Michigan Motorist Info

The following information is updated periodically. However, laws and regulations can change between updates. State statutes and local ordinances are the ultimate authorities for these issues.

Michigan Motorist Legislation
100th Michigan Legislature — 2019-2020

Information correct as of October 6, 2020.

Michigan’s Unique Speed-limit Law

  • Michigan has the nation’s most advanced law requiring data-driven speed limits.
  • Many local governments violate this law.  Most Michigan city-street speed limits were invalidated by state acts in 2006 and 2016, but signs remain unchanged and tickets continue to be issued.
  • Two criteria control minimum local speed limits under Michigan law:  the count of intersections and driveways per half mile; or the 85th percentile speed unless an “engineering and safety study” recommends another limit no lower than the 50th percentile speed.  See MCL 257.627 and 628.  For a posted limit to be lower than that dictated by the count of driveways, the local jurisdiction must produce—

Speed-survey data establishing the 85th and 50th percentile speeds.

An engineering and safety study recommending the posted limit.

The traffic control order (TCO) on file at the city or county clerk’s office, noting the subsection of state law under which the limit is established.

If these three documents do not exist, then the 55-mph default speed limit or the count of driveways and intersections governs the minimum limit that may be enforced.

Other Points of Interest

  • Michigan’s “keep right except to pass” law applies only on freeways with two lanes in each direction, and not on freeways with three or more lanes on each side.
  • Michigan’s “move over” law requires slowing by 10 mph below the posted limit and changing lanes if possible for almost any stopped vehicle with a flashing light of any color.
  • It’s a felony to transport more than $50 worth of cigarettes into Michigan.
  • Drivers may mask traffic convictions from insurers by taking an approved driver-improvement course, once.

Statutory Speed Limits

Statutory limits apply unless the speed limit is “modified” under MCL 257.628.  See above.

Rural Interstates: Cars 70 (75 on select segments), Trucks 65
Urban Interstates: Cars 70, Trucks 60*
Other limited-access freeways (US routes): Cars 70, Trucks 60*

* 55 for trucks if speed limit for cars is less than 70 MPH

Unposted roads are 55 mph.  Unposted streets within subdivisions are 25 mph.  Through streets adjacent to subdivisions must be posted.

Absolute Limits  (Exceeding the speed limit is illegal per se—regardless of whether it was safe under the prevailing conditions.)  State highways (I, US, and M routes) and county roads outside subdivisions have absolute limits.
Prima Facie Limits  (Driving faster than the speed limit is only evidence of unreasonable speed–you can argue that your speed was reasonable under the specific conditions.)  Although not explicitly stated since 2016, statutory, city street, and subdivision limits are probably still prima facie.  This is untested in court.

Speed-enforcement Techniques
Enforced through use of:
Pacing: Yes
Radar: Yes
Vascar: Yes
Automated Speed Enforcement: No
Aircraft:  No
Laser:  Yes

Ticket Payment Options
Consult your ticket or clerk of court

Trial by Declaration Allowed
No

Discovery
Probably not allowed

Jury Trial Allowed
Speeding:  No
Parking:  No
Equipment:  No
DWI:  Yes

Member of Nonresident Compact
No

Member of Driver License Compact
Yes, since 2018.

When and Where to File Accident Reports
The driver of a motor vehicle involved in an accident that injures or kills any person, or that damages property to an apparent extent totaling $1,000 or more, shall immediately report that accident at the nearest or most convenient police station, or to the nearest or most convenient police officer.

Resident Insurance Requirements
Michigan’s no-fault insurance law was greatly changed effective July 1, 2020.  Mandatory unlimited medical care was repealed, and liability minimums increased.

Liability insurance is required (except for cars registered in states not requiring insurance).
Minimum coverage required:
Injury to one person:  $50,000 if minimum coverage is selected, otherwise $250,000
All injuries:  $100,000 if minimum coverage is selected, otherwise $500,000

Phone/Texting Restrictions
Hand-Held Ban:  Local option
All Cell-phones Ban:  Level 1 or 2 graduated-license holders
Texting Ban:  All drivers
Enforcement:  Primary for texting by all drivers and level 1 or 2 graduated-license holders
http://www.ncsl.org/research/transportation/cellular-phone-use-and-texting-while-driving-laws.aspx

Other Regulations

  • Open intoxicants are prohibited in the vehicle.
  • The BAC level is 0.08 per cent.
  • Michigan has an administrative license suspension law and an implied consent law. The breathalyzer refusal penalty is a 6-month driver’s license suspension.
  • The second conviction for any alcohol-related offense within 7 years is treated as a felony (including non-driving-related convictions).
  • Long guns must be transported unloaded and encased or contained in the trunk; hand guns may not be carried in a vehicle without a license to carry.
  • Studded tires are technically permitted, if they meet the standards adopted by the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT), but no standards have ever been issued.
  • Tire chains are not required.
  • Michigan has a seat-belt law with primary enforcement for all front-seat occupants and all rear-seat occupants under 16 years of age, although passengers in excess of the number of seat belts need not wear belts. Children under age 4 must be in approved safety seats.
  • Michigan helmet law–partial: <21 or no additional insurance (riders and passengers)
  • Registration and insurance card must be carried in the vehicle.  Documents may be produced on electronic devices.

General Information

http://www.legislature.mi.gov/(S(lu3ux4tuxks1z5ad1gy2hyhc))/mileg.aspx?page=getObject&objectName=mcl-Act-300-of-1949  Michigan Vehicle Code, current edition
http://courts.mi.gov/Self-help/center/casetype/Pages/Infraction.aspx (Michigan Courts)
Emergency Cellular Phone Number: 911