Why Reckless and Careless driving statutes impact Road Rage cases in Michigan


We have all heard horror stories about a seemingly innocent road rage incident that turned violent. Whether you are traveling to work in southeastern Michigan or the local grocery store anywhere in metro Detroit, it is good to know the legal ramifications associated with road rage.

It may be surprising to know that Michigan does not have a specific law that defines “road rage.” Yet there are a couple of statutes involving careless driving and reckless driving where someone who has displayed some type of verbal and/or physical road rage could be charged under the Michigan Vehicle Code. Obviously, if physical or verbal violence has occurred, there could be other legal ramifications as well.

Defining “reckless” or “careless” driving charges under  Michigan law

For this article we will stick with the definitions and impacts of careless and reckless driving as defined by state law. The careless driving statute reads that: “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 will add three points to a driver’s record, which is a significant penalty. This civil infraction could result in a fine ranging up to or just over $200, but likely will also result in a significantly higher car insurance premium upon renewal. Careless driving can also lead to future license suspensions if further infractions are added in the future.

Reckless driving is defined by a statute: “A person who violates this section is guilty of reckless driving punishable as provided in this section,” and “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 or both.”

The impact of a reckless driving charge following an auto accident

This more serious charge results in six points against a driver’s record. If reckless driving resulted in serious bodily injury, it could be charged as a felony punishable up to five years of jail time and a fine in the thousands of dollars. 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. Vehicle forfeiture may be imposed by a judge.

The differences between the two are that reckless driving refers to an intentional crime. Careless driving is more negligent in nature; thus, the penalties are often less severe. For example, a driver who tailgates another driver could be considered a careless driver whereas a driver who speeds, changes lanes without regard to other motorists and passes illegally on a shoulder is considered reckless.

Let experienced auto accident attorneys take the lead in your reckless or careless driving case

Lawrence Kajy and the personal injury attorneys at Kajy Law can help clients in southeastern Michigan determine how you might be able to get compensated following a car accident that caused an injury. We can also help with any situation where road rage may have occurred. Even if road rage wasn’t present, careless or reckless driving charges that result in an auto accident can have an impact on your case.

Contact Kajy Law today to learn more about the options available to you or someone you know following a car, truck, or motorcycle accident. Our team of experienced lawyers will create a plan for your case to help you get the support you deserve.

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