In Michigan, how safely you drive could have serious consequences for your future and your freedom. Charges of “reckless driving” in Michigan come in three varieties: standard reckless driving, reckless driving involving serious injury, and reckless driving involving death. All three involve reckless driving, but they’re charged based on the outcome of the defendant’s driving.
In other words, whether your reckless driving charge is a misdemeanor or a felony depends entirely on if someone got hurt as a result of your driving.
Reckless Driving vs. Careless Driving
The line between “reckless” and “careless driving” (a lesser driving offense in Michigan) is often blurry. In general, the line between reckless and careless driving is whether the defendant was intentionally driving in a way that put others at risk. Driving while texting might be charged as careless driving (a civil infraction), but driving at 120 mph near a school crossing would likely be charged as reckless driving.
Under the law, reckless driving applies to any driver who is:
- Driving purposefully or intentionally
- Driving knowing that they’re putting others at risk
For a reckless driving charge, the prosecutor will need to prove that you were driving the vehicle, that you were intentionally driving dangerously, and that you were knowingly putting others at risk. How difficult this may be will depend on the particulars of your case.
How Reckless Driving Is Charged
In every reckless driving case, the actions are the same. How you’ll be charged or convicted will depend on the impact of your driving. For instance, if you’re caught driving 120mph on a residential street, you’ll be charged with reckless driving, a misdemeanor that comes with 93 days in jail and up to $500 in fines.
However, if you drive 120mph on a residential street and you hit someone, you’ll be charged with reckless driving involving serious injuries, which is a felony charge. It comes with up to 5 years in prison and up to $5,000 in fines. The judge may even seize your vehicle as part of your sentence.
If you drive recklessly and cause someone else’s death, you’re facing felony charges that come with up to 15 years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines.
Regardless of what kind of reckless driving charge you receive, conviction will result in 90-day license suspension and six points on your traffic record, which will affect your insurance costs for years to come.
“Wet Reckless”: When Reckless Driving Is the Preferred Charge
If you’re arrested for OWI in Michigan, your attorney may be able to plea you down to a reckless driving charge. This is sometimes called a “wet reckless” charge. It’s no different from a standard reckless driving charge.
Regardless of what you’re facing, you need an attorney to help you minimize your charges or get your case dismissed entirely. I, Daniel D. Hajji, Attorney at Law, have been defending the accused from serious charges since 2002. Speak with me today in a free consultation so we can discuss your legal defense options.
Call (248) 599-0054 or contact me online today.