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Car Accident

Reasonable Vigilance vs. Careless Operation: Whats the Difference?

By March 2, 2020No Comments

Traffic tickets can happen to anyone – even if you’re in an accident and you’re not at fault.

But what is a reasonable vigilance ticket?

And what does careless operation mean?

When you’re facing traffic court in New Orleans, it’s best to hire an experienced attorney who not only knows the difference between these terms, but also knows how to defend you against them.

What is reasonable vigilance?

Section 115-400 of the New Orleans Code of Ordinances says that “The operator of any vehicle in this city shall maintain a reasonable vigilance at all times while driving, sufficient to avoid collision with another vehicle, pedestrian, or other private or public property.”

But what does this mean exactly? It means that drivers in New Orleans must be extra careful when driving within city limits. Taking your eyes off the road for a second, or failing to look twice for oncoming traffic could land you with a fine upwards of $200.

For example, let’s say that you’re following all driving laws but turn to look at someone in your passenger seat or turn to change the radio station, looking away from the road for a split second. During that second, another car swerves and hits you. 

Even if the other driver is at fault for the accident, you could be subject to a fine for failing to remain “vigilant” while driving.

So how is that different from careless operation?

Louisiana law states that “failure to drive” on public roads “in a careful and prudent manner, so as not to endanger the life, limb, or property of any person” is careless operation of a vehicle.

The phrasing is purposefully vague, allowing officers to use their judgment for when to issue the tickets.

Examples of reasons an officer can give you a ticket for careless operation include:

  • Failing to brake in time to avoid an accident
  • Swerving in and out of traffic
  • Speeding
  • Running a red light
  • And others

(Important note: Careless operation is also different from reckless operation of a vehicle, which tends to cause more serious accidents and has more serious penalties. Reckless operation citations are even considered misdemeanors in Louisiana.)

What are the penalties for these two citations?

You should want to avoid getting a ticket for either reasonable vigilance or careless operation first and foremost because you don’t want to be a danger to yourself or others on the road.

Additionally, the fines related to these citations can be pretty hard on your bank account.

In the city of New Orleans, fines are typically:

  • Reasonable vigilance: $202.50
  • Careless operation: $252.50

Avoiding these fines requires winning your case in court. And finding an experienced and qualified attorney in this area who knows the law and how to properly investigate your case is your best bet.

Hire the Crescent City Law Firm today

But you don’t have to deal with this ticket alone. Rather than showing up, admitting guilt, and just paying your fine, get in touch with our legal team at the Crescent City Law Firm. We’ll help you fight your ticket, and work to ensure you are not unfairly punished.

Click here to download the free guide

“What to do if you got a traffic ticket”