Many DWI defense lawyers in Burlington County have had to deal with cases of reckless driving, careless driving, and unsafe driving due to drugs, alcohol, or simply not paying attention. While these attorneys might understand the critical differences between these three charges, it can be disorienting for the general public. People whose driving record, insurance premiums, and even freedom are at risk in these cases may not understand the severity of the different charges, because most people use terms like “reckless,” “careless,” and “unsafe” interchangeably.
So, what’s the difference between them in the courtroom?
Here’s a quick breakdown of what you should know about reckless, unsafe, careless, and unsafe driving:
A reckless driving conviction is the one you want to be most cautious about because it comes with the heaviest penalties of the three. In addition to getting points on your license, you can also receive the following penalties for your first conviction:
- Jail time up to 60 days.
- A fine between $50 and $200.
- License suspension for 90 to 180 days
These charges can result in higher insurance premiums and significant disruption to your life, and receiving multiple convictions can come with even steeper penalties. However, reckless driving charges often require proof of two things to make it a conviction:
- Intention to cause harm
- Behavior that endangers others
These two criteria can open the door to pleading down the case or getting the charges dismissed altogether.
Assuming that the prosecutor is open to it or that the evidence supports it, you could get your charges reduced to a careless driving charge. While the penalties for careless driving are still steep, they are far preferable to charges of reckless driving because the fines, jail time, and the number of points assessed is less than you would receive with a reckless driving conviction.
But what is the difference between “reckless” and “careless” driving? Fundamentally, it comes down to intention: a careless driver is driving in a way that endangers others but wasn’t doing it with the aim of threatening their safety. This broad definition of what constitutes “reckless” and “careless” driving could be considered stacking the deck against you, it provides plenty of room for you to find ways to reduce your charges to the lowest penalty of all: unsafe driving.
Unsafe driving can often be charged for circumstances similar to those that would lead to a charge of careless driving. The critical difference between unsafe and careless driving lies in the penalties that you’ll face, which often includes fines, but won’t include points on your license until you’ve been charged multiple times.
If you want to find out more about the differences between reckless, careless, and unsafe driving, or would like to consult a criminal defense firm serving Gloucester County and the surrounding area, give the Law Offices of Jason C. Pollack a call today.