Thinking you may need a Reckless Driving Lawyer? Here is some information on a Minnesota Reckless Driving charge.
What is the difference between a Careless Driving and Reckless Driving charge in Minnesota?
First, what do they have in common? Both are subdivisions of the same Minnesota Statutes Section 169.13 (2017):
“Subdivision 1. Reckless driving. (a) A person who drives a motor vehicle while aware of and consciously disregarding a substantial and unjustifiable risk that the driving may result in harm to another or another’s property is guilty of reckless driving. The risk must be of such a nature and degree that disregard of it constitutes a significant deviation from the standard of conduct that a reasonable person would observe in the situation.
(b) A person shall not race any vehicle upon any street or highway of this state. Any person who willfully compares or contests relative speeds by operating one or more vehicles is guilty of racing, which constitutes reckless driving, whether or not the speed contested or compared is in excess of the maximum speed prescribed by law.
(c) A person who violates paragraph (a) or (b) is guilty of a misdemeanor. A person who violates paragraph (a) or (b) and causes great bodily harm or death to another is guilty of a gross misdemeanor.
(d) For purposes of this section, “great bodily harm” has the meaning given in section 609.02, subdivision 8.
Subd. 2. Careless driving. Any person who operates or halts any vehicle upon any street or highway carelessly or heedlessly in disregard of the rights of others, or in a manner that endangers or is likely to endanger any property or any person, including the driver or passengers of the vehicle, is guilty of a misdemeanor.”
Which is worse? They are similar in many ways. Though rarely done, Reckless Driving can be charged as a gross misdemeanor, while Careless Driving cannot be. That, combined with the intent language makes Reckless Driving seem the worse of the two, even when comparing both charged as a misdemeanor.
Subdivision 3 of the Statute contains several exceptions, for emergency vehicles, for emergencies in any vehicle “when avoiding imminent danger,” and “any raceway, racing facility, or other public event sanctioned” by government.
Street racing is specifically mentioned as reckless driving. But track racing is specifically excepted.
“Emergency operation of any vehicle when avoiding imminent danger” is a defense to both reckless and careless driving.
A Minnesota defense lawyer analyzing a case charged under one of these two crimes will look at both the apparent driving conduct observed, as well as the intent of the driver at the time.
Question? Contact Minnesota Reckless Driving Lawyer Thomas Gallagher at (612) 333-1500.