Written by Avvo Staff

3 things to know about a careless driving ticket

Learn about careless driving tickets and see when you should hire an attorney to contest yours.

A careless driving ticket may be given by an officer if the officer believes you were driving unsafely. There are 3 important things you should know if you've received this type of traffic ticket.

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#1: There's several reasons why you could have gotten a careless driving ticket.

In general, you can receive a ticket for careless driving whenever an officer believes that your driving could endanger people's safety or pose risks to their property.

So what is careless driving? While the officer's discretion plays a role, a careless driving ticket is usually issued for one of the following reasons:

  • Weaving through traffic
  • Speeding
  • Tailgating
  • Causing an accident
  • Causing injury or death to another
  • Other “careless” conduct.

#2 Careless driving is a less serious offense than reckless driving.

While not all states have careless driving laws, those that do consider careless driving to be a less serious offense than reckless driving.

If your careless driving matter goes to court, the state would essentially have to prove that you failed to drive carefully or prudently. This is a different standard than a ticket for reckless driving, which usually requires a willful disregard for the safety of others or property.

Further, the penalties for careless driving and reckless driving differ, with reckless driving usually having harsher consequences.

#3 Careless driving penalties vary by state, but there are some common ranges.

The penalties for careless driving vary widely based on the state. Possible penalties include up to one year of jail time, a fine of $1,000 to $2,000, points against your driving record, or some combination of these.

Additionally, the cost of a careless driving ticket may be reflected through an insurance premium increase. The exact effects of the ticket will depend on your insurance company’s policies.

If you want to contest a careless driving ticket, an attorney can provide you with an idea of your odds for success. Choosing to hire an attorney will also increase your odds of beating the ticket in general.

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