Reckless Driving Ticket Penalties in New Jersey
Reckless driving charges are typically accompanied by other charges like Driving While Intoxicated or Speeding, and are based on a “willful or wanton disregard” for the safety of the driver or other drivers on the road. As such, judges often use these ancillary charges as grounds for a license suspension at sentencing. Usually, reckless driving on its face does not carry any license suspension. Rather, it is through case law development (see State of New Jersey v. Moran) that grants power to judges to suspend a driver’s license for reckless driving offenses where there is shown a willful or wanton disregard for person or property.
Where a judge makes these findings on the record, he may impose a license suspension for a reckless driving charge even if you only plead guilty with the impression that a license suspension was not possible under the plain reading of the reckless driving statute N.J.S.A. 39:4-96. This is a common mistake made not only by lay people, but also novice attorneys, and catches drivers by surprise at sentencing.
You CAN lose your license for a Reckless Driving ticket in New Jersey, in addition to high fines, five (5) points, and increased insurance premiums. Contact an attorney from our firm today to help you reduce or eliminate these substantial penalties. Call 24/7 at 1 (877) 450-8301 to speak with an experienced Reckless Driving ticket lawyer.
What is a Willful Or Wanton Disregard For a License Suspension?
Reckless drivers act in a way likely to endanger a person or property, while those who commit a “willful” violation of the reckless-driving statute, warranting imposition of driver’s license suspension, engage in an aggravated form of reckless driving, i.e., conduct that is highly likely to endanger a person or property. What this means is a finding of driving conduct that is “highly likely to endanger a person or property”, as opposed to conduct that is merely “likely to endanger person or property” will be the difference deciding factor in whether or not you will face a license suspension. The addition of the word “highly” is all that separates the two. It is imperative that you have a strong advocate to persuade that judge that your conduct did not reach the level of “highly likely to endanger a person or property.”
An example of how a situation involving “willful or wanton disregard” can be found in State v. Moran. There, a driver’s license suspension, in addition to fines and costs, was warranted for a defendant convicted of reckless driving based on her conduct in using left turn lane to pass vehicles stopped at traffic light. Although defendant did not currently have any points against her driving record, she had committed a number of traffic offenses over a period of years, including improper passing, failing to observe traffic light, speeding, failure to yield the right of way, obstructing the passage of other vehicles, unsafe operation of a motor vehicle, and careless driving, and judge, after noting that defendant willfully violated the reckless driving statute, relied upon defendant’s extensive driving record as the basis for suspension. This means that what may have been a harmless motor vehicle offense, could turn into a license suspension based primarily and your driving record.
If you have a reckless driving charge to deal with, don’t leave your ability to drive solely in the judge’s hands. Contact the Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall today.