In Michigan, a person can be convicted of “reckless driving” for driving a vehicle “in willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property.” Generally, the term “willful” refers to conduct that is purposeful or intentional, rather than accidental. And “wanton disregard” basically means the person understood the conduct was risky but decided to do it anyway.
(Mich. Comp. Laws Ann. § 257.626 (2018).)
The consequences of a reckless driving conviction depend on the circumstances. But generally, the possible penalties are:
A reckless driving conviction also results in a 90-day license suspension and six demerit points going on the motorist’s driving record—likely meaning increased insurance rate.
Michigan has another offense called “careless driving.” The offense is defined as driving “in a careless or negligent manner likely to endanger any person or property, but without wantonness or recklessness.”
The difference between careless and reckless driving is a matter of degree—and the dividing line isn’t always clear. But generally, “reckless driving” involves operation that’s obviously dangerous whereas “careless driving” tends to cover less conspicuous instances of bad driving.
Unlike reckless driving, careless driving isn’t a crime—it’s a civil infraction. Motorists who are convicted of careless driving face a fine and three points on their driving record.
In Michigan, it’s possible for a driver who’s charged with operating while intoxicated (OWI) to plea bargain for a lesser charge. When a DUI is plea bargained down to a reckless driving charge, it’s sometimes called a “wet reckless.”
HOW MUCH TIME WOULD YOU ACTUALLY SPEND IN JAIL?
Generally speaking, sentencing law is complex and varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. For example, a statute might list a “minimum” jail sentence that’s longer than the actual amount of time (if any) a defendant will have to spend behind bars. All kinds of factors can affect actual punishment, including the severity of the damage at issue, credits for good in-custody behavior, and jail-alternative work programs.
If you face criminal charges, consult an experienced criminal defense lawyer. An attorney with command of the rules in your jurisdiction will be able to explain the law as it applies to your situation.
The consequences of a reckless driving conviction in Michigan can be serious, especially when the offense involved injuries. If you’ve been arrested for or charged with reckless driving, get in contact with an experienced defense attorney. A qualified attorney can explain how the law applies to the facts of your case and help you decide on how best to handle your situation.