In New Jersey, reckless driving and careless driving may sound like the same things. For different states, there are different traffic laws that deal with reckless and careless driving. In some states, there is no distinction, whereas others have separate statutes that cover both. New Jersey is a state that has different statutes for both.
According to the New Jersey Annotated Statute 39:4-97, careless driving is anyone who drives without due caution in a way that endangers people or property. Reckless driving, on the other hand, is the New Jersey Annotated Statute: 39:4-96. It states that any person who drives a vehicle with wanton disregard of the safety of others in a way that endangers people or property commits reckless driving.
When taking the two laws at face value, it may be difficult to ascertain why careless driving is a lesser charge than reckless driving. The reasoning is in the wording of the law. For it to be careless driving, the driver does not have to act intentionally. Distractions often lead to careless drivers. Reckless drivers intend to drive dangerously.
Reckless driving, on the other hand, is punishable by imprisonment for no more than 60 days or a fine of no less than $50 or more than $200. If a person faces charges of reckless driving twice, then he or she may have a higher sentence of a prison sentence of no more than 90 days and a fine of more than $100 but less than $500.
None of the information here is legal advice but instead educational information.