What’s the difference between careless and dangerous driving?

I recently got pulled over. I was eating while I was driving. The police officer made a comment that it was a good thing I wasn’t speeding because I would’ve gotten a dangerous driving ticket. What’s the difference between that and careless driving?

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Answer provided by
Kaitlin May
Answered on Apr 14, 2022
I think we can all say we’ve had a snack or two while on the road! The difference between careless and dangerous driving is intention. Additionally, careless driving is a civil citation, while dangerous driving is a criminal offense.
When cited for making a careless maneuver while driving, the police officer determined that there wasn’t awareness or intent behind the offending driver’s actions. Some examples include:
  • Using your cell phone
  • Eating or drinking
  • Failure to use turn signals
Through the same lens, police officers are able to identify drivers who make dangerous maneuvers without regard for the safety of others. This is dangerous or reckless driving, and these are some punishable actions:
  • Speeding 25 mph or more over the posted limit
  • Drag racing
  • Tailgating other vehicles
Each state has its own set of laws and penalties for both careless driving and reckless driving charges. Since careless driving is a lesser charge, drivers will be required to pay fines and may receive points on their driving record. Reckless driving typically carries both fines and jail time.
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