Reckless Driving

Reckless driving is not a petty traffic offense – it carries serious punishment and, in some cases, jail time. Michigan law features elevating degrees of punishment based on the seriousness of your reckless driving offense. If your reckless driving offense included the death or serious injury of another person, you can even face a felony, thousands in fines, and extended prison time. Given the seriousness of the offense, it is critical you hire an attorney like me who understands what is at stake and how to defend the charges.

ZAYID LAW has proven results and aggressively defends clients in Macomb County, Oakland County, Washtenaw County, and Wayne County.


What is “Reckless” Driving?

“Reckless” driving means you were driving a vehicle “in willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property.” MCL 257.626

  • “Willful” = deliberate or intentional, rather than accidental.
  • “Wanton disregard” = reckless disregard for the consequences of your actions.

As you can see, the definition of reckless driving is vague, and police officers have considerable deference. An easy way to understand the charge is like this: if you know something is dangerous or risky and decide to do it anyway, you are acting “reckless.” Common examples of reckless driving that ZAYID LAW has experience defending include:

  • Changing lanes at high rate of speed and weaving in and out of traffic
  • Texting while speeding
  • Road rage
  • Deliberate tailgating
  • Blatant disregard of traffic control devices

This charge can be very subjective and it is dependent on the facts and circumstances of the case. Understanding the key considerations of what conduct rises to the level of “reckless” under Michigan law, and the defenses to reckless driving charges, requires the expertise of ZAYID LAW. Call me today to discuss the mitigating factors of your case and how to defend your reckless driving charge.


Reckless driving in and of itself is a very serious offense, however the penalties become more severe if the reckless driving results in injury or death to other people.

  • Standard reckless driving. Misdemeanor
    • Up to 93 days in jail and/or a maximum $500 fine.
    • 90-day license suspension
    • Six points on driver’s license
  • Reckless driving involving serious injuries: Felony.
    • Up to 5 years in prison and/or $1,000 to $5,000 in fines.
    • Six points on driver’s license
    • The judge must also order that the motorist’s vehicle be immobilized for up to 180 days or forfeited altogether.
  • Reckless driving involving death: Felony.
    • Up to 15 years in prison and/or $2,500 to $10,000 in fines.
    • Six points on driver’s license
    • The judge must also order that the motorist’s vehicle be immobilized for up to 180 days or forfeited altogether.

Reckless v. Careless Driving

Michigan has a less severe driving offense called “careless driving,” which is usually reserved for situations where a driver did not act intentionally dangerous. The offense is defined as driving “in a careless or negligent manner likely to endanger any person or property, but without wantonness or recklessness.” MCL 257.626b.

The difference between reckless and careless driving is also subjective and based on the unique circumstances of each case. The key consideration is whether the driver was acting intentionally when driving dangerously. If the driver unwittingly made a mistake on the road, it is more likely they will be charged with careless driving. Another key distinction in terms of punishment is that careless driving is only a civil infraction, which means it includes half the points (3) on your driving record than reckless driving (6).

ZAYID LAW’S Reckless Driving Strategy

As noted above, reckless driving charges are very subjective and rely upon the observations of the charging officer. I understand that this offense is fact dependent and I work to identify the facts that will help you mitigate the charges and achieve the best possible outcome. There are several strategies I employ to ensure your rights are protected:

  • Charge Dismissal – It is important to note that a prosecutor has the burden of proving every element of the crime. ZAYID LAW has experience in poking holes in the prosecution’s theory and calling into question whether our clients’ conduct met the requisite elements of a reckless driving charge.
  • Charge Reduction – While dismissal is not always possible, ZAYID LAW also has had success in reducing reckless driving charges to careless driving by arguing that our clients’ conduct was not intentional and did not rise to the level of “reckless.” This is a critical reduction with respect to the potential effect on both your criminal and driving record.

ZAYID LAW understand what it takes to aggressively defend a reckless driving charge in Michigan and works tirelessly to dismiss, reduce or otherwise achieve the best outcome for your case to get you back on the road and back on track. Call me today to discuss your reckless driving charge and how we can best defend your case.