Careless Driving Requires the State to Provide the Vehicle was Operated by the Defendant Carelessly or Without Due Caution and Circumspection, in a Manner so as to Endanger, or be Likely to Endanger, a Person or Property
The NJ Supreme Court held in State v Lutz 309 N.J. Super. 317 (App. Div. 1998) that merely because an accident took place a driver is not guilty of careless driving. The court wrote:
In State v. Wenzel, 113 N.J. Super. 215 (App. Div. 1971) defendant was charged with careless driving when his tractor trailer jackknifed and struck another trailer. The State's only witness did not see the accident. There was no evidence defendant was speeding or that he drove without due caution or circumspection. However, both the municipal and county courts determined that an otherwise unexplained jackknifing was indicative of careless driving. The Appellate Division reversed, holding the res ipsa doctrine employed by the lower courts had no place in a quasi-criminal action for careless driving. The rationale of the Wenzel decision applies to this case.
See also State v Roenicke 174 N.J. Super. 513 (Law Div 1980)