Under Michigan law, a person driving a motor vehicle on the road can be charged and convicted of “reckless driving” if they operate the vehicle in a “willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property.” The term willful is used to describe conduct that is done in an intentional or purposeful manner. A willful action can never be done accidentally. The conduct done by the person was behavior that they knew was dangerous, but they went ahead and did it anyways.
Penalties For Reckless Driving
The penalties for this charge depend on if a person was injured and how badly the person was injured.
A person who is convicted for reckless driving will face a fine of up to 500 dollars and up to 93 days in jail.
If a person is convicted for reckless driving that causes serious injuries, the punishment gets a lot tougher. A conviction for this crime makes someone a felon. The maximum penalty someone faces for this conviction is five years in the big house. Fines can be as high as $5,000. The vehicle used by the reckless driver can be immobilized for 180 days or taken away.
Reckless driving causing death is a 15-year felony. A person who gets convicted of this charge is probably going to do at least some prison time. The fines for this charge as massive! A judge could hammer you with a $10,000 fine. The vehicle can be immobilized for up to 180 days or taken away.
A reckless driving conviction will cause the Secretary of State to issue a 90-day suspension of the reckless driver’s license and six points on their record. Six points being added to a person’s driving record will certainly cause an increase in their insurance premiums.
There is another driving offense called careless driving. Michigan law defines this offense as a person who is driving in “a carless or negligent manner that is likely to endanger any person or property, but without wantonness or recklessness.”
While reckless driving is a crime, careless driving is only a civil infraction. A motorist who admits responsibility for driving in a careless manner will face a fine and points on their driving record.
The Reckless Driving Criminal Process
The vast majority of reckless driving cases start off with a law enforcement agent writing our client a ticket. Prosecutors rarely look over police reports, videos, statements or any other kind of evidence when a person shows up for a criminal charge issued by a ticket. This means that many times at the first pre-trial conference, a prosecutor may not be fully informed about your case. In many cases the prosecutor will have done nothing more than talking directly to the police officer about what happened. It is critical that everyone does not just show up at their arraignment and plea guilty right away. A person charged with a crime in Michigan has a right to review the evidence being used against them. A lot of times people who have a strong case, simply give up and plea guilty at arraignment or simply take the first offer they get from a prosecutor. This is a big mistake!
The reason it is important to get both sides to the story is because I have seen a lot of bad drivers on the road. I’ve watched people do some really crazy things on the road. However, I must admit that my initial impression is based on a quick judgment. I do not have all the facts or the full story. Once the full story is known to me, I make sure the prosecutor knows the full story and many times they will be willing to work with me on a good plea deal for my client.
How A Criminal Defense Attorney Can Help
In Michigan courtrooms, good criminal defense lawyers can sometimes find ways to have their clients get their clients drunk driving charge pled down to a reckless driving charge. This isn’t a guarantee, but the right criminal defense attorney can help guide you down the pathway to getting a good result.
Unfortunately, many criminal defense lawyers are not prepared to handle these types of cases. You deserve to have an expert on your side who will present all the facts to the prosecutor handling your case. Generally, police officers will cut a driver a break and not issue a reckless driving ticket unless the person treats them in a disrespectful manner. I will talk to my clients about what happened and why it happened. I find out if my client was actually doing something so bad that it warrants a reckless driving charge or if they were having a bad day and maybe were rude to law enforcement. One memorable reckless driving case I had was certainly based on my clients driving and not him being rude or insulting to the police officer. My client was going so fast that his car got “air” after going over railroad tracks. My client denied that, but I got the video and it was crystal clear that my client’s car did get air! I was still able to get my client a plea bargain down to a lesser charge.
People that typically call my office about reckless driving charges are people who need to be able to drive in order to keep their job. If you are truck driver or work for Amazon delivering packages, good luck keeping your job if you get a reckless driving charge. For these people, keeping a reckless driving charge off their record is more than just getting a criminal conviction on their record! Because the sticks for this misdemeanor charge can be very serious, I take a proactive approach to getting my clients the best results possible. I will work with my clients to help them improve their driving skills. I do this by having my clients look into safe driving courses, community service and counseling.
If you have been accused of drag racing, careless driving, reckless driving or any other traffic offense in Michigan, the lawyers at The Criminal Defense Law Center of West Michigan are willing and ready to engage in a complete and thorough investigation of your case. After this is done, will can find and expose all facts and details that can be used to prove your innocence. Everything will be done to help you keep your driving privileges. Everything will be done to keep you out of jail and make sure you don’t have a criminal record. We know how to use innovative legal strategies and tactics to get our clients the best results possible.
Do not wait to call a lawyer if you are facing reckless driving charges. Call me now at 616-438-6719! I can talk to you 24/7 about your case and how we can help you. I offer a free case strategy session, so you have nothing to lose by calling me! Waiting will only harm you and your case! Call now!