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Careless and or Distracted Driving
Careless driving or inattentive driving, which is covered by the same state statute, is an offense that can have serious consequences if it results in harm to a pedestrian, cyclist, or anyone else who is using a public right of way. Careless driving is defined by the statute as driving in a careless way without regard to the weather, traffic, or road conditions. Inattentive driving is defined by the same statute as driving without paying full attention to the operation of a vehicle or not keeping a proper lookout. Both of these offenses are quite similar and depend on a very subjective judgment made by a police officer if he or she decides to give you a citation for either of them. Of course, if you have an accident in which something or someone gets damaged or hurt, then it is much more likely that you will get a citation anyway if the officer thinks it was your fault.
Careless Driving Fines if No-one Has Been Hurt
If no one has been hurt, then it is unlikely you will get more than a fine for careless/inattentive driving. A fine for this offense is likely to set you back up to $200, up to 30 days in county jail, or both. If it is not your first offense for careless/inattentive driving, then the fine will be raised.
Careless Driving Penalties if a Person Has Been Seriously Injured
The situation is quite different if you hurt somebody seriously or it is alleged that your driving caused someone to get hurt seriously. If you are convicted, you could also face a felony charge when someone is injured or dies. It is possible that your license will be suspended. A ticket for careless or inattentive driving is likely to be given at the same time as a ticket for another alleged violation, such as speeding or failure to yield the right of way and it may be that these charges are more serious than the one for careless or inattentive driving.
When Should you Plead Not Guilty?
Before you make a plea in response to a careless or inattentive driving ticket, you will have to think carefully about the consequences of a guilty plea. How much is a likely penalty going to affect you down the road? If the charge means that you are in danger of losing your license, or the time is taken to complete community service or a driver modification course is going to affect your job then you may be better off pleading not guilty and hiring a traffic violation lawyer to help you fight the charge(s). Pleading not guilty means that the prosecution is then forced to prove that you were driving carelessly and you may be able to dismiss the charge completely or make a plea bargain for a lesser sentence.