Skip to main content

Traffic Laws FAQs

Disclaimer: This Frequently Asked Questions page is provided solely as a means of providing basic answers to questions about the Michigan Vehicle Code and is not designed or intended to provide a basis to contest a citation for a violation of the code. The positions stated are only those of the Michigan Department of State Police and are not binding on any other law enforcement agency or any Court. If our position is supported by case law then it will be enumerated within the answer provided.

Rules of the Road

Tinted Windows

Equipment & Lighting



Speed/Speed Limits

Motorcycles/Mopeds/Gopeds/Electric Skateboards/Electric Vehicles

Safety Belts & Child Restraints

Traffic Crashes & Reports

Rules of the Road

Question: How do I treat a dark traffic signal at an intersection?

Answer: When a signal at an intersection loses power and there are no other traffic control devices (e.g., stop sign, yield sign, temporary signal, temporary sign) or police officers present at that intersection to provide direction, the intersection will be treated as a four way stop. 

MCL 257.649 requires a driver approaching an intersection with a traffic control signal that does not clearly indicate the right of way or is malfunctioning to treat the intersection as a four-way stop by doing the following: 

  • Stop at a clearly marked stop line, or, if there is no clearly marked stop line, stop before entering the crosswalk on the near side of the intersection, or, if there is no crosswalk, stop before entering the intersection. 
  • Yield the right of way to all vehicles in the intersection or approaching on an intersecting road, if those vehicles create an immediate hazard when the driver is moving across or within the intersection. 
  • Exercise ordinary care while proceeding through the intersection. 

The “four-way stop” rules do not apply to the following:

  • An intersection that is controlled by a traffic control signal that is flashing yellow unless certain events occur, including, but not limited to, activation by an emergency vehicle.
  • A traffic control signal that is located in a school zone and is flashing yellow only during prescribed periods of time. 

Question: I recently encountered a new traffic light with 4 different signals including flashing arrows in red, yellow, and green.  What am I supposed to do when the light is flashing a yellow arrow?

Answer: The Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) has recently begun replacing the old flashing red signals for left turn lanes at intersections with a new style of signal that incorporates four lights. This is what MDOT has to say about the new signals. "Those lights are a flashing yellow arrow which permits a left turn when oncoming traffic is clear (oncoming traffic has a green light),steady green arrow allows you to turn left, a steady yellow arrow warns that the left-turn signal is about to turn red and you should prepare to stop, and a steady red arrow which requires you to stop. The steady red arrow will be followed by a flashing yellow arrow on the next cycle."

Question: My husband just got a ticket for running a yellow light. How is that possible? I thought as long as you didn't speed up, you could go through a yellow.

Answer:  MCL 257.612 states in part, " ...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 in safety, a vehicle may be driven cautiously through the intersection."

The bottom line is, unless it is dangerous to stop, you must stop when the light turns yellow.  The only exception is when you are preparing to make a left turn and you are already within the intersection. You can complete your left turn after oncoming traffic has stopped, even if the light turns red.

Question: Can I have open alcohol in a trailer that is being pulled on the road?

Answer:  In most instances transporting or possession of open intoxicants in a vehicle is not permitted.  MCL 257.624a states in part, "a person who is an operator or occupant shall not transport or possess alcoholic liquor in a container that is open or uncapped or upon which the seal is broken within the passenger compartment of a vehicle upon a highway, or within the passenger compartment of a moving vehicle in any place open to the general public or generally accessible to motor vehicles, including an area designated for the parking of vehicles..." There are limited exceptions in cases where the transportation of an open or uncapped alcoholic liquor in the passenger compartment of a vehicle are permitted. They include times when the vehicle does not have a trunk or separate area from the passenger compartment, and the container is in a locked glove compartment, behind the last upright seat, or in an area not normally occupied by the operator. There are additional exceptions in the case of a chartered vehicle such as a limousine or chartered bus.

Question: When are turn signals required to be used and does this include changing lanes?

Answer:  MCL 257.648 states in part, "The driver...before stopping or turning from a direct line, shall first see that the stopping or turning can be made in safety and shall give a signal as required...".  Common sense and state law agree that whenever you are turning, a signal is required, however, much debate has occurred over whether that language required the use of turn signals when simply changing lanes.

The Michigan Court of Appeals has finally clarified the language in MCL 257.648 requiring the use of a signal when changing lanes, or "turning from a direct line."  Their decision--published, and therefore binding on lower courts--states in summary "...a reasonable person of ordinary intelligence is not required to speculate about the phrase's meaning, and MCL 257.648 provides fair notice of what conduct is proscribed. We hold that MCL 257.648 requires drivers to use a turn signal when changing lanes on a highway and is not unconstitutionally vague."

Question: Can I turn left on a red light?

Answer:  MCL 257.612 (1)(c)(ii) states in part, "Vehicular traffic facing a steady red signal, after stopping before entering the crosswalk on the near side of the intersection or at a limit line when marked or, if there is no crosswalk or limit line, before entering the intersection, may make…a left turn from a 1-way or 2-way street into a 1-way roadway carrying traffic in the direction of the left turn unless prohibited by sign, signal, marking, light, or other traffic control device.

The same rules apply to turning right on a steady red signal. Unless prohibited, a right turn on a steady red signal may be made from a 1-way or 2-way street onto a 2-way street or a 1-way street carrying traffic in the direction of the right turn. 

Question: When merging onto a freeway who has the right-of-way?

Answer:  MCL 257.649(7) governs this question.  A driver entering a roadway from a roadway that is intended for and constructed as a merging roadway, and is plainly marked at the intersection with the appropriate merge signs, shall yield the right-of-way to traffic upon the roadway that is so close as to constitute an immediate hazard and shall adjust their speed to enable them to merge safely with through traffic.  Simply put, a driver merging onto a freeway must yield to traffic upon the freeway. It must be noted that traffic on the freeway cannot intentionally block a driver from merging by either speeding up or slowing down.

Question: I have a question regarding a turn around on a road or "Michigan left".  I know you can turn left onto the one way at a turn around, but is it illegal to go straight thru to a driveway across one way traffic?

Answer: Many people seem to be confused when it comes to what has been termed a "Michigan Left".  The following two graphics depict similar intersection and show the proper and improper use of a turnaround.

PROPER use of a turnaround or "Michigan Left":

The driver is traveling east on street A and wants to make a left turn to the north onto street B but there are no left turns allowed at the intersection. Traveling through the intersection and using the turnaround, the driver approaches the steady red light and makes a left on red when traffic permits. The driver then proceeds west on street A and makes a right turn to the north onto Street B.

IMPROPER left turn on red:

The driver is eastbound on street A and wants to turn left onto street C. When the driver enters the turnaround and stops at the steady red signal they cannot proceed straight through (north) onto Street C until the signal turns green.

Question: Are U-turns legal in Michigan?

Answer: Under state law and in the absence of a traffic control device prohibiting same, the maneuver may be completed as long as it can be done in safety, is not careless or reckless, and gives way to other traffic that have the right-of-way. This is outside of a city, village, or township that has adopted the Uniform Traffic Code.

Within the boundaries of any city, village, or township, that has adopted the Uniform Traffic Code, rule 434 states...

"R 28.1434 Rule 434. Limitations on turning around; violation as civil infraction.
(1) The driver of any vehicle shall not turn the vehicle so as to proceed in the opposite direction on any
street in a business district and shall not, on any other street, so turn a vehicle unless the movement can
be made in safety and without interfering with other traffic.
(2) A person who violates this rule is responsible for a civil infraction."

Under the UTC the requirement of whether or not there must be a sign posted prohibiting U-turns is debatable. Some say yes and some say no. The final determination will be up to the prosecutor and ultimately the individual court to decide.

Question: How far can you drive in a center turn lane?

Answer:  That depends. When preparing for a left turn a driver can travel a "reasonable" distance in the center turn lane.

It is unlawful to use the center left turn lane for a right turn or as a merge lane when entering the roadway.

Question: Is it against the law to drive in the left lane when not passing another vehicle?

Answer:  Here is what MCL 257.634 has to say about lane driving.

If the road has 2 or more lanes in one direction, vehicles shall be driven in the extreme right-hand lane.  If all lanes are occupied by vehicles moving in substantially continuous lanes of traffic, then a driver can use any lane available.  A driver may also use the left lane for a reasonable distance when preparing for a left turn.

On a freeway having 3 or more lanes, a driver may use any lane lawfully available.

MCL 257.642 gives further direction and states in part,  "…Upon a roadway with 4 or more lanes which provides for 2-way movement of traffic, a vehicle shall be driven within the extreme right-hand lane except when overtaking and passing, but shall not cross the center line of the roadway except where making a left turn.

Question: Can a person ride in the back of a pickup truck?

Answer: It is unlawful for any person under the age of 18 to ride in the open bed of a pickup at a speed greater than 15 miles per hour on a public roadway.  MCL 257.682b covers this in detail.

Question:  I live on a private road. Neighbors installed a stop sign and said the State Police can enforce it. What does the law say?

Answer:  Provisions of the Michigan Vehicle Code (MVC) relating to the operation of vehicles generally apply to publicly maintained roads open for public vehicular travel except where a different place is specifically referred to in a given section. See MCL 257.601. While MCL 257.601a authorizes an owner of a private road that is open to the general public to contract with a county, city, or village to enforce certain provisions of the MVC on that private road, we are unaware of the existence of any such contract in this instance in the location you described. You may wish to contact local officials to see if any such agreement exists. 

Additionally, while the information may be somewhat dated, Michigan Attorney General Opinion No. 7138, dated September 23, 2003, provides a good overview of enforcement of traffic laws on private roads. However, even if a particular infraction is enforceable on a private road, you should know that a police officer may only take direct enforcement action and issue a civil infraction citation if he or she observes the violation as it happens. Nevertheless, any questions regarding potential enforcement are best directed to local law enforcement officials.


Tinted Windows

Question: Can I have tinted windows on my vehicle?

Answer: The law that covers window applications is MCL 257.709. The use of tinting is limited to the rear side windows, the rear window if the vehicle has outside mirrors on both sides, and the top 4 inches of the front side windows. There is a limited exception for medical necessity with a doctor's prescription, which allows for tinting to be applied to the front side windows as well. Michigan does not have a specification for the darkness of the window application, but does prohibit applications with a solar reflectivity greater than 35%.

Question: If I have a signed letter by my doctor indicating a medical necessity for tinted windows can another person drive my vehicle if the windows are tinted?

Answer: Yes, provided the special window treatment or application has been determined by a physician or optometrist to be necessary for the protection of a person who is light sensitive or photosensitive, and the owner or operator of a motor vehicle is in possession of a letter signed by a physician or optometrist indicating that the special window treatment or application is a medical necessity as required by MCL 257.709(3)(e). However, the special window treatment or application shall not interfere with or obstruct the driver's clear vision of the highway or an intersecting highway.

Equipment & Lighting

Question: Can I install neon lighting within the interior of my vehicle?

Answer: The problem with placing neon lighting inside a vehicle is that the vehicle code is very specific about the color of lamps allowed on a vehicle and what color can be seen from what direction.  For instance, the only color legally allowed to be displayed to the front of a vehicle is white or amber.  The only color allowed to be displayed to the rear is red or amber.  To the sides, front - amber or white, rear - amber or red.  No other colors are allowed and if any permitted color lamp is visible from any direction that is not allowed then it cannot be equipped that way.  If the lighting causes a visual impairment for the driver or is potentially distracting then such lighting is unlawful.  Finally, like exterior neon lighting, there is no provision within the Michigan Vehicle Code that allows the use of interior neon lighting.  Ultimately it will be a matter for the prosecutor and courts to decide.

Question: Are neon license plate frames legal?

Answer:  You may equip your vehicle with a license plate frame that contains neon lights however they must be covered and unlit while on the roadway or within the public right-of way. In addition, the frame cannot obstruct any of the registration information on the plate or tabs.

Question: Can I have neon underbody lighting on my vehicle?

Answer: MCL 257.698(4) prohibits equipping a vehicle with any lighting that is not expressly required or permitted by Chapter 6, unless both covered and unlit. Neon underbody lighting is neither expressly required nor permitted. If equipped, the lights must be unlit and covered while on a highway, which includes all public roads and the adjacent rights-of-way.

Question: I am considering equipping my vehicle with neon valve stem lights. Are they legal?

Answer:  If installed on a vehicle, the lights must be both covered and unlit while on a highway (any public road, including the right-of-way). This prohibition includes, but is not limited to: windshield wiper lights, tire valve stem lights, overhead/roll bar lights, underbody lights, and interior after-market lighting if visible from outside of the vehicle.

Question: Are smoked-out headlight covers legal?

Answer:  The Michigan Vehicle Code requires head lamps to emit a white light, with "high-beams" of intensity to reveal persons and vehicles at a distance of at least 350 feet ahead, and low-beams of intensity to reveal persons and vehicles at a distance of at least 100 feet ahead. Since smoked headlamp covers change the color of light, and/or decrease their intensity below the requirements, they should not be used when headlamps are required to be on. However, smoked headlamp covers may be used when headlamps are not on, and not required.

Question: Is having smoked taillight/brake covers legal in Michigan? How about the smoked ones with slashes or vents in them showing a small part of the original red lens?

Answer: MCL 257.686   requires a tail lamp to emit a red light plainly visible for at least 500 feet to the rear of the vehicle. MCL 257.697  requires stop lamps to emit a red or amber light and be capable of being seen and distinguished from other lamps for a distance of 100 feet, including during normal daylight. If the cover you apply prohibits the lamp from meeting these requirements, then it is unlawful.

Question: I own a retired Police Cruiser and am looking into adding on some extra equipment (Spotlights, etc.). Before I do so I would like to know what is legal (both on and off the road) here in Michigan?
Answer:  If your intention is to equip this vehicle to represent an authorized emergency vehicle you cannot operate that vehicle on the roadway unless you are a peace officer. The use and/or possession of a flashing, rotating, or oscillating light of any color would be prohibited.

Should you decide to operate a vehicle on the roadway equipped as a police vehicle you would be subject to arrest for the criminal act of "False Representation as a Peace Officer".

Question: Would it be legal to install a (police type) siren on my car for purposes of an auto alarm?

Answer: MCL 257.706 covers sirens on vehicles. Under the circumstances you describe the installation and use of a siren would be illegal.

Question:  What are the state laws on dash cameras?

Answer:  MCL 257.709(1)(c) prohibits an object that obstructs the vision of the driver of the vehicle, except as authorized by law.  Assuming the driver of a vehicle is otherwise able to safely operate the vehicle, the added equipment (“dash camera”) does not interfere with or obstruct the driver's clear vision of the highway or an intersecting highway, and to the extent the equipment might prevent the clear view of the highway behind the vehicle, the vehicle is equipped with 2 rearview mirrors (1 on each side, adjusted so that the operator has a clear view of the highway behind the vehicle), I am unaware of a specific provision of the MVC that could be cited as a violation.

Question: I would just like to know if there is any sound level or DB law here in Michigan for automotive exhausts, specifically aftermarket?

Answer: MCL 257.707c provides the decibel levels at which the noise is considered excessive, while MCL 257.707e addresses the procedure for conducting a test. It is important to note that while these objective levels are provided, a vehicle below these levels may still be in violation. MCL 257.707b requires an exhaust system to be maintained in good working order to prevent excessive or unusual noise, which can be subjective. MCL 257.707 requires that an exhaust system be equipped with a muffler, and a resonator and tailpipe, if originally equipped. This precludes the modification of an exhaust system beyond the replacement of worn-out parts.

Question: I am wondering what vehicle equipment requirements must be followed for a four-wheeled motorcycle. Or what the law is on making a 4-wheeler, able to use on public roads.

Answer: MCL 257.31 defines a motorcycle as "every motor vehicle having a saddle or seat for the use of the rider and designed to travel on not more than 3 wheels in contact with the ground but excluding a tractor." Therefore, a four-wheel vehicle is not a motorcycle under Michigan law regardless of the vehicle configuration. The type of vehicle that you are describing would probably fall in the category of "ORV," defined in MCL 324.81101.

As noted on the SOS website, certain off-road vehicles (ORVs), all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) and off-road dune buggies can be titled as an assembled vehicle for on-road use.

If this type of ORV is not currently titled, registered and insured for on-road use, it may only be operated on a highway under very limited circumstances if it meets the definition of an ORV as provided in MCL 324.81101 of the Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act.  The limited circumstances, such as crossing a street or highway at a right angle for the purpose of getting from one area to another, can be found in MCL 324.81122.  

Additionally, MCL 324.81131 authorizes local municipalities to pass an ordinance allowing the operation of ORV’s on streets within the municipality and sets forth the requirements and restrictions in doing so.

Question: Are tire chains legal in Michigan?

Answer: MCL 257.710 of the Michigan Vehicle Code covers the use of tire chains, and states that a person may "use a tire chain of reasonable proportion upon a vehicle when required for safety because of snow, ice, or other condition tending to cause a vehicle to skid." If used, the chain must not come in contact with the surface of the roadway.

Question: Are studded tires legal in Michigan?

Answer: In practical terms, no.   

MCL 257.710 allows for the use of studded tires if they meet the specifications listed in subparts (c), (d), and (e).  The part that specifically deals with studded tires is subpart (d) which states; "The department of state highways and transportation shall promulgate rules establishing acceptable standards to permit the use of a tire with studs or other traction devices to be used on a street or highway after April 1, 1975. The rules shall make separate provision for the extreme winter snow and ice conditions of the Upper Peninsula and the Northern Lower Peninsula. The rules shall include a restriction on the amount and dimension of protrusions that may be allowed on a tire, the type of material that may be used in a stud, traction device, or tire, and the amount of road wear that a tire with studs or other traction devices may cause on a street or highway."

Administrative Rules 247.171 through 247.175 govern studded tires and set the criteria for their use.

These rules state two conditions that must be met for the use of studded tires. Note: to date no manufacturer of tire studs has supplied information to the Michigan Department of Transportation that their product meets or exceeds the required pavement wear specifications.

First, they can only be used between November 15 and April 1 of the succeeding year except in the Upper Peninsula and the Northern Lower Peninsula, where, because of extreme winter snow and ice conditions, they may be used between October 1 and May 1 of the succeeding year.  Northern Lower Peninsula is defined as those counties whose southern boundaries are as far or farther north than the southern boundary of Missaukee County. 

Second, studs or other traction devices shall not be used unless they wear either concrete or asphalt pavements, typical of those in this state, at a rate not to exceed 25% of the reference standard studded tire.

Question: Are radar jammers illegal in Michigan?

Answer: RADAR jammers, both active and passive, are illegal under federal law in all 50 states (see excerpt from FCC news release).

FCC FINDS MARKETING OF ROCKY MOUNTAIN RADAR'S SPIRIT II RADAR JAMMER TO BE IN VIOLATION OF ITS RULES. Ruled that a radar jamming device manufactured by Rocky Mountain Radar that interferes with police radar signals is illegal; found that interference from these devices creates a threat to public safety. Report No: CI 97-14. by MO&O. Action by: Commission. Adopted: December 4, 1997. (FCC No. 97-404) News Media Contact: David Fiske 202-418-0500. CIB Contact: Ana J. Curtis at 202-418-1160.

Question: Is the use of a radar detector in a private vehicle legal in the State of Michigan?

Answer: Radar detectors are legal for use in passenger vehicles in the state of Michigan.

Cell Phones

Question: I was told that you could dial *677 from your cell phone and it would connect you directly to the state police. Is this true?

Answer: This internet myth is based partially in reality, but does not apply to Michigan. In Michigan, as well as most states, the number to contact for an emergency is 911. Some states have a non-emergency number as well, with *677 being the variant that works in Ontario (677=OPP on the telephone keypad).

Question: Is it against the law to talk on a cell phone while driving in Michigan?

Answer: MCL 257.602b prohibits texting while driving at any age, while MCL 257.602c (Kelsey’s Law), is a different law aimed at discouraging verbal cell phone communication in graduated level drivers less than 18 years old.  Additionally, a driver who becomes distracted by using a cell phone and commits a traffic violation could be charged with careless driving, or with the specific violation, such as improper lane use, if they are drifting in and out of their lane.

Some municipalities have recently enacted local ordinances that prohibit using a cellular phone while driving within their respective jurisdiction.  Any municipality that establishes such an ordinance should post notification at their jurisdictional boundaries to alert motorists.

Speed/Speed Limits

Question: Please provide me with the state law, act or policy that outlines the speed limits on unmarked rural roads. It is our understanding that the speed limit on an unmarked rural dirt road is 45 mph and 55 mph on an unmarked rural paved road.

Answer: MCL 257.628 of the Michigan Vehicle Code sets the statewide maximum speed limit on all unposted highways at 55 mph. Gravel roads are included in this. Gravel roads are currently excluded from the process of lowering posted speeds through a Traffic Control Order due to the changing conditions of these roads. The Basic Speed Law, MCL 257.627, adequately covers these changing conditions by requiring drivers to "drive at a careful and prudent speed not greater than nor less than is reasonable and proper, having due regard to the traffic, surface, and width of the highway and of any other condition then existing."

Question: Under what conditions may a police officer exceed the posted speed limit?

Answer: MCL 257.632 of the Michigan Vehicle Code states that an officer may exceed the speed limit "when traveling in emergencies or in the chase or apprehension of violators of the law or of persons charged with or suspected of a violation..."

Motorcycles/Mopeds/Electric Skateboards

Question: I would like to request a list of helmets that have been approved by the Department of State Police.

Answer: Motorcycle helmets that meet the federal standards of 49 C.F.R. are considered approved in Michigan under administrative rule R 28.951. The Michigan Department of State Police does not maintain a list of those helmets. Motorcycle helmets sold through a reputable dealer will normally be in compliance. Look for indications of compliance on the box and in the paperwork supplied with the helmet, in addition to a Department of Transportation (DOT) sticker affixed to the helmet.

Please be aware that helmets purchased from individuals, at swap meets and shows, or through non-reputable dealers may not be in compliance with federal standards. Additionally, watch for disclaimers on the box indicating that a helmet is novelty only, and not for street use.

Question: Is there a specific age, or weight that children can legally ride as a passenger on a motorcycle?

Answer: There is no minimum age for a child to ride on a motorcycle, subject to one exception based on size rather than age. MCL 257.658a states "A passenger shall not ride on a motorcycle unless his or her feet can rest on the assigned footrests or pegs except...due to a permanent physical disability."

Question: I recently bought a 150cc scooter, is it considered a motorcycle?

Answer: If what you are describing is a motorcycle as defined in MCL 257.31, then MCL 257.312a generally requires a person to procure a motorcycle indorsement on his or her operators or chauffeurs license before operating on a public street or highway. 

If not a motorcycle, and unless it meets the definition of an “electric personal assistive mobility device,” “power driven mobility device,“ electric carriage,” “commercial quadricycle,” “electric bicycle,” or “electric skateboard” under the Michigan Vehicle Code (MVC), it would seemingly be considered both a “vehicle” and “motor vehicle.”  Additionally, such device might also fit the definition of a “moped” as defined under MCL 257.32b, which provides as follows:

  1. "Moped" means a 2- or 3-wheeled vehicle to which both of the following apply:
    • It is equipped with a motor that does not exceed 100 cubic centimeters piston displacement and cannot propel the vehicle at a speed greater than 30 miles per hour on a level surface.
    • Its power drive system does not require the operator to shift gears.
  2. Moped does not include an electric bicycle.

If the “scooter” is a vehicle by definition, and is equipped with a motor that does not exceed the maximum piston displacement (100cc), cannot propel the vehicle at a speed greater than 30 mph, and does not require the operator to shift gears, it would seemingly fall within the definition of a “moped” under the MVC.  If a moped, it would necessarily be subject to those laws in the MVC that pertain to mopeds including required equipment and licensing.  

If the “scooter” meets the definition of a “electric personal assistive mobility device,” “power driven mobility device,“ electric carriage,” “commercial quadricycle,” “electric bicycle,” or “electric skateboard” under the Michigan Vehicle Code (MVC), MCL 257.660 would regulate the area in which each respective piece of equipment may be operated. The ability to operate on a roadway, bicycle path, or sidewalk would necessarily depend of which piece of equipment you had by definition.

The definitions of “motorcycle” and “moped” are significant in the Vehicle Code (MCL Chapter 257) because vehicles that meet these definitions are subject to registration, having a license plate, laws regarding renting, motorcycle endorsements, specification requirements or restrictions regarding equipment such as head lamps, handlebars, noise, etc.

Question: We recently got “Bird” scooters (electric skateboards) in our town. Are they considered a motor vehicle? Can I be arrested for drunk driving on an electric skateboard?

Answer: Public Act 204 of 2018 amended the Michigan Vehicle Code (MVC) by adding MCL 257.13f to define “electric skateboard” as a wheeled device with a floorboard to stand on that is not more than 60 inches long and 18 inches wide and is designed for only one person at a time. To be an electric skateboard, the device must have an electrical propulsion system that does not exceed 2,500 watts and a maximum speed on a paved level surface that does not exceed 25 mph. An electric skateboard may be designed to be powered by human propulsion, in addition to the electric propulsion system.

An electric skateboard is exempted from the definition of “motor vehicle” under MCL 257.33, but a person riding an electric skateboard “has all of the rights and is subject to all of the duties applicable to the driver of a vehicle.” MCL 257.657.  Questions regarding an arrest for a violation of MCL 257.625 (Operating While Intoxicated) on an electric skateboard/horse, should generally be referred to your city attorney or local prosecutor.

Question: My husband saw on the news last night that golf carts were allowed on the county roads in the state of Michigan. Is this true?

Answer: MCL 257.657a authorizes a village or city of fewer than 30,000 people to allow the operation of golf carts on the streets of that village or city by resolution, and sets forth the requirements and restrictions in doing so.  Similarly, a township of fewer than 30,000 people is also authorized to allow this under certain circumstances unless disapproved by the county board of commissioners.

Previously, it was possible to equip, register and insure your golf cart to be road legal as a low speed vehicle.  However, the Michigan Department of State (MDOS) has announced that it will no longer process assembled vehicle title applications for vehicles manufactured as a golf cart and has requested law enforcement personnel to refuse or deny any request to complete a TR-54 Vehicle Number and On-Road Equipment Inspection for a golf cart.  Additional information may be found on the MDOS website.

Golf carts that are currently titled and registered for on-road use will retain its current title and registration. 

If the golf cart is not currently titled, registered, and insured for on-road use, and is not within one of the cities, villages or townships that has allowed on road use, it may only be operated on a highway under very limited circumstances if it meets the definition of an ORV as provided in MCL 324.81101 of the Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act.  The limited circumstances, such as crossing a street or highway at a right angle for the purpose of getting from one area to another, can be found in MCL 324.81122.  Additionally, MCL 324.81131 authorizes local municipalities to pass an ordinance allowing the operation of ORV’s on streets within the municipality and sets forth the requirements and restrictions in doing so.

Question:  I have a Polaris Ranger and want to know if I can operate it on the road? 

Answer: As noted on the SOS website, certain off-road vehicles (ORVs), all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) and off-road dune buggies can be titled as an assembled vehicle for on-road use. 

If this type of ORV is not currently titled, registered and insured for on-road use, it may only be operated on a highway under very limited circumstances if it meets the definition of an ORV as provided in MCL 324.81101 of the Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act.  The limited circumstances, such as crossing a street or highway at a right angle for the purpose of getting from one area to another, can be found in MCL 324.81122.

Additionally, MCL 324.81131 authorizes local municipalities to pass an ordinance allowing the operation of ORV’s on streets within the municipality and sets forth the requirements and restrictions in doing so.

Question: Where can I legally ride a goped?

Answer: A goped, while not specifically defined in the Michigan Vehicle Code, does fall under the definition of a moped  (MCL.257.32b) . Mopeds are required to have certain equipment such as; a headlight, brake light, seat, horn, muffler, and brakes on each wheel, in order to be legally operated on the roadway. In addition, the operator of a moped must be at least 15 years of age, have a moped license or an operator/chauffeur license, and the vehicle must be registered with the Department of State and display a valid registration plate. Finally, a person operating a moped must wear an approved crash helmet if they are under 19 years of age.

Because gopeds are not equipped with the required equipment they cannot be legally driven on the roadway. Also, by definition they are a motor vehicle and therefore cannot be driven on a sidewalk constructed for use by pedestrians.

Question: Can someone tell me what the laws in Michigan are for riding pocket bikes?

Answer: If the "pocket bike" has an engine displacement of 50cc's or less, produces 2.0 brake horsepower or less, is capable of a top speed of no more than 30 mph, and the operator is not required/allowed to shift gears, then it may be legally classified as a moped. The document titled "Moped Requirements" lists the operational and equipment requirements for such motor vehicles. Most "pocket bikes" will not meet those requirements and therefore will not be street legal.

If the "pocket bike" has an engine displacement greater than 50cc's then it is classified as a motorcycle and must meet the requirements applicable to that type of vehicle.  Again, most "pocket bikes" will not meet these requirements.


Safety Belts & Child Restraints

Question: I heard that Michigan changed its seat belt law and now requires booster seats. Is that true?

Answer: Michigan amended it's safety belt law effective April 5, 2017. A synopsis of the amended MCL 257.710e law follows.

  • The law does not apply to:
    • A motor vehicle manufactured before January 1, 1965
    • A bus
    • A motorcycle
    • A moped
    • A person in possession of written verification from a physician that stipulates that they are unable to wear a safety belt for physical or medical reasons
    • A motor vehicle not required to be equipped with safety belts under federal law
    • A commercial or US postal service vehicle that makes frequent stops for the purpose of pickup and delivery of goods or services
    • A motor vehicle operated by a rural carrier of the US postal service while serving a rural postal route
    • A passenger of a school bus
    • Other than above, each operator and front seat passenger of a motor vehicle operated on a street or highway in this state shall wear a properly adjusted and fastened safety belt except the following:
    • A child less than 4 years of age shall be protected as required under MCL 257.710d, the child restraint law
    • A child 4 years of age or older, but less than 8 years of age, and who is less than 4 feet 9 inches in height, shall be properly secured in a child restraint system (Booster Seat) in accordance with the child restraint manufacturer's and vehicle manufacturer's instructions, and the standards prescribed in 49 CFR 517.213
    • If there are more passengers than safety belts available for use, and all safety belts in the motor vehicle are being utilized in compliance with this section, the operator of the motor vehicle is in compliance with this section
    • A child 4 years of age or older but less than 16 years of age, and who is 4 feet 9 inches in height or greater,  shall be secured in a properly adjusted and fastened safety belt

Question: I own a car built in 1957 which did not come from the factory with seatbelts.  Can I legally drive this vehicle on the road and take my children with me without seatbelts?

Answer: Yes. MCL 257.710b states in part that a private passenger vehicle manufactured after January 1, 1965 must be equipped with safety belts for the driver and one other front seat passenger. MCL 257.710d states in part that child restraint requirements do not apply to motor vehicles not required to be equipped with safety belts under federal law or regulation.

Question: Where would I find information about what the actual law is regarding the use of seatbelts?

Answer: Basically, Michigan's law states that all front seat passengers must wear a properly fastened safety belt, and all rear seat passengers from the ages of 4 through 15 must wear a properly fastened safety belt (we also encourage people 16 and over to buckle up in the rear seat).

If the motor vehicle is transporting more children than there are safety belts available for use, all safety belts available in the motor vehicle are being utilized in compliance with this section, and the operator and all front seat passengers comply with the section, the operator of a motor vehicle transporting a child 8 years of age or older but less than 16 years of age for which there is not an available safety belt is in compliance with this subsection if that child is seated in other than the front seat of the motor vehicle. However, if that motor vehicle is a pickup truck without an extended cab or jump seats, and all safety belts in the front seat are being used, the operator may transport the child in the front seat without a safety belt.

Children up to the age of 4 must be properly restrained in a child safety seat no matter where they are seated in the vehicle.

There are a few exemptions to both of these laws, but we always encourage people to properly fasten their safety belt at all times while traveling in a vehicle. Listed below are the links for the full text of Michigan's safety belt and child restraint laws:

Michigan's safety belt law

Michigan's child restraint law 

Question: I have tried to find information on infant and child car seat laws. Car seats come with recommendations but never list the law. My friends and I want to make sure our children are restrained properly and according to the law but everywhere I turn I can find no information on what those laws are. How long do children have to be in "car seats" versus just the seat of the car for instance?

Answer: Michigan's child restraint law states that every child under the age of 4 years must be properly restrained in a child restraint seat no matter where they are seated in the vehicle.

The law does not cover where the children should ride but, regardless of what the law states, we know that there are safer ways to transport children in a motor vehicle. Statistics consistently show that the rear seat is the safest place for all children 12 and under.

Federal standards require child seat manufacturers or automotive manufacturers in the case of built-in child seats, to provide instructions and label these seats with warnings for incorrect placement.  To comply with state law you MUST follow the manufacturer's instructions.

Question: When there is an air bag in the front passenger side, are children 12 and under supposed to be in the back seat?

Answer: Michigan's child restraint law does not prohibit children of any age riding in the front with an air bag; however, research has proven that any small person (even an adult) can be seriously injured or even killed by the force of an air bag.

More information available from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

Question: Is it legal to ride in a pickup camper secured to the bed of my pickup or in a tow behind camper?

Answer: Michigan Law does not prohibit this type of action; however, in accordance with MCL 257.710e, children under the age of 16 would be prohibited from doing so if there were passenger seats available in the pickup or vehicle towing the camper.  The Michigan State Police does not endorse this type of action because a camper, whether it is the type secured in a pickup bed or a trailer type is not designed and manufactured for such use.  The operator and/or registered owner could be held liable both criminally or civilly if a passenger is injured or killed while riding in the camper.

Traffic Crashes & Reports

Beginning in July 2005, the State of Michigan launched a new website dedicated to online purchasing of traffic crash reports. Interested parties may be able to purchase a copy of a traffic crash report taken by any Michigan law enforcement agency.

Traffic Crash Purchasing System

Question:  I was involved in a traffic crash in the past and need a copy of the report. Where can I obtain one?

Answer:  Interested parties such as individuals involved in the crash and/or their attorney, and insurance companies should contact the Traffic Crash Purchasing System(TCPS) via the internet at the aforementioned link.  If unable to do so you can contact the Michigan State Police Post that responded to the crash.  A listing of state police posts is follows.

State Police Posts

Each post retains traffic crash reports for the current year plus two years. If the crash occurred prior to that you must request a copy of the report from the Criminal Justice Information Center using a Freedom of Information Request form.

In addition, if you are not an interested party as described above, you must complete a Freedom of Information Request to obtain a specific traffic crash report.

Complete the form with as much information as possible and mail to the address listed on the form.

FOI Request

If another agency other than the Michigan State Police responded and completed a crash report, you will need to contact that agency directly or utilize the TCPS.