Michigan Driving Regulations
All residents, non-residents, and international visitors must possess valid operators' licenses to drive in Michigan, as well as automobile registration certificates and proof of insurance for vehicles driven.
Information about “Super Drunk Law”
On October 31st, 2010, the new “Super Drunk” law went into effect. This law states that a person driving a vehicle with a blood alcohol level of .17 or higher can be convicted under an enhanced operating while intoxicated charge. This law only applies to first time offenders with a blood alcohol level of .17 or higher. People with a blood alcohol level between .08 to .16 or that have prior convictions will be prosecuted under the existing operating while intoxicated laws. The new law will include an additional $200 in fines as well as up to 180 days in jail. It also includes mandatory alcohol rehabilitation and a one year suspension of driving privileges. Drivers will be eligible for a restricted license after 45 days if they agree to and install an interlock device on their car. There will also be a $1000 driver responsibility fee for two consecutive years. Furthermore, drivers will still be responsible for the cost of prosecution.
or get pulled over.
Drinking & Driving
On September 30, 2003, changes to Michigan’s drunk driving laws became effective throughout the state. These changes were passed unanimously by the Michigan Legislature to maintain federal highway funds, but several additional new laws were packaged along with the new .08% threshold.
Semantically, the new laws re-defined the prior offense of OUIL (operating under the influence of intoxicating liquors) to OWI (operating while intoxicated). The prior charge of OWI (operating while impaired) was altered to OWVI (operating while visibly impaired) to avoid confusion. The new offense of OWI incorporates the .08 per se standard, lowering the prohibited blood alcohol content (BAC) level from .10 to .08.
Under Michigan’s prior drunk driving laws, the offense of operating while visibly impaired, which prohibited driving with a blood alcohol level greater than .07 but less than .10, remains in effect, but the new impaired provisions do not have any numerical blood alcohol levels to define when a driver is impaired. In essence, there are few differences between a charge of OWI and OWVI, but an impaired charge carried slightly lower fines and slightly less harsh driving sanctions. As such, under Michigan’s prior drunk driving laws, the federally mandated threshold of .08 was already effectively enforced in Michigan.
Another significant change under the new 0.08 law includes longer suspension periods for refusing to submit to a Datamaster Breathalyzer test. Under Michigan’s prior drunk driving law, anyone who wrongfully refused a police officer’s request would lose their driving privileges for a period of six months. Under the new law, the suspension is lengthened from six months to one year for a first implied consent refusal and two years for any additional refusals within a 7-year period.
The "zero tolerance" law prohibits anyone under the age of 21 from operating a motor vehicle with "any bodily alcohol content" defined as a blood alcohol level in excess of 0.02 but less than 0.08. If the underage driver's blood alcohol level exceeds 0.08, presumably the underage driver will be charged with the more serious offense of Operating while Intoxicated (OWI). In the event that an underage driver is charged with OWI, a court is not permitted to dismiss the more serious charge, although a prosecutor maintains that ability in plea negotiations.
Seat Belt Law
To view Michigan's Seat Belt law, click here.
Michigan has a primary seat belt law, which means law enforcement can stop and ticket motorists solely for not being buckled up.
The law requires:
- Passengers 8-15 to buckle up in all seating positions
- Drivers and front seat passengers to be buckled up
- Children younger than age 4 to ride in a car seat in the rear seat if the vehicle has a rear seat. If all available rear seats are occupied by children under 4, then a child under 4 may ride in a car seat in the front seat. A child in a rear-facing car seat may only ride in the front seat if the airbag is turned off.
- Children to be properly buckled in a car seat or booster seat until they are 8 years old or 4-feet-9-inches tall. Children must ride in a seat until they reach the age requirement or the height requirement, whichever comes first.
A person with a qualifying disability is eligible for a disability license plate or parking placard. To obtain a disability plate or placard, Michigan law requires that people be blind or have any condition that significantly limits their ability to walk or requires a wheelchair, walker, crutch or other assistive device.
Disability parking placards are limited to one per person. Permanent disability placards are valid for four years and are issued to individuals whose condition is not expected to improve. Temporary disability placards are valid from one to six months and are issued to individuals whose condition is expected to improve.
A person may have both a disability license plate and a placard. Free parking is provided only to vehicles displaying a disability placard with a yellow free-parking sticker. The requirements for obtaining a free-parking sticker are more narrowly defined than for a disability license plate or placard.
Right on Red
Where not otherwise prohibited, Michigan allows right turns on red after a full stop. Michigan also allows left turns onto one-way streets when there is no oncoming traffic.
Graduated Driver's Licensing
Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) is a driver licensing system designed to teach teens to drive by gradually increasing their driving privileges as they advance through the system. GDL consists of two segments of driver education instruction and three licensing levels.
The three licensing levels in GDL are: a supervised learner's license (Level 1 License), an intermediate license that limits passengers and unsupervised nighttime driving (Level 2 License), and a full-privilege driver's license (Level 3 License) issued after a teen driver has successfully completed all previous instruction and driving requirements.
GDL license levels 1 and 2 have certain restrictions to limit teens' driving exposure to high-risk situations and help protect them while they are learning to drive.
The GDL Timeline shows how graduated driver licensing and driver education are intertwined. Michigan's Graduated Driver Licensing: A Guide for Parents contains valuable information on graduated driver licensing, driver education, coaching tips for parents and more. Parents and teens are encouraged to read this publication.