NFL Wide Receiver Arrested for Reckless Driving – What is the difference between careless and reckless driving in New Jersey & Pennsylvania?
What happened to NFL player Chris Olave?
Recently, Chris Olave, an NFL wide receiver with the New Orleans Saints was arrested on reckless driving charges in Louisiana. While our criminal defense law firm is not licensed there, this case presents an opportunity to explain reckless vs. careless driving in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Olave was allegedly driving over 70 MPH in a 35 MPH zone which led to his arrest.
He was allegedly weaving in and out of lanes in a residential area. He was released a few hours later but he likely faces potential county jail, a license suspension, a substantial fine and perhaps even a suspension under the NFL’s Collective Bargaining Agreement.
Our law firm frequently defends traffic offenses in New Jersey and Pennsylvania involving reckless and careless driving. While these are not as serious as crimes involving the illegal possession of illegal drugs, narcotics, guns, or firearms, they can cause a driver to lose his or his license or driving privileges.
Careless vs. Reckless Driving in New Jersey
These offenses can be charged in addition to speeding under Sections 39:4-98 and 39:4-97.2. It is also not uncommon that people charged with speeding, reckless, or careless driving in New Jersey will also have to defend the charge of following too closely under 39:4-89 and sometimes even racing on the highway under 39:4-52. It is important to understand that each and every one of these charges has an element in which the prosecution must meet beyond a reasonable doubt in New Jersey’s Municipal Court for the County in which it was committed.
Reckless driving (39:4-96) which carries 5 points is committed when a person drives his or her car “heedlessly, in willful or wanton disregard” of the rights of safety of others, in the manner that endangers of likely endangers a person or property. Reckless driving subjects a person of up to 60 days in jail and a maximum fine of $200.00. A second offense subjects a person of up to 3 months in jail and up to a $500.00 fine.
Careless driving is committed when the person drives the vehicle “without due caution and circumspection” or in such a way that it endangers or likely endangers a person or property. Careless driving carries with it 2 points and is obviously a much better alternative to reckless driving.
A speeding ticket in New Jersey can carry with it anywhere from 2 points (1-14 miles over the speed limit) to up to 5 points (30 miles or more over the speed limit) but a person driving at a high rate of speed is often charged with following too closely under 39:4-89 which carries 5 points. A person is guilty of following too closely when he or she is closer than “reasonable and prudent”.
Traffic Points and Your Driver’s License
Points are very serious in New Jersey just like Pennsylvania and a person who acquires 12 or more points will have his or her license suspended in the Garden State. Points are only deducted in the following ways:
- defensive driving program – 2 points – may be used to subtract points once every 5 years;
- driver improvement program – 3 points – may be used to subtract points once every 2 years;
- probationary driver program – 3 points; or
- one year with no violations – 3 points.
Even if you don’t have 12 points on your New Jersey driver’s license, a person who receives 6 or more points within three years will be assessed a surcharge. Surcharges are in addition to any courts or fines or penalties and are billed yearly for 3 years. If you accumulate 6 or more points within 3 years you will receive a $150.00 surcharge plus $25.00 for each additional point over 6 points. For instance, there is a $1,000.00 surcharge for the 1st and 2nd DWI offense.
If you do acquire 12 or more points on your license the length of the suspension depends on the amount of time it took you to accumulate those points. For example, if you acquired 12 or more points within 2 years or less there is a 30 day suspension. If it took you more than 2 years to accumulate 12-14 points it would be less than 30 days. For more information on New Jersey driving offenses I encourage you to visit my free download section continue reading my blog and previous articles on DWI, license suspensions, and illegal drugs in the Garden State.
Careless vs. Reckless Driving in Pennsylvania
In Pennsylvania, similar to New Jersey, Carless and reckless driving are terms that many people believe the law uses interchangeably. This, again, however is simply wrong. Careless driving is actually the lesser of these two charges and is defined as driving a motor vehicle in this manner (carless) but not with any type of deliberation or intent causing an accident. You can commit the crime of careless driving by falling asleep at wheel. Careless driving is a summary offense but will not result in a license suspension.
Reckless driving, however, requires the prosecution prove intent. Intent in this context means that you were acting deliberately irresponsible or “recklessly”. If you are convicted of reckless driving in Pennsylvania, you face not only a fine but also a six (6) month license suspension. If reckless driving involved an injury there is a $1,000.00 fine and up to ninety (90) days in jail. Careless driving is a violation of Section 3736 under the Pennsylvania Vehicle Code while reckless driving is violation of Section 3714 under the Pennsylvania Vehicle Code.
If you are charged with reckless or careless driving in New Jersey or Pennsylvania contact our criminal defense lawyers today!
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