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Defining Road Rage In The State Of Michigan

We’ve all heard horror stories about road rage that turned violent. Yet whether you’re traveling to work or the local grocery store, or on a vacation Up North, it’s good to know the legal ramifications of road rage or an auto accident situation.

It should be noted that Michigan doesn’t have a specific law that defines “road rage.” Yet there are a couple of statues where someone who has displayed some type of verbal and/or physical road rage could be charged under the Michigan Vehicle Code.

One is Careless Driving. The statute reads that: “A person who operates a vehicle upon a highway or a frozen public lake, stream, or pond or another 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 is a significant hit to someone’s driving record, adding three points. This civil infraction could result in a fine ranging up to or just over $200, but likely will also result in an increased car insurance premium upon renewal, and could lead to future license suspensions if further infractions are added down the line.

The other is Reckless Driving, which according to the statute occurs when: “A person who violates this section is guilty of reckless driving punishable as provided in this section.” Or:

“Except as otherwise provided in this section, a person who operates a vehicle upon a highway or a frozen public lake, stream, or pond or another 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 $500.00, or both.”

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 by 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 definitions are that Reckless Driving generally 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.

If you have experienced an injury because of an auto accident, or if you are the victim of a road rage incident, the experienced attorneys at Bashore Green are happy to help! Contact Us Today.