NJ Reckless Driving Defense Lawyer

     Reckless driving charges are among the most common citations issued in New Jersey.  These are usually given with a few other citations at one time.  For instance, someone pulled over for excessive Speeding, Racing, Tailgating, Careless Driving (yes, the Police often give both tickets) and Drunk Driving, are often given that ticket along with the reckless driving charge. This bolsters the police’s case and makes it more difficult to walk away with no points. 

What are the Penalties?

1st Offense:

  • Up to $200 Fine + Court Costs;
  • 5 Motor Vehicle Points;
  • Insurance Premium Increases;
  • Up to 60 days in Jail.

2nd and Subsequent Offenses:

  • Up to $500 Fine + Court Costs;
  • 5 Motor Vehicle Points;
  • Significant Insurance Premium Increases;
  • Possible Driver’s License Suspension**
  • Up to 3 months in Jail

**If the Reckless Driving charge was with several other tickets, the Judge will occasionally decide to suspend your license.  

How can a Lawyer Help?

There are many things an experienced New Jersey reckless driving defense attorney can do to help.  Most people will have several tickets rather than just the careless driving charge, and the more tickets there are, the more we can help.  Our first goal is to completely defeat the charges and find any defenses.  These might include very technical defenses such as the fact that a police officer didn’t have a reason to pull you over in the first place, or often that the video doesn’t support the charge.  Every case is unique, and hundreds of possible defenses may arise.  

Other times it is best to negotiate a deal with the prosecutor.  An experienced defense lawyer stands a far better chance of coming away with a beneficial arrangement than a regular citizen.  The benefits of this may include, no or diminished points, reduced fines, and even saving a defendant’s license when it would otherwise be suspended.

For a free consultation, please see our contact page, or call a NJ Traffic Defense Attorney today at 201-943-2445.

Frequently Asked Questions:

What counts as driving recklessly in NJ?

Reckless driving in NJ is defined as operating a vehicle “...heedlessly, in willful or wanton disregard for the rights or safety of others, in a manner so as to endanger, or be likely to endanger, a person or property…”  

The definition of reckless driving is pretty open to interpretation.  People are commonly charged for it if they were excessively speeding, drinking and driving, racing, swerving, talking on a cell phone, etc.  

I have a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License), how do NJ reckless driving tickets affect me?

As a CDL driver, it is important to note that even certain driving offenses committed while driving your personal vehicle, can affect your commercial driver’s license; this is especially so with Drug and DUI / DWI charges.  

For a fuller listing of penalties related to certain NJ traffic offenses for CDL drivers, see here.

In addition to the above punishments, your employer or insurance carrier may have their own issues if you are convicted for a speeding charge, especially at higher speeds.  Don’t lose your livelihood  if you are a CDL driver and have been given a reckless driving ticket in NJ, contact our Criminal Defense Attorney’s today.

My driver’s license was suspended for charges in NJ, what do I do?

A NJ Driver’s license may be suspended for a variety of charges and reasons.  The most common include:

While this is not an exhaustive list, the remedies are usually limited.  It’s important to defend yourself against all charges, and to appear in Court.  Even if you have already been convicted of certain driving offenses, including drunk driving, you have the right to appeal, or reopen the case in certain circumstances.  

If you have accrued too many points, it is possible to reopen certain cases, or to have your point count reduced, negating the reason for the suspension.  This arrangement must often be worked out with the DMV, and requires finesse.  An Experienced NJ Traffic Lawyer can be invaluable in these cases.

If you have failed to appear for Court appearances, your license will be suspended indefinitely, until you report to the Court.  

In most cases, you will eventually have to pay the DMV to have your driving privileges restored.  You may do this, here.  Once paid, you should generally wait to receive a restoration letter, and you should call the DMV to confirm that your license has been restored.

If you have already been convicted of the speeding charge which led to your suspension, it is possible, in some instances, to reopen your speeding case and attempt to either have the case dismissed or arrange a better plea which would not get you suspended.

How does the New Jersey motor vehicle point system work?

DMV Motor Vehicle Points are different from Insurance Company Motor Vehicle Points.  Every insurance company has an individual system of points they use to calculate your rates.  For instance, a conviction for Drunk Driving in New Jersey, carries no DMV points, but can have nearly 10 points for insurance purposes, significantly boosting your premium.

For this reason, it’s very important to defend against traffic summonses rather than pleading guilty and removing the points through the programs described below.

For a variety of NJ traffic tickets, DMV Motor Vehicle Points will attach to your license.   For a list of all NJ Traffic Violations which summonses carry motor vehicle points, click here.  You will have to pay surcharges to the DMV if you acquire 6 or more points within a 3-year period.  If you acquire more than 12, you are also subject to an administrative suspension.  This happens even when a Judge doesn’t order it at Court.  For almost any point violation, your insurance company will likely raise your rates.  

For every year you have no points assessed against your license, you will have 3-points subtracted from your record.  

My driver’s license was suspended because I got too many points, now what?

If you accrue too many points in a short period of time, the NJ DMV will typically suspend your license for a period of time.  If you receive:

  • 12-15 points in 2 years or less, you will typically be suspended for 30 days;
  • 16-18 points in 2 years or less, you will typically be suspended for 60 days;
  • 19-21 points in 2 years or less, you will typically be suspended for 90 days;
  • 22-24 points in 2 years or less, you will typically be suspended for 120 days;
  • 25-27 points in 2 years or less, you will typically be suspended for 150 days;
  • 28+ points in 2 years or less, you will typically be suspended for at LEAST 180 days.

There are slightly reduced penalties if you merely accumulate so many points, rather than having them in a short period of time, as above.  If at any time you accrue:

  • 12-18 points, you will typically be suspended for 30 days;
  • 19-22 points, you will typically be suspended for 60 days;
  • 23-26 points, you will typically be suspended for 90 days;
  • 27-30 points, you will typically be suspended for 120 days;
  • 31-35 points, you will typically be suspended for 150 days;
  • 36 points, you will typically be suspended for at LEAST 180 days.

These numbers are not definitive, they represent typical suspension periods.  You will often be afforded an opportunity to attend an administrative hearing where you can explain the circumstances.  In some cases our traffic attorney’s can negotiate a reduced suspension, however it is always best to fight the charges in Court when you first receive a summons.

How do NJ DMV surcharges work?

There are a few reasons you can be forced to pay New Jersey’s Division of Motor Vehicle’s a surcharge    The most common way is if you accrue 6 or more points within a 3 year period of your last points.  You will be charged $25 for each point, for three years.  This means that if you are convicted for 8-points of violations, you will pay $200 a year for 3-years.  There are specific other violations which have their own mandatory surcharges, these are:

  • Drunk Driving, DUI / DWI convictions.  A first and second offense carries a surcharge of $1,000 a year, for 3-years.  This includes convictions for refusal cases.  The surcharge can go up higher for 3rd offenses.
  • Being Unlicensed or having an Expired License will also cost you $100 a year for 3-years.
  • Driving with a Suspended License will cost you $250 a year, for 3-years.
  • Not insuring your vehicle will cost $250 a year, for 3-years.

If you do not pay these surcharges, your license will be suspended, or your eligibility to restore your license will be delayed.  These costs are in addition to those assessed in Court.  You can pay the surcharges online, by mail, by phone, or in person at your local DMV location.  Often, the surcharges and court costs alone will be more than hiring an experienced traffic defense attorney.

How do I find out how many points I have on my license?

Often, people forget their drivers history, and won’t recall this.  In these cases, we often ask our clients to obtain what's called a Driver’s Abstract.  A driver’s abstract is a form from the, New Jersey Department of Motor Vehicle’s, detailing the history of various driving infractions a person has received  and the disposition of those charges.  You can order a copy of your driver's abstract online.  It is advisable to order the Certified Abstract, rather than the typical 5-year abstract.  This will list a greater range of history, and be more readily usable in Court.

Is there any other way to reduce my points?

Aside from good lawyering in Court, after you have already received a NJ traffic summons, there are two other avenues you can use as provided by the law contained in N.J.S.A. 39:5-30.9.

You may complete a Defensive Driving Program, once every 5 years, and have 2 points subtracted from your record.  These only work if you already have points on your license, you cannot get negative points.  You may, however, be eligible for certain insurance rate reductions after completing a course.  This will depend upon your insurance carrier.  Many of these programs can be completed online.  They can take anywhere from 1-5 hours to complete.  There are many state approved courses which will grant you the 2-point reduction.

You may also complete a Driver Improvement Program once every two years, which can subtract 3-points from your license.  

How much will my insurance go up?

The answer to this depends upon what insurance carrier you have, your driving record, how many points you receive  how fast you were going, and what type of neighborhood it was in.  It is not uncommon for insurance premiums to jump by thousands of dollars a year.  As such, it is important to defend yourself from even minor traffic violations.  

How much will the DMV surcharges be?

If you accumulate more than 6 points in a 3-year period, the DMV will apply a surcharge.  The amount charged will be $25 per point, per year, for 3 years.  If you already have 4 points from an offense 2 years ago, and are convicted of a NJ 4 point speeding ticket now, you will have to pay $200 a year for three years in surcharges.  

There are other offenses which carry their own separate surcharges, as discussed above.  If you have a DUI / DWI conviction for instance, there will be at least a $1000 surcharge per year for three years.  In addition to this, although there are no points assessed for a NJ drunk driving conviction, your insurance company would dramatically increase your rate.  

Where do you defend reckless driving charges?

Our attorneys defend reckless driving defend all driving offenses, in  Bergen County, Hudson County, Essex County, and Morris County.

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