Driving carelessly or recklessly puts you and other drivers in dangers. It can result in harm to yourself, another, or to property. Due to these dangers, Michigan punishes such driving through fines and possible jail time.
In Michigan, a careless driving charge is a three (3) point offense and a civil infraction punishable by a fine, according to MCL 257.626b. Michigan law defines careless driving as driving in a careless or negligent manner likely to endanger any person or property. An example of careless driving is unintentionally speeding and running a red light.
On the other hand, reckless driving can be a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the damage caused. Under MCL 257.626, Michigan law defines reckless driving as “driving in willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property.” According to the Michigan Model Criminal Jury Instructions, willful and wanton disregard is defined as “more than simple careless[ness] but not require[ing] proof of an intent to cause harm. It means knowingly disregarding the possible risks to the safety of people or property.” In other words, reckless driving means that your driving was so dangerous that you had to have knowledge of the risks, but chose to drive in that manner anyway. Examples of reckless driving included weaving in and out of traffic or excessive speeding.
Reckless driving is punishable as follows:
- Misdemeanor, punishable by imprisonment for not more than 93 days or a fine of not more than $500, or both.
- Felony, punishable by imprisonment of not more than 5 years or fine not less than $1,000 or more than $5,000, or both, if you cause serious impairment to another.
- Felony, punishable by imprisonment of not more than 15 years or a fine of not less than $2,500 or more than $10,000, or both, if you cause death.
Additionally, reckless driving is a six (6) point criminal offense in Michigan and can result in a license suspension. Depending on the circumstances, reckless driving may be considered a lesser charge to operating while intoxicated.
If you or someone you know is dealing a legal issue relating to careless or reckless driving, it is imperative that you seek legal representation from a lawyer familiar with this area of law. Finding resolution that can keep someone’s criminal record clean and keep you out of jail may be available.