Traffic Tickets in Michigan
Getting a traffic ticket is one of those rites of passage that everyone would really rather forget about than admit to. But whether it's for speeding, following to closely, failure to come to a complete stop at a stop sign, or failure to use turn signals, it's one of the least forgettable milestones in life.
In Michigan, most traffic stops have points associated with them. Speeding? A quick 2 points. Disobeying a traffic signal or stop sign? There's 3. How about failure to yield for emergency vehicles? You're looking at 4 points. You can be hit for 6 points if you leave the scene of an accident or drive recklessly.
In Michigan, traffic violations are handled in District Court, of which there are many across the state. Most tickets will be resolved in a District Court's Traffic Division; misdemeanor and felony cases (like drunk driving) will be handled in the Criminal Division. For Criminal Division cases, you'll need an attorney.
Now, getting a simple ticket doesn't sound too bad, right? After all, the fine for going 10 mph over the speed limit is less than a nice dinner at a restaurant. And 2 points? Big whoop.
But talk to your insurance agent and you may wish you'd been a little nicer to the officer who pulled you over.
Insurance companies charge you premiums based on how likely you are to need to make a claim. They look at your driving record (uh-oh) to get an idea of how safe a driver you've been in the past. A clean record can put you into its "preferred" category and possibly save you a bunch of money.
If you've got a little lead in that right foot, however, you're not looked at so warmly. After all, in the eyes of an insurance actuary you're more likely to drive recklessly than someone who always obeys the law. So think about that the next time you are guilty of failure to stop at a stop sign. In fact, it's probably a good idea to be aware of all the stop sign rules.
What's that mean in dollars? Say the average policy in Michigan costs $1,500 a year. With a clean record, you might save about 20 percent, or $300 annually. With a speeding ticket, you lose that discount AND probably pay a little premium bump as well.
But before you go out and sell the car, remember that most companies don't increase premiums for small infractions―especially first offenses.
Want to avoid a ticket? Here are some simple ways to make yourself a more law-abiding―and safer―driver:
- Two words: SPEED LIMIT. Stay within a couple mph of the big numbers on that sign, and you'll probably never get a speeding ticket.
- Stay calm. Just because that jerk cut you off doesn't mean you need to go cut him off.
- Driver education instructors have various teaching methods to help student drivers learn to not follow too closely. Unfortunately, we all seem to forget them as soon as they get out of the car. Following too closely is a major cause of accidents. It makes the driver ahead of you nervous, and it doesn't leave you enough time to react if the driver in front of them does something stupid. Remember, stay one second behind the driver in front of you for every 10 mph you are traveling.
- Go out after dark, turn all you car lights on, and walk around the car. Do the lights all work? Even the little one over the license plate? Replace the ones that don't for a couple of bucks, and you could save much more than the cost of a bulb―you'll be saved the hassle of getting pulled over for having a light out.
If you do end up receiving a traffic ticket, you'll often have the choice to either pay the ticket (and admit guilt) or contest the citation in court.Other Topics in This Section