In America, road rage describes the, “violent anger caused by the stress and frustration involved in driving a motor vehicle in difficult conditions.” The term was coined by anchors at KTLA – Los Angeles during a series of road rage incidents involving freeway shootings between 1987 and 1988. In fact, these shootings even generated a response from AAA (“Triple A”) on how to respond to angry drivers. While shooting someone is obviously an extreme case of road rage and is a criminal offense, is road rage itself a crime?
Currently, the state of Michigan doesn’t have a law that defines “road rage,” according to the Michigan State Police. This being the case the answer is no to the question, “is road rage a crime?” However, the concept of road rage may be applied to two statutes in the Michigan Vehicle Code:
“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 an area designated for the parking of vehicles in a careless or negligent manner likely to endanger any person or property, but without wantonness or recklessness, is responsible for a civil infraction.”
Careless driving is subject to three points added onto one’s driving record by the Secretary of State. While the civil infraction cost depends on the county, it typically falls in the range of $164–$205 for a first-time traffic offense.
“(1) A person who violates this section is guilty of reckless driving punishable as provided in this section.
(2) Except as otherwise provided in this section, 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 is guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment for not more than 93 days or a fine of not more than $500.00, or both.”
Careless driving is subject to six points added onto one’s driving record by the Secretary of State. As of Oct. 31st, 2010, a person who operates a vehicle in violation of (2) that causes serious bodily injury is guilty of a felony punishable up to 5 years in jail time, a fine between $1,000–$5,000, or both.
Additionally, a person whose operation of a vehicle causes the death of another person is guilty of a felony punishable up to 15 years in prison, a fine between $2,500–$10,000, or both.
The judge presiding may impose vehicle forfeiture (625n). However, if the vehicle is not ordered forfeited, the court may order vehicle immobilization instead for a person convicted of reckless driving.
What is the difference between careless driving and reckless driving?
According to the Michigan State Police, careless driving typically comprises of multiple hazardous violations that are unsafe, negligent and committed in the same instance. However, the driver doesn’t need to show intent to damage property or injure someone, or even the knowledge that their driving is unsafe. A driver who tailgates another driver could be considered a careless driver.
However, reckless driving is an intentional crime. With this offense, the aggressive driver is aware of their unsafe actions, but continues doing them anyway. A driver who speeds, “bobs and weaves” throughout traffic, cuts off traffic and uses the shoulder to pass could be considered a reckless driver. There are criminal charges associated with reckless driving.
Contact an attorney for your reckless driving charge
Reckless driving is an offense that can have serious repercussions on your license, career, family, and mental wellbeing. Our team of experienced criminal defense attorneys has proven success in this area of law, and can help you with your charge today.
Attorney Morris is trial lawyer who has been providing high-quality legal representation in the areas of state and federal criminal defense for more than 20 years. He’s known for his trial preparation by fellow attorneys, judges and clients alike. As a trial attorney, he’s dedicated to attaining justice in every case, and is always prepared to successfully take on complex legal issues. Barton and his law firm pride themselves on obtaining results for their clients that other attorneys cannot.
Not only does Barton Morris have extensive experience, he also engages in continuing legal education to provide the highest quality legal services. Barton has received specialized scientific training through the American Chemical Society, and is the only forensic lawyer-scientist in Michigan. He attended the prestigious Trial Lawyers College and serves on its Alumni Association Board of Directors. Barton Morris is also a board member of several distinguished legal associations including the Michigan Association of OWI Attorneys, and the DUI Defense Lawyer’s Association Justice Foundation. He’s also an active member of the National Association of Criminal Defense Attorneys and has graduated from their National Criminal Defense Trial College in Macon, Georgia.
Barton Morris is consistently chosen as a Top Lawyer of Metro Detroit and for DUI/OWI and criminal defense by DBusiness Magazine and Hour Magazine. He has also been chosen as a Super Lawyer in Criminal Defense.