Is Reckless Driving a Felony? 

Driving is a huge part of modern life. However, when operated incorrectly, cars and other vehicles become incredibly dangerous. Because of this, the laws governing it are strict and complex. While we all know drunk driving can be a felony charge, is conviction of reckless driving a felony?

Reckless Driving in Michigan

According to the Michigan Vehicle Code, someone can be arrested for reckless driving if they are:

“… A person who operates a vehicle upon a highway or a frozen public lake, stream, or pond or other place open to the general public, including, but not limited to, an area designated for the parking of motor vehicles, in willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property.”

There are many factors that dictate how mild or how severe the punishment for reckless driving is, such as speed, property damage, place and if any injuries or death resulted from it. Under Michigan law, standard reckless driving is a class 1 misdemeanor. However, reckless driving causing serious bodily injury or death is categorized as a felony.

Different degrees of reckless driving

In Michigan, the consequences of a reckless driving charge vary depending on the circumstances. Below are the general penalties for each reckless driving charge:

  • Standard reckless driving: Misdemeanor; up to 93 days jail sentence and/or $500 maximum fine.
  • Reckless driving involving serious injuries: Felony; up to 5 year(s) in jail/prison and/or $1,000-$5,000 in fines. Vehicle immobilized for up to 180 days or forfeited.
  • Reckless driving involving fatalities: Felony; up to 15 years in prison and/or $2,500-$10,000 in fines. Vehicle immobilized for up to 180 days or forfeited.
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Secretary of State Point System for Traffic Tickets/Offenses

Six Points

  • Manslaughter, negligent homicide, or other felony involving the use of a motor vehicle. Operating under the influence of liquor or drugs. Failing to stop and give identification at the scene of a crash. Reckless driving. Unlawful bodily alcohol content of 0.08 or more. Refusal to take a chemical test. Fleeing or eluding a police officer.

Four Points

  • Drag racing. Operating while visibly impaired. Under age 21 with any bodily alcohol content. 16 mph or more over the legal speed limit. Failure to yield/show due caution for emergency vehicles.

Three Points

  • Careless driving. Disobeying a traffic signal or stop sign or improper passing. 11 through 15 mph over the legal speed limit. Failure to stop at railroad crossing. Failure to stop for a school bus or for disobeying a school crossing guard.

Two Points

  • Open alcohol container in vehicle. All other moving violations of traffic laws. Refusal of Preliminary Breath Test (PBT) by a driver under age 21.

Source: Secretary of State Office

Careless Driving

In Michigan, there is a traffic offense similar in name to reckless driving called “careless driving.” Unlike reckless driving, careless driving is considered a civil infraction. This means that there is no associated jail time and will not be reported on your criminal record.

“Wet Reckless” Driving

A “wet reckless” is a term used to describe a charge reduced from a DUI/OWI charge. In Michigan, there is no “Wet Reckless” offense per se. This term comes from someone reading your record and seeing that an OWI was pled down to something other than alcohol related driving offense.

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However, this wet reckless plea arrangement is not very common; so do not bank on this being a hail mary in your OWI case.

Talk to an attorney

A reckless driving investigation is something no one wants to go through. However, hiring experienced criminal defense attorneys to fight for your case can make it much easier. Contact our law firm today to fight your reckless driving criminal offense today.