What is the Difference Between Careless Driving and Reckless Driving?

Have you been given a ticket for careless driving or been charged with reckless driving? The charges might sound similar but there are large differences.

Careless Driving

Careless driving is defined by the statute as driving in a careless or negligent manner likely to endanger any person or property, but without wantonness or recklessness. MCL 257.626b.

Careless driving is a civil infraction. The Secretary of State will assess 3 points on your driving record for a finding of responsibility of careless driving. In addition, you are unable to take the basic driver improvement course to get the points removed from your record and keep the ticket off your record.

A careless driving ticket would be contested in a formal hearing. The statute does not exactly define what behavior and actions would constitute careless driving. The decision would be made by a judge at the formal hearing.

Reckless Driving

Reckless driving is a more serious charge than careless driving. Reckless driving is defined by statute as driving in a willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property. MCL 257.626.

Willful and wanton means more than simple carelessness. However, it does not require intent to cause harm. Willful and wanton means knowingly disregarding the possible risks to the safety of persons or property.

Reckless driving is a misdemeanor, punishable by up to 93 days in jail, costs and fines, or both.

A conviction for reckless driving comes with stiff driver’s license sanctions. A reckless conviction will come with 6 points and a mandatory 90 day license suspension. A second conviction within 7 years of a prior conviction will result in the revocation of your driver’s license.There will also be a driver’s responsibility fee of $500.00.

While careless driving would be contested in a formal hearing because it’s a civil infraction, a reckless driving would be contested in a real trial, with all the protections that go along with a trial.

Need Help With a Traffic Ticket?

We represent clients for traffic violations and traffic tickets almost every day. For a civil infraction traffic ticket, we can appear in court for you without you there. No need to take off work. We will attend the formal hearing on your behalf. For a reckless driving charge, you will need to appear in court in person, because it is a misdemeanor. Call us to discuss your options, see how you can save points, and see how you can challenge the case against you. Don’t plead guilty or take responsibility without speaking with an attorney first.

Call us at 734.883.9584

Call Sam Bernstein at 734.883.9584 or e-mail at bernstein@arborypsilaw.com.

Sam Bernstein is a traffic ticket lawyer in Ypsilanti and Ann Arbor.

ArborYpsi Law is located at 4158 Washtenaw Ave., Ann Arbor, MI 48108.

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