Most traffic violations lead to roadside stops and tickets. If you drive too fast, turn without using a signal or otherwise break Michigan’s traffic laws, a police officer may pull you over and write you a ticket.
Sometimes, the police officer will accuse you of more than just speeding or another minor infraction. They will allege that your behavior constitutes reckless driving, and they may arrest you as a result. Reckless driving is not just a traffic violation but a criminal offense that can lead to jail time, substantially bigger fines than traffic tickets carry and a criminal record.
What behavior is reckless driving under Michigan law?
Reckless driving involves a disregard for safety
Reckless driving, much like beauty, largely exists in the eye of the beholder. The police officer who witnessed your driving is the one who decides that it is serious enough to warrant more than a standard citation.
Michigan law says that anyone operating a vehicle in a way that demonstrates a disregard for the safety of others could face reckless driving charges. It is worth noting that these rules apply not just to the roads in Michigan but also to frozen waterways and frozen lakes. A police officer could arrest you for driving a vehicle for recreation on a lake in the winter if they believe your actions are very unsafe.
If the cause of the reckless driving allegation is excessive speeding or racing on public roads, then the charges will be a misdemeanor offense. Standard reckless driving allegations in Michigan can lead to as many as 93 days in state custody and $500 in fines.
If the reckless driving charges stem from a scenario that left another person injured, the state could charge you with a felony offense. The penalties would include up to five years in prison and $5,000 in fines. If reckless driving allegations stem from a fatal incident, the charges will still be felony charges, but the penalties will increase to as long as 15 years in state custody and up to $15,000 in fines.
Fighting back against traffic charges
Reckless driving allegations could affect your insurance costs and even your freedom. Challenging the accuracy of the information gathered at the time of your arrest or the officer’s version of events, which may include an inaccurate assumption about your intent, could be a starting point for a defense against reckless driving charges.
Reviewing the evidence against you can help you decide if you are in a position to fight back against allegations of a serious traffic infraction.