Michigan Driving Regulations
Required Documents - 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.
Drinking and 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 Belts/Restraints - Michigan law requires all drivers and front-seat passengers to buckle up. Children under one year of age must be secured in an approved child car seat wherever they are seated in the vehicle. From one to four years, children riding in the front seat must be in a child car seat, or in a child car seat or buckled up when riding in the back seat. Children from 4 through 16 must wear a seat belt wherever they are seated in the car. Violations of any seat belt laws involving children result in the driver receiving a citation; those over 16 not wearing seat belts are individually cited.
Helmet Law - Michigan requires drivers and passengers of motorcycles, mopeds and similar vehicles to wear helmets at all times that the vehicle is in motion.
Handicapper Parking Law - Parking is restricted in spaces reserved for handicapped persons to those vehicles displaying a handicapper parking permit or plate. For free parking at a metered or public parking lot a motorist must display a handicapped person free parking sticker. Free parking status is provided only with a doctor's certification to the Michigan Secretary of State, and allows parking privileges only when the handicapper is being transported. There is no charge for a sticker denoting free parking status.
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 License Level 2 Restrictions
On March 30, 2011 new restrictions went into effect to the Level 2 graduated driver’s license. The new law will amend the Michigan Vehicle Code in the following ways:
Both of these restrictions remain for the duration of the Level 2 graduated driver's license. The sanctions for violating these new provisions are: