Michigan Rules of the Road

Sinas Dramis Law Firm hopes that providing this Michigan rules of the road resource will help educate drivers and keep motorists of all kinds safe. This resource is not intended to provide legal guidance or representation, but is an accurate reflection of the Michigan Motor Vehicle Code, and will help answer questions drivers might have before getting behind the wheel.

What are Michigan’s laws about distracted driving?

Under Michigan law, texting while driving is illegal. This includes reading, typing, or sending a text message. Exceptions are in place for reporting crashes, crimes, or other emergencies. Drivers, currently only face a fine of $100 for a first offense and $200 for subsequent violations. However, if you are found to be a distracted driver who causes a crash, the penalties can be much more severe. Lawmakers are reviewing laws aimed at cracking down on distracted driving and making penalties more severe.

Can you talk on the phone while driving in Michigan?

Yes, adults under the current law can talk on the phone. Teens with a Graduated Driver Licensing Level 1 Learner’s License or Level 2 Intermediate License are prohibited from initiating a call, answering a call, or listening to or engaging in verbal communication through a mobile phone. They could receive up to $295 in fines and costs if they are ticketed.

What are Michigan’s seat belt laws?

Everyone, no matter their age, needs to wear a seatbelt in the front seat. Anyone over the age of 16 technically does not have to wear one in the back seat. All children younger than age 8 or under 4 feet, 9 inches tall are to be in an approved child-safety seat or booster seat in all seating positions. It goes without saying though, you should always wear a seatbelt when riding in a car.

Is it legal to leave your kids in the car for any amount of time?

Under Michigan law, it is illegal to leave children younger than 6 years old unattended in a vehicle if the amount of time or circumstances in which they are left poses an unreasonable risk of harm or injury. Parents or guardians who leave their children in a vehicle under the supervision of someone age 13 or older who is not legally incapacitated are not in violation of the law.

Do I have to pull over for emergency vehicles in Michigan?

Yes, per the Michigan Motor Vehicle Code, if you see an emergency vehicle approaching from any direction with its red and blue lights flashing, rotating, or oscillating, the law requires you to pull over to the edge of the roadway or highway, clear of intersections, and stop. You are required to remain there until the emergency vehicle has passed. You should stay alert as more than one emergency vehicle may be responding to the call. Keep a foot on the brake so the brake lights let emergency vehicle drivers know you have stopped.

What do you do when an emergency vehicle is stopped on the side of the road with its lights flashing in Michigan?

When you see a stopped emergency vehicle, the law requires you to slow down to 10 mph below the posted speed limit and move over a lane if traffic and conditions allow. If you can’t move over, proceed with caution, keeping as much space as possible between you and the stopped emergency vehicle.

In Michigan, Do you have to remove snow and ice from your car before driving?

Under the Michigan Motor Vehicle Code, it is illegal for snow or ice to fall off cars and onto the road while driving. Drivers who fail to clear their cars properly may face tickets and fines. It’s important to completely clean off your vehicle, even the parts that don’t obstruct your view, before taking off.

Is it legal to drive through a yellow light in Michigan?

Per the Michigan Motor Vehicle Code, “if the signal exhibits a steady yellow indication, vehicular traffic facing the signal shall stop before entering the nearest crosswalk at the intersection or at a limit line when marked, but if the stop cannot be made safely, a vehicle may be driven cautiously through the intersection.”  Under this rule, it is typically always illegal for people to speed up to get through a yellow light.

Does Michigan have tailgating laws?

“The operator of a motor vehicle shall not follow another vehicle more closely than is reasonable and prudent, having due regard for the speed of the vehicles and the traffic upon and the condition of the highway.” So essentially, you need to maintain a distance between another vehicle so that you have time to stop should you have to suddenly.

If you’re driving on a roadway with multiple lanes going in the same direction, in Michigan does it matter what lane you use?

Under the Michigan Motor Vehicle Code, you must use the far right lane unless otherwise to pass. There are of course exceptions when road construction or emergency vehicles are concerned, but it’s a good rule of practice to stay in the far right lane as much as possible. You can receive a ticket for violating this law.

What are Michigan’s school bus laws?

If a bus is stopped, even if it doesn’t have a stop sign extended, drivers traveling in both directions are required to come to a complete stop at least 20 feet away from the school bus. Drivers must remain stopped until the school bus resumes moving down the road or turns off its red flashing lights. The only exception to these rules is for drivers traveling in the opposite direction of a school bus when the lanes of traffic for motorists traveling in different directions are separated by a physical barrier or “intervening space,” such as a boulevard, which serves as a barrier between traffic traveling in opposite directions.

Driving while on prescription drugs?

Michigan law states, “A person shall not operate a vehicle on a highway or other place open to the general public or generally accessible to motor vehicles, including an area designated for the parking of vehicles if the person is intoxicated”. So, what does that mean:

  • Alcohol consumption with a blood alcohol level of .08 or higher.
  • A controlled substance, or what‘s defined as a schedule 1 drug under section 7212 of the public health code, 1978 PA 368, MCL 333.7212. There is an extensive list.
  • Other intoxicating substances such as marijuana or of course the list of illegal drugs.

What do I do when I get pulled over in Michigan?

Per the state of Michigan, there are four steps to follow during a traffic stop:

  • First, when you notice emergency lights behind you, pull over to the right side of the road as soon as it’s safe to do so. Generally, the rule of thumb is that if an officer has turned on their lights, they’ve determined it’s safe to pull over. Keep calm and try to remain still. Stay in your vehicle, open the driver’s side window, and keep your hands in sight on the steering wheel.
  • When the officer asks, provide your driver’s license, vehicle registration, and proof of insurance. At this point in the traffic stop, the officer should tell you why you were stopped. If he or she doesn’t, it’s okay to inquire about the reason for the stop once you have provided your driver’s license, vehicle registration, and proof of insurance. When addressing the officer, speak with the same level of respect you expect from them.
  • If the officer issues you a citation, don’t argue the reason for it during the traffic stop. The best and most appropriate place to dispute a citation is in court.
  • When the officer tells you it’s okay to leave, make sure your seat belt is buckled and that it’s safe to enter the roadway before pulling out. As you get back on the road, follow all traffic laws, including using your turn signal. The officer will likely remain on the side of the road, with lights activated, until you have safely re-entered traffic.