largely depend on an officer’s perception of your actions. Reckless driving involves knowingly operating a motor vehicle in a manner that puts other people or property at unnecessary risk. Racing, excessive speeding and many other traffic violations could seem like reckless driving, depending on the circumstances and the police officer involved.
Reckless driving will mean five points on your license, as well as up to 60 days in jail and as much as $200 in fines. Usually, a driver will only have jail time or a fine, but if the courts decide their actions created great risk, they could face both.
How do you fight reckless driving charges?
There are numerous defense strategies available to someone accused of reckless driving. For example, you might undermine the officer’s version of what happened by presenting your own explanation, such as misreading the instructions provided by a client and turning onto a one-way street. You could also provide an explanation that makes sense to the courts, such as speeding excessively because your wife is in labor in the seat next to you.
Looking over the information gathered by the police can help you decide which defense strategy might work in your case. Fighting back against reckless driving charges can help you keep your driving record and criminal record clear.