Reckless Driving vs. DUI: What’s the Difference? Reckless driving in Michigan has a slew of possible criminal charges, whether you’re under the influence of drugs/alcohol or not. However, there is a distinct difference between being charged with reckless driving and being charged with a DUI.
What is Reckless Driving?
Under state law (MCL 257.626), reckless driving is defined as:
“….operating 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.”
More often than not, reckless driving in Michigan is given when an individual is driving erratically while sober. However, an experienced DUI attorney has the ability to reduce a DUI charge to reckless driving depending on the case’s circumstances. While this happens very infrequently, it’s always advantageous to present it as an option to the prosecutor.
Consequences for Reckless Driving vs. DUI in Michigan
Consequences vary between standard reckless driving vs DUI. Reckless driving involving serious injuries and reckless driving involving death. However, the consequences for standard reckless driving are as follows:
1. Jail Time
Most likely. If this is a misdemeanor/traffic offense, you can serve up to 93 days in jail.
The maximum amount for a misdemeanor reckless driving fine is $500.
3. Misdemeanor or Felony Charges
This depends on many factors including speed, intent, jurisdiction and more.
4. Criminal Record
While six (6) points will be added to your driving record, a reckless driving charge will stay on your criminal record for a lifetime.
5. Vehicle Impound
The car is usually not impounded unless the driver is charged with another offense.
6. Suspended License
Your license will be suspended for 90 days.
What is Careless Driving?
Michigan has another offense called “careless driving”, which is defined as:
“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.”
This charge describes carelessness while driving, but without an intent to cause harm. As a civil infraction, your record will not be tarnished if found responsible for careless driving. However, there is a small fine and three (3) points will be added to your driving record.
Reckless Driving vs. DUI: The Takeaway
While not as severe as a DUI charge, the consequences of a reckless driving vs. DUI in Michigan can be serious and hinder your day-to-day life. If you’ve been arrested or charged with reckless driving, contact our team of experienced criminal defense attorneys. We can not only explain the facts of the case as it applies to the law, but fight for your license and your future.
Sydney Fairman is the Social Media Marketing Specialist for the Law Offices of Barton Morris and Cannabis Legal Group. While at Central Michigan University, Sydney was an active member of Alpha Sigma Alpha sorority and held various internships, leadership and part-time positions. These places of employment include the City of Mt. Pleasant, Grand Central Magazine, Mackinac State Historic Parks and WCMU Public Media (PBS). She graduated in May 2018 with a Bachelors Degree in Applied Arts in Integrative Public Relations and minor in Journalism. Sydney comes to us after her first position post-college with Gale, a Cengage Company as a Marketing Associate. She possesses a passion for writing, marketing and graphic design and showcases this on the Law Offices of Barton Morris’ website/social media channels, as well as Cannabis Legal Group’s website/social media channels.