Reckless Driving is defined under Michigan law (MCL 257.626) as operating a motor vehicle on a public roadway (including parking lots), public lake, frozen pond, or stream with a wanton or willful disregard for the safety of persons or property. The elements are rather vague and open to interpretation which means that a skillful attorney can argue that your driving does not meet the elements of the offense. Anything from weaving in and out of traffic, cutting other motorists off, excessive speeding, or even tailgating can lead to being charged with reckless driving. It can also be used as a plea option in OWI cases. If convicted, the penalties are very strict.
Penalties for Reckless Driving
- Up to 93 days in jail
- Up to $500 in fines plus costs
- Six points on your driving record
- 90 days “hard suspension” of driver’s license meaning no driving at all! (driver’s license is revoked if second conviction within seven years)
- $1,000 in driver responsibility fees ($500 a year for two consecutive years)
- Vehicle forfeitures or immobilization—if the vehicle is not forfeited, then the judge must order it immobilized
- CDL Suspension—if you have a commercial driver’s license it will be suspended for one year
Reckless Driving Causing Serious Injury or Death
If your reckless driving causes someone to have a serious impairment of a bodily function or it results in their death, the penalties are increased a misdemeanor to a felony. Just like with the OWI Causing Serious Injury or Death, causation is a crucial element. It is not enough for the prosecutor to prove that you were driving recklessly. The prosecutor has to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you were driving recklessly and that reckless driving caused the serious injury or death of the other person. Furthermore, the law states that if charged with reckless driving causing death, the jury shall not be instructed on the lesser offense of a moving violation causing death.
Penalties for Reckless Driving Causing Serious Injury or Death
In both instances, six points will be added to your driving record and your license will be revoked. You may apply for reinstatement of your driver’s license after one year or five years depending on your master driving record. As with the misdemeanor reckless driving charge, your CDL (if you have one) will be suspended for one year. Reckless Driving Causing Serious Injury is a felony punishable by up to five years in prison and fines from $1,000-5,000. Reckless Driving Causing Death is a felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison with fines from $2,500-10,000.
Difference Between Reckless Driving and Careless Driving
Reckless driving is a misdemeanor offense while careless driving is a civil infraction which is a ticket. Careless driving carries a fine of approximately $125 and will add three points to your driving record but it is not a criminal conviction. It can be used effectively as a plea option in driving and traffic offense cases, particularly if the prosecution’s case is weak. The big difference is that reckless driving requires intent by the driver while careless driving is more unintentionally placing persons or property at risk by your driving.
Michigan Reckless Driving Lawyer
If you have been charged with reckless driving or reckless driving causing serious injury or death, you need an experienced criminal defense lawyer on your side to help you avoid jail, prison, and losing your license. The livelihood of many people depends on having a driver’s license so it’s important to have a lawyer with experience in defending driving charges and traffic offense. Call Austin Legal Services, PLC today to speak to a Michigan reckless driving defense lawyer at (517) 614-1983!
Defending reckless driving and careless driving charges throughout Michigan in the counties of: Ingham, Eaton, Clinton, Jackson, Livingston, Kent, Shiawassee, Gratiot, Kalamazoo, Calhoun in the cities of Lansing, East Lansing, Mason, Charlotte, St. Johns, Jackson, Howell, Brighton, Grand Rapids, Corunna, Durand, Ithaca, Kalamazoo, Battle Creek.