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Elements of the Crime: Reckless Driving

A criminal charge is made up of elements. When a defendant is charged with a crime, the prosecutor must prove each element beyond a reasonable doubt. Here are the elements comprising the misdemeanor charge of Reckless Driving.

M Crim JI 15.15 Reckless Driving

(1) [The defendant is charged with the crime of reckless driving. To prove this charge, the prosecutor must prove each of the following elements beyond a reasonable doubt:

(2) First, that the defendant drove a motor vehicle on a highway or other place open to the public [or generally accessible to motor vehicles, including a designated parking area].

(3) Second, that the defendant drove the motor vehicle in willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property. “Willful or wanton disregard” means more than simple carelessness but does not require proof of an intent to cause harm. It means knowingly disregarding the possible risks to the safety of people or property.

A “highway” is the entire area between the boundary lines of a publicly maintained roadway, any part of which is open for automobile travel. People v Bartel, 213 Mich App 726, 728-729, 540 NW2d 491 (1995).

Reckless Driving also carries sanctions from the Michigan Secretary of State, including 6 points on one's license and a 90 day mandatory license suspension.

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