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Michigan New Resident Guide

Welcome to Michigan! As a new driver to this state you will need to be aware of our unique traffic laws and regulations. Here's what you need to keep in mind while driving in Michigan. Some of these rules may be the same as what you're already used to, but others will be drastically different!

Licensing and Residency Requirements



  • If a person, after making application for or obtaining the registration of a vehicle or a certificate of title, moves from the address named in the application, the person within 10 days after moving must notify the Secretary of State in writing of the old and new addresses.
  • New Michigan residents who are age 18 or older and wish to drive must obtain a Michigan driver's license upon moving to the state or obtaining employment with the intent of remaining in the state.
  • New Michigan residents must immediately title and register their vehicles at a Secretary of State office and turn in the title from their previous home state.


Graduated Licensing Program



Level 1 License

Requirements

  • Must be 14 years and 9 months
  • Must have completed 24 hours classroom education
  • Must have completed 6 hours behind the wheel experience
  • Must have completed 4 hours behind the wheel observation time
  • Must pass written exam and vision screening
  • Must meet health standards

Privileges and Restrictions

  • May drive only with parent or designated licensed adult age 21 or older

Level 2 License

Requirements

  • Must be 16 years of age
  • Must be crash and violation free for 90 days prior to application
  • Must have completed 50 hours of behind the wheel practice driving, including 10 hours night driving
  • Must have held valid Level 1 license for 6 consecutive months
  • Must have completed 6 additional hours classroom education and written exam
  • Must pass road test

Privileges and Restrictions

  • May not operate a motor vehicle between 10 PM and 5 AM except when driving to or from employment, authorized activity, or accompanied by a parent or legal guardian or designated licensed adult age 21 or older
  • May not transport more than 1 passenger in vehicle who is less than 21 years of age except when additional passengers are immediate family members, or when driving to or from employment, authorized activity, or accompanied by a parent or legal guardian or designated licensed adult age 21 or older

Level 3 License

Requirements

  • Must be at least 17 years of age
  • Must have held Level 2 License for 6 months
  • Must have 12 consecutive months of crash and violation free driving at Level 1 / Level 2

Privileges and Restrictions

  • Full driving privileges with no restrictions


Violation Point Counts

The amount of points that go against your driver's license for specific types of violations.



6 Point Violations

  • Manslaughter, negligent homicide, or other felony involving use of a motor vehicle.
  • Operating under the influence of liquor or drugs.
  • Failing to stop and give identification at the scene of a crash.
  • Reckless driving.
  • Unlawful bodily alcohol content of 0.08 or more.
  • Refusal to take a chemical test.
  • Fleeing or eluding a police officer.

4 Point Violations

  • Drag racing.
  • Operating while visibly impaired.
  • Under age 21 with any bodily alcohol content.
  • 16 mph or more over the legal speed limit.
  • Failure to yield/show due caution for emergency vehicles.

3 Point Violations

  • Careless driving.
  • Disobeying a traffic signal or stop sign or improper passing.
  • 11 through 15 mph over the legal speed limit.
  • Failure to stop at railroad crossing.
  • Failure to stop for a school bus or for disobeying a school crossing guard.

2 Point Violations

  • 10 mph or less over the legal speed limit.
  • Open alcohol container in vehicle.
  • All other moving violations of traffic laws.
  • Refusal of Preliminary Breath Test (PBT) by anyone under age 21.

How Long Points Stay on Record

Points placed on your driver record remain there for two years from the date of conviction.

Michigan's point system does not result in license suspension. Instead, it is tied to the Driver Responsibility Program which calls for monetary sanctions for drivers who:

  • Accumulate seven or more points on their driving record
    • Fees begin at $100 and increase by $50 for each additional point above seven points
    • Fee assessed each year in which seven or more points show on the record
  • Are convicted of specific qualifying offenses
    • May be assessed a fee of $150, $200, $500, or $1,000 for two consecutive years depending on type of offense
    • Multiple fees may apply if driver is convicted of multiple qualifying offenses
    • Failure to pay results in license suspension


Insurance Requirements



  • Personal Injury Protection (PIP) - PIP pays all reasonable and necessary medical expenses if you are hurt in an auto accident, including wage loss and replacement services up to three years.
  • Property Protection (PPI) - PPI pays up to $1 million for damage your vehicle does in Michigan to other people's property, such as buildings and fences.
  • Residual Bodily Injury and Property Damage Liability (BI/PD) - BI/PD pays, up to the limits of the policy, your defense costs and any damages you are found liable for as the result of an auto accident in which someone was killed or seriously injured. The minimum limits of coverage that everyone must purchase are:
    • $20,000 per person who is hurt or killed in an accident
    • $40,000 for each accident if several people are hurt or killed
    • Up to $10,000 for damage your vehicle does to property damage in another state.
    • These minimum limits are often referred to as 20/40/10. You can purchase higher limits of BI/PD coverage.


Headlight Laws



You must dim your headlights from high to low beam when you are within 500 feet of an oncoming vehicle.

You must use your headlights:

  • One half-hour after sunset until one half-hour before sunrise
  • At other times when visibility is reduced (124)
  • Any time there is not enough daylight to see people and vehicles clearly at 500 feet

There is no specific law allowing or prohibiting headlight flashing.



Implied Consent Laws



  • First refusal - 1 year suspension (a restricted/hardship license may be issued)
  • Second or subsequent refusal (within 7 years) - 2 years mandatory suspension.


DUI Penalties



Driving while under the influence

First offense

  • Up to 93 days imprisonment OR
  • Up to 360 hours community service OR
  • $100 - $500 fine
  • 180 days license suspension

First offense, if BAC .17 or greater

  • Up to 180 days imprisonment OR
  • Up to 360 hours community service OR
  • $200 - $700 fine
  • 180 days license suspension

Second offense (within 7 years)

  • $200 - $1,000 fine
  • 5 days - 1 year imprisonment
  • 30 - 90 days community service
  • Up to 1 year license revocation

Third or subsequent offense (felony)

  • $500 - $5,000 fine
  • 1 - 5 years imprisonment
  • Probation possible with imprisonment in county jail for 30 days - 1 year and community service 60 - 180 days
  • Up to 5 year license revocation

Driving while visibly impaired

First offense

  • Up to 93 days imprisonment OR
  • Up to 360 hours community service OR
  • Up to $300 fine
  • Up to 90 day license suspension

Second offense (within 7 years)

  • $200 - $1,000 fine
  • 5 days - 1 year imprisonment
  • 30 -90 days community service
  • Up to 1 year license revocation

Third or subsequent offense (felony)

  • $500 - $5,000 fine
  • 1 - 5 years imprisonment
  • Probation possible with imprisonment in county jail for 30 days - 1 year and community service 60 - 180 days
  • Up to 5 year license revocation

Serious impairment of bodily function (felony)

  • Up to 5 years imprisonment
  • $1,000 - $5,000 fine
  • Revocation up to 1 year
  • Subsequent offense: revocation up to 5 years

Child endangerment (operating with a minor under 16)

First offense

  • $200 - $1,000 fine
  • 5 days - 1 year imprisonment OR 30 days - 90 days community service
  • License suspension 180 days

Second offense (within 7 years) or subsequent offense (felony)

  • $500 - $5,000
  • 1 - 5 years imprisonment
  • Probation possible with imprisonment in county jail for 30 days - 1 year and community service 60 - 180 days

Ignition Interlock

If granted a restricted license, must install ignition interlock device for 1 year.



Open Container Law



The Open Container Law prohibits possession of an open alcoholic beverage container in the passenger area of any motor vehicle, by any occupant of the vehicle, on any public highway or right of way, whether or not the vehicle is in motion.



Red Light Violation Fines



Michigan does not have a state law governing red light fines or the use of traffic cameras for red light enforcement.



Construction Zone Penalties



All moving vehicle violations are subject to two times the original fine and up to 3 points, whether or not workers are present.

Under a separate law, reckless endangerment of workers in a roadway construction zone is punishable as follows:

  • Penalties for causing injury - not fewer than 3 points; maximum fine of $1,000 or up to 1 year in prison, or both.
  • Penalties for causing death - not fewer than 3 points; maximum fine of $7,500 or up to 15 years in prison, or both.


Turn Signal Information



Signal your intention to turn or change lanes at least 100 feet in advance. In heavy traffic or on freeways, signal sooner so drivers behind you have time to adjust their speed.



Hazard Light Information



Hazard light use is permitted for the purpose of warning other drivers of the presence of a vehicular traffic hazard requiring the exercise of unusual care in approaching, overtaking or passing.



Funeral Procession Right-of-Way Laws



  • The law gives a funeral procession the right-of-way over all other vehicles, except emergency vehicles, when it is going to a place of burial.
  • The vehicles in the procession must display a special orange flag to be accorded this privilege.
  • Other vehicles may not pass through a funeral procession.


School Bus Laws



Requirements

  • Vehicles are required to stop unless the bus is on the other side of a divided highway where the road is separated by a barrier, such as a concrete or grass median, island, or other structures that separate the flow of traffic.
  • Vehicles are required to stop at least 20 feet from the school bus.

Penalties

  • Up to 100 hours community service.
  • For a violation of section 682 or a local ordinance substantially corresponding to section 682, the person shall be ordered to pay costs as provided in subsection (4) and a civil fine of not less than $100.00 or more than $500.00.
  • Failure to stop and remain stopped when required will result in a $100 - $500 fine.


Bicyclist Passing Distance



There is no specific law regarding minimum safe passing distance.



Motorcycle Laws



Licensing

  • A person, before operating a motorcycle upon a public street or highway in this state, must procure a motorcycle endorsement on the operator's or chauffeur's license.
  • Before a person who is less than 18 years of age is issued an original motorcycle endorsement on an operator's or chauffeur's license, the person must pass an examination and a motorcycle safety course.
  • A person, before operating a moped upon a highway, must procure a special restricted license to operate a moped unless the person has a valid operator's or chauffeur's license. A special restricted license to operate a moped may be issued to a person 15 years of age or older if the person satisfies the Secretary of State that he is competent to operate a moped with safety.

Protective Gear

  • A person under age 21 operating or riding on a motorcycle on a public thoroughfare shall wear a U.S. DOT approved crash helmet. Persons age 21 and older must wear a helmet unless they have had a motorcycle endorsement for at least 2 years or have passed a motorcycle safety course, and have $20,000 in insurance.

Headlights

  • Daytime use of headlight not required.

Sharing the Road

  • Lane splitting is not authorized.
  • Two motorcycles may travel side-by-side in a single lane.


Using the Shoulder to Pass



You may not drive off the roadway to pass on the right.



Passing Laws



Do not pass:

  • When approaching or upon a hill or curve
  • When approaching within 100 feet of any bridge, viaduct, or tunnel

When being passed:

  • Give way to the right in favor of the overtaking vehicle
  • The overtaking vehicle may signal by honking its horn
  • Do not increase the speed of your vehicle until completely passed by the overtaking vehicle


Speed Limits



  • 70 mph on freeways (60 mph max. for trucks greater than 10,000 lbs., or vehicles drawing another vehicle or trailer).
  • 55 mph on other highways.
  • 35 mph on a highway segment with 45-59 vehicular access points within 1/2 mile.
  • 45 mph on a highway segment with 30-44 vehicular access points within 1/2 mile.
  • 25 mph (prima facie unlawful speed) in business or residential districts, in public parks or in school zones or on a highway with 60 or more vehicular access points within ½ mile.
    • The prima facie school zone speed limit is in force 30 min - 1 hour before school is in session to 30 min - 1 hour after school is in session, and during lunch periods when children are allowed to leave the school


Safety Belt and Child Safety Seat Laws



Safety Belts

  • Occupants 16 years and older in the front seat must wear safety belts.
  • Police may stop vehicles solely for belt law violations.
  • The fine for a first offense is $25.

Child Seats

  • Children 7 years and younger or less than 57 inches must be in a child seat.
  • Children 8 through 15 years and children who are at least 57 inches tall must be restrained, and may use an adult safety belt.
  • Children 3 years and younger must be in the rear seat if available.
  • Police may stop vehicles solely for child seat law violations.
  • The fine for a first offense is $10. If the total fine and costs imposed are more than $10, the person may be ordered to pay a $40 justice system assessment.


Emergency Vehicle Laws



Move Over

  • When you see any of these vehicles displaying flashing lights while stopped on or adjacent to the roadway:
    • Emergency vehicles
    • Road service vehicle
  • You must do the following:
  • On any public roadway with at least 2 adjacent lanes proceeding in the same direction of the stationary authorized emergency vehicle, move into a lane at least 1 moving lane or 2 vehicle widths apart from the vehicle.
  • On any public roadway that does not have at least 2 adjacent lanes proceeding in the same direction as the stationary authorized emergency vehicle, or if a lane change is not possible, reduce and maintain a safe speed for weather, road conditions, and vehicular or pedestrian traffic and proceed with due care and caution.

Following

  • Do not follow a fire apparatus traveling in response to a fire alarm closer than 500 feet, or drive into or park within 500 feet of where the fire apparatus has stopped in answer to a fire alarm.

Collision Procedures

  • Stop
    • Stop at the scene or as close as possible without obstructing traffic more than necessary, and remain at the scene until all requirements are fulfilled.
    • If there is a reasonable and honest belief that remaining at the scene will result in further harm, the driver may immediately report the accident to the nearest police department or officer.
  • If there has been no serious bodily injury or death, move the vehicle off of the roadway if it may be done safely and the motor vehicle is capable of being normally and safely operated.
  • You must provide the following information to any other person involved in the accident, or any police officer at the scene of the crash:
    • Driver's name and address
    • Owner's name and address
    • Vehicle registration number
    • Show driver's license
  • Provide assistance to any injured person, including transporting them or making arrangements for transportation to a hospital or doctor, if necessary or requested.
  • Unattended vehicle or property
    • If you have collided with a vehicle that is unattended, locate and notify the operator or owner if possible of the driver's name and address and the owner's name and address. If you are unable to do so, report it to the nearest police officer.
    • If you have collided with other property that is unattended, locate and notify the owner if possible of the driver's name and address, the vehicle registration number, and show your driver's license if requested. If you are unable to do so, report it to the nearest police officer.
  • If the crash resulted in injury, death, or property damage of $1,000 or more, you must report the accident to the nearest police officer.


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