McLaughlin & Nardi’s New Jersey Municipal Court Attorneys
Our municipal court attorneys defend drivers accused of careless driving in New Jersey’s municipal courts. We have had considerable success defending motorists in municipal court against careless driving charges. We are conveniently located in Totowa, New Jersey, but appear in municipal courts throughout northern and central New Jersey.
According to New Jersey law, a person is guilty of careless driving when driving a vehicle without due caution and circumspection, in a manner so as to endanger or be likely to endanger, people or property. New Jersey Administrative Code extends the rules for careless driving to state parking areas and to drivers of motorized bicycles. Careless driving is considered a less serious offense than reckless driving. According to case law,, motor vehicle offenses in New Jersey are considered petty offenses, not crimes. Although reckless driving indicates a need to prove a willfulness or at least disregard of the rights or safety of others, both reckless and careless driving describe the driving as happening “in a manner so as to endanger or be likely to endanger a person or property.”
Unreasonable speed may be a factor in careless driving, but speeding is not necessary for a finding of careless driving under New Jersey traffic law. A vehicle crossing over into the wrong lane of traffic can indicate careless driving. Other examples of careless driving include the driver’s foot slipping from the brake to the accelerator pedal, and not yielding to traffic with the right of way in an intersection. Courts have found the careless driving law to incorporate negligence and a common law standard of care, that people have a duty not to endanger people and property around them. Courts assess two points for a conviction of careless driving.
Courts must find aggravating circumstances before imposing license suspension in careless driving cases. Aggravating circumstances come from evidence, which the judge must weigh in light of the following principles:
- the nature and circumstances of the person’s conduct, including resulting harm or damage;
- the person’s driving record, including the person’s age and length of time as a licensed driver and the number and seriousness of past offenses;
- indications of a substantial risk that the driver will commit another violation based on how recently the past violations took place, and the person’s character and attitude;
- whether a license suspension would cause excessive hardship to the driver or her dependents; and
- the need for personal deterrence.
- Because of the quasi-criminal nature of the careless driving charge, courts must find guilt beyond a reasonable doubt to sustain the charge. Courts cannot rely on the mere fact that an accident took place in proving careless driving. However, courts will support charges of careless driving when substantiated by evidence such as eyewitnesses and expert testimony.
Our attorneys regularly appear in municipal court throughout New Jersey to represent people facing charges there. We can help you avoid the severe penalties that come with conviction of careless driving. The charges can be confusing, and people do not always know their rights. Having the right legal representation is important. E-mail us or call 973-890-0004 to see what we can do for you.