Lansing Traffic Attorney

Michigan traffic violations can be relatively minor civil infractions, or they can be more serious misdemeanor charges. The penalty for a civil infraction may be a relatively small fine and a few points on your driver’s license, while a misdemeanor can result in jail time, significant fines, and suspension of your driver’s license.

Many people think when they get a traffic ticket or a misdemeanor traffic charge that there’s nothing they can do. They think it’s their word against that of the police officer who pulled them over. However, police officers sometimes are mistaken in their observations or their methods for determining whether you committed a violation can be flawed. You may in fact have a good chance at contesting the ticket or defending the misdemeanor charge with the help of an experienced Lansing traffic attorney at DeBruin Law.

Why Fight a Traffic Ticket in Michigan?

When you get a traffic citation that is a civil infraction, such as for speeding or careless driving, you have three options in Michigan:

  • Admit responsibility and pay the fine
  • Admit responsibility with explanation by appearing in court or sending a letter to a judge, and pay the fine
  • Deny responsibility and appear in court

It may be tempting to just pay the ticket and move on, but be aware that when you admit responsibility, that’s the same as pleading guilty and the ticket will go on your record. Some potential consequences of admitting responsibility may include:

  • Points on your driving record
  • Increased car insurance rates because your insurance company may deem you a higher risk to cover
  • You may lose your job or have a hard time finding a job if you do any driving as part of your employment
  • Some violations may affect your commercial driver’s license if you have one
  • If your violation also involved an auto collision, admitting responsibility for the traffic violation could be used against you as evidence of your negligence in a civil lawsuit over the accident

Because of the potential consequences of a ticket, it may be worthwhile to at least consult with an experienced Lansing traffic defense lawyer about your options. You may be hesitant about spending the money on a lawyer to fight a traffic ticket, but that may end up being more economical than facing years of increased insurance premiums, or a driver’s license suspension because you’ve accrued too many points, or losing your job because it requires driving and your employer now considers you too great a risk.

Additionally, if you are charged with a misdemeanor traffic violation such as reckless driving, you don’t have the option of simply paying the ticket. You must go through the court process, and the help of a good traffic defense lawyer could make a difference when you’re facing the possibility of jail time or suspension of your driver’s license.

The penalties for criminal traffic violations discussed on this page are the ones reflected in Michigan statutes. However, the Michigan Supreme Court recently ruled that judges don’t have to be bound by the penalties set in statutes by the Michigan State Legislature. Instead, judges have the discretion to decide “reasonable” penalties for criminal offenses. A skilled Michigan criminal defense lawyer can explain what to expect if you’re convicted of a criminal traffic offense.

Common Michigan Traffic Offenses

The Michigan Vehicle Code has an extensive list of infractions and violations for which you might receive a ticket, or even a misdemeanor charge. This is just a sampling, but some of the most common violations include:

  1. Speeding
    Speeding is a civil infraction in Michigan. The cost of a ticket varies depending on the posted speed limit and how much you exceeded the posted limit. The fines for a speeding ticket are set by individual jurisdictions and can vary depending on where you get the ticket. In the city of Lansing, the fines set by the District Court include:

    • 1 to 5 mph over the limit — $120 fine

    • 6 to 10 mph over the limit — $130 fine

    • 11 to 15 mph over the limit — $140 fine

    • 16 to 20 mph over the limit — $160 fine

    You also face anywhere from zero to 5 points on your drivers license depending on your speed, what kind of road you were driving on, and whether you got your ticket in a construction zone. You also face higher fines for speeding in a construction zone.

  2. Reckless Driving

    In Michigan, you may be charged with reckless driving when you drive in a way that demonstrates a willful and wanton disregard for other people’s safety or their property. You can be charged with reckless driving not only when driving on a street or highway, but also a parking lot or on a frozen lake or pond.

    Reckless driving is a misdemeanor crime, and possible penalties include:

    • Up to 93 days in jail

    • A fine of up to $500

    • 6 points on your driving record

    • 90-day mandatory driver’s license suspension for a first offense, and revocation for a second offense within 7 years

    • $500 drive responsibility fee per year for 2 years

  3. Careless Driving

    Careless driving is similar to reckless driving, but with a lesser degree of disregard for the safety or property of others. Rather than the higher standard of recklessness, a person charged with careless driving may be merely negligent when endangering other people or their property when driving.

    Careless driving is a civil infraction in Michigan subject to a fine and 3 points on your driving record.

  4. Driving With a Suspended License

    When your driver’s license is suspended or revoked and you’re caught driving, you can be charged with a criminal traffic offense in Michigan. Driving with a suspended or revoked license is a misdemeanor punishable on a first offense by:

    • Up to 93 days in jail

    • A fine of up to $500

    • 2 points on your driving record

    • $500 driver responsibility fee per year for 2 years

  5. Moving Violation Causing Serious Injury

    When you commit a moving violation in Michigan, and that leads to the serious bodily impairment of another person, you can be charged with a misdemeanor. The penalties for a moving violation causing serious impairment of a body function may include:

    • Up to 93 days in jail

    • A fine of up to $500

    • 6 points on your driving record

    • Suspension of your driver’s license for 1 year

    • $1,000 driver responsibility fee per year for 2 years

  6. Moving Violation Causing Death

    When you commit a moving violation that results in someone’s death, you can be charged with a misdemeanor. The possible penalties include:

    • Up to 1 year in jail

    • A fine of up to $2,000

    • 6 points on your driving record

    • Suspension of your driver’s license for 1 year

    • $1,000 driver responsibility fee per year for 2 years

  7. Leaving the Scene of an Injury Accident

    Michigan requires that drivers who know they have been involved in accidents resulting in personal injury stop at the scene and stay there until the accident is reported, or else immediately go to a police station or the nearest police officer to report the crash if staying at the scene would case harm. When you fail to stop after being involved in a crash, or fail to report the accident to police, you may be charged with a misdemeanor. The possible penalties for leaving the scene of an accident resulting in personal injury may include:

    • Up to 1 year in jail

    • A fine of up to $1,000

    • 6 points on your driving record

    • Suspension of your driver’s license for 90 days

    • $1,000 driver responsibility fee per year for 2 years

  8. Red Light or Stop Sign Violation

    When you fail to stop for a red light or a stop sign, you can be issued a ticket for a civil infraction. You’ll have to pay a fine, and you’ll accrue 3 points on your driving record.

  9. Failure to Stop for a School Bus

    Section 257.682 of the Michigan Vehicle Code requires that drivers approaching a school bus that is stopped and flashing its red lights must stop at least 20 feet away from the school bus and stay there until the bus starts moving again or the flashing lights are turned off. When you fail to stop for a school bus as required, you can be issued a ticket for a civil infraction. Civil penalties include:

    • A fine of $100 to $500

    • Payment of costs

    • Possible order to do community service

    • 3 points on your driving record

Traffic Offenses and Your Driver’s License

For many types of moving violations or traffic infractions, when you plead guilty or are found guilty, points are added to your driver’s license. In Michigan, when you reach 12 points, your driver’s license may be suspended, and you’ll have to fulfill conditions and pay fees to get it reinstated.

In the meantime, you won’t be allowed to drive, or will face a misdemeanor offense if you drive under suspension and get caught.

Out of State Drivers

When you get a ticket or are charged with a traffic misdemeanor as a driver who is visiting or passing through Michigan, you face potentially serious consequences. Some traffic offenses can carry jail sentences, depending on the nature of your traffic violation. Even if your Michigan offense is a civil infraction, it can affect your car insurance rates for years to come.

As a non-resident, you may be able to have an attorney appear on your behalf if you want to contest the ticket or need to defend a misdemeanor traffic charge. Your attorney can negotiate with prosecutors to try to resolve your case without your having to appear in court or to minimize the time you need to spend in a Michigan courtroom.

What You Need to Know About Your Lansing Traffic Charges

Have you ever considered fighting your traffic ticket? If you drive professionally, for example, a traffic ticket could mean added points to your Michigan driver’s license – that could be devastating. However, there are many other reasons to fight a traffic charge. Listed below is some additional information on topics regarding traffic charges in Michigan. If you can’t see the information you’re hoping to find here, please call Lansing traffic attorney Tiffany DeBruin today a (517) 324-4303 for a free consult.

  • Driving Under Suspension – If you find yourself facing the types of serious consequences that occur when your license is suspended or revoked, you should consider contacting a Lansing traffic attorney who can help you understand your options and will work to find the best possible resolution for your case. Learn more.
  • Failure to Stop for a School Bus or Yield to an Emergency Vehicle – While a ticket and a fine of several hundred dollars may not seem like a big deal to some, having a violation on your driving record actually has a number of unwelcome consequences that can impact your life for years.
  • Hiring a Lansing DUI Lawyer – It is important for your lawyer to have relevant experience fighting traffic violations. Since traffic tickets are very local matters, you will benefit from a lawyer with regional knowledge and solid professional relationships with the prosecutors, judges, and magistrates who will decide your case. Learn more.
  • Keeping Your Michigan Driver License – If you are facing criminal charges or a traffic violation that may get you points on your driving record, resulting in you losing your license, learn more about your options here.
  • Leaving the Scene of an Injury Accident – These are often considered some of the more serious traffic charges in Michigan. Unlike most traffic charges, leaving the scene of an injury accident is a misdemeanor offense. Don’t let a criminal conviction affect you. Learn more.
  • Moving Violation that Causes Serious Injury – Every case is different, but after conducting thorough interviews of you and any possible witnesses, a good Lansing traffic attorney will help you understand possible defenses on your behalf. Learn more here.
  • Reckless Driving – If you received a ticket for reckless driving, it is not just a civil infraction. The state of Michigan considers it to be a misdemeanor criminal offense. Questions? Learn more here.
  • Speeding – A good Lansing traffic attorney can look at every facet of your speeding ticket and help you understand what your options are. Learn more.
  • Driving Without a License – This charge can result in serious penalties if convicted. Whether or not you have a license, you should contact an attorney who can help you navigate the criminal justice system.

How a Lansing Traffic Attorney Can Help You

As Lansing traffic attorneys, we have experience representing people cited for moving violations or charged with traffic misdemeanors, and resolving cases in ways that meet our clients’ goals. We have experience challenging radar results and other methods for calculating your speed, and finding any flaws in the police process that might work to get your case dismissed or your penalties reduced.

When we go into court, we will fight to get you the best possible resolution for your case, and strive to keep your driver’s license, your job and your life intact following your traffic charge.