Michigan Reckless Driving

A standard reckless driving conviction in Michigan results in up to 93 days in jail and up to $500 in fines.
Written by Kaitlin May
Reviewed by Jessica Barrett
Reckless driving in
is a criminal charge that carries a minimum three-month stay in jail and up to $500 in fines.
Erratic driving isn’t just frowned upon—it can lead to life-altering consequences like injuries or even death. Drivers who make risky decisions on the road that compromise the safety of others will earn themselves a reckless driving charge. The consequences reflect the severity of the driver’s actions with legal and financial penalties that have long-lasting effects. 
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How does Michigan define reckless driving?

The Michigan Vehicle Code considers reckless driving an instance where a motorist “operates a vehicle… in willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property.”
More specifically in the Water-Winter Wonderland,
Section 257.626
of the code mentions negligence for the safety of others while driving on a “frozen public lake, stream, or pond or other places open to the general public” is also considered a reckless driving offense.
Each incident is judged on a case-by-case basis and a law enforcement officer will subjectively determine the driver’s intent behind a dangerous maneuver at the scene.

What are the penalties for reckless driving in Michigan?

Most drivers can expect a misdemeanor charge for driving recklessly in Michigan. At the very least, reckless driving is a criminal offense that carries the following penalties:
  • Up to 93 days in jail
  • A maximum $500 fine
If someone is seriously injured or killed as a result of a reckless driving accident, the consequences are more severe. In cases where physical harm is caused, the driver will be convicted of one of two felony charges.

Serious injuries

  • A driver earns a felony when they cause “serious impairment of a body function”
  • They’ll receive up to five years in prison and/or between $1,000 and $5,000 in fines 
  • Their vehicle will be immobilized for up to six months or forfeited completely


  • A driver is convicted of a felony if a person is killed as a result of their actions
  • They’ll receive up to 15 years in prison and/or between $2,500 and $10,000 in fines
  • Their vehicle will be immobilized for up to six months or forfeited completely
The penalties aren’t capped at jail time, fines, and revoked vehicle access. Any variation of a reckless driving charge comes with a 90-day license suspension and six points on your driving record.

How can I remove reckless driving from my record?

Reckless driving holds more weight than a standard traffic ticket—and it won’t disappear from your
Michigan driving record
once the dust settles. While the six points added to your driving record will stay there for two years, the reckless driving charge will remain on your criminal record for life.
It’s possible to get points reduced in Michigan when drivers complete a Michigan Basic Driver Improvement Course (BDIC). Each course comes with varying prices and content. After you complete the course, you can shed some points from your driving record. 
All cases are subjective, and the best way to find out what your options are is to reach out to the Michigan SOS.

Defending your case in court

In terms of the life-long damage done to your criminal record, you’ll need to lawyer up to have any chance at reducing the charges. Their knowledge of your case can help sway the court’s decision if they achieve any of the following:
  • Negotiate a plea to lessen the reckless driving charge to a careless driving offense
  • Prove you weren’t at fault by presenting evidence that another driver was at fault
  • Demonstrate that a medical event (like a seizure) was the cause of the maneuver
  • Consult witnesses and your previous driving record to defend your case
Key Takeaway While enlisting the help of a lawyer doesn’t offer any guarantees, a lesser charge can spare you jail time, money, and negative impacts on your car insurance rates.

Will reckless driving make my insurance go up?

A reckless driving conviction can have a devastating impact on your
car insurance
premium. The penalties and points on your record could surge your monthly payments by 203%.
With the average insurance rates in Michigan factored in, you’ll be looking at an annual cost upwards of $9,369. Not only is that detrimental to your wallet on its own, but it can be unmanageable when it’s combined with the costs of your conviction.
The best way to avoid astronomical insurance rates is to practice safe driving habits and err on the side of caution. If you’ve already committed the reckless driving defense, using a comparison app, like
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You’ll risk being charged with reckless driving in Michigan when you drive 25 mph or more above the posted speed limit.
Under Michigan state law, it’s not possible to have a reckless driving charge expunged from your criminal record.
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