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Vehicle Immobilization

Vehicle Immobilization

For some convictions, section 904d of the Michigan Vehicle Code [the Code; MCL 257.904d] requires the court to order the immobilization of the vehicle driven during the violation. The maximum length of immobilization, and whether there is a minimum length, depends on the type of conviction and whether there are prior convictions.

Court procedures may vary, but generally speaking, the offender is required to have the vehicle immobilized, and provide proof that has happened to the court. If an offender does not comply with the immobilization requirement, he or she might:

  • Be held in contempt of court.
  • Face probation violation charges.
  • Forfeit his or her vehicle.

Immobilization is required if the "defendant is the owner, co-owner, lessee, or co-lessee of the vehicle operated during the violation." [Section 904d(4)(a)]

If the defendant does not have an ownership interest in the vehicle, immobilization is permitted if the "owner, co-owner, lessee, or co-lessee knowingly allowed" the offender to operate the vehicle when the driver was drunk or drugged, or when the offender's driver license was suspended, revoked, or denied, or when the offender had never applied for a driver license. This provision applies even if the offender is not convicted. [Section 904d(4)(b)]

Secretary of State files are updated when a court notifies us that it has ordered immobilization. If a police officer stops a driver, he or she can determine through the Law Enforcement Information Network if the vehicle is subject to immobilization. If it is, the officer must impound the vehicle and notify the court. The court will then decide what to do with the vehicle. [Section 904e(7) of the Code; MCL 257.904e(7)]

Immobilization applies as follows:

All periods begin after any period of imprisonment that is ordered for the conviction.

Drunk and Drugged Driving Convictions:

  • If there are no prior convictions, the convictions identified below result in immobilization for not more than 180 days, with no minimum period.
  • If there is 1 prior conviction within 7 years, the convictions identified below result in immobilization for not less than 90 days or more than 180 days.
  • If there are 2 or more prior convictions over any period of time, the convictions identified below result in immobilization for not less than 1 year or more than 3 years.
    • Operating While Intoxicated
    • Operating While Impaired
    • Child Endangerment
    • Operating With Any Amount of a Controlled Substance in the Body
    • Operating While Intoxicated, While Impaired, or With Any Amount of a Controlled Substance in the Body causing the death of another person
    • Operating While Intoxicated, While Impaired, or With Any Amount of a Controlled Substance in the Body causing serious injury to another person

Operating without a Breath Alcohol Ignition Interlock Device [BAIID] when the device is required by the terms of a restricted license: Immobilization for not less than 90 days or more than 180 days.

  • If the person obtains a restricted license from the Secretary of State, and a BAIID is properly installed in the vehicle, the court must suspend the immobilization order that was imposed for operating without a BAIID.
  • However, the court may reinstate the immobilization imposed for operating without a BAIID if the BAIID is tampered with, circumvented, or disabled, or if the person's restricted driver license is suspended or revoked.

Reckless Driving Causing Serious Injury or Death: Immobilization for not more than 180 days, with no minimum period.

Any violation that occurs while the person's driver license is suspended, revoked, or denied

  • Operating While License Suspended, Revoked, or Denied Causing Death or Serious Injury results in immobilization for not more than 180 days, with no minimum period.

An actual conviction for driving while the person's license is suspended, revoked, or denied is not required for immobilization in the following situations:

  • If the driver has 1 prior additional suspension, revocation, or denial imposed under section 904 of the Code [MCL 257.904]: Immobilization for not more than 180 days, with no minimum period.
  • If the driver has 2 or 3 prior additional suspensions, revocations, or denials imposed under section 904 of the Code within the past 7 years: Immobilization for not less than 90 days or more than 180 days.
  • If the driver has 4 or more prior additional suspensions, revocations, or denials imposed under section 904 of the Code within the past 7 years: Immobilization for not less than 1 year or more than 3 years.

Transfer of the Vehicle, Getting Another Vehicle, and Tampering with an Immobilization Device

A violation any of the following provisions is a misdemeanor, which may be punished by imprisonment for no more than 93 days, a fine of not more than $100.00, or both.

An offender whose vehicle is immobilized may sell the vehicle during the period of immobilization. However, unless there is an appropriate court order, the vehicle may not be sold to a person who would not have to pay use tax under section 3(3)(a) of the Use Tax Act [MCL 205.93]. [Section 904e(2) of the Code; MCL 257.904e(2)].

An offender who is prohibited from driving because of vehicle immobilization cannot purchase, lease, or otherwise obtain a vehicle during the immobilization period. [Section 904e(3) of the Code]

A person cannot do any of the following if he or she knows, or should know, that a court has ordered that a vehicle be immobilized [Section 904e(4) of the Code]:

  • Remove, tamper with, or bypass the immobilization device.
  • Attempt to remove, tamper with or bypass the immobilization device.
  • Operate or attempt to operate the vehicle.


Related Documents
Vehicle Ownership Alcohol Offense Chart PDF iconVehicle Ownership Suspended License Chart PDF iconDriver License Appeal Practice Manual PDF iconImmobilization Requirements Chart PDF icon



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