In an interview on Wood TV8 on March 26, 2020, the Governor of Michigan stated that “We recommend that you get outside and walk your dog, but jumping on a motorcycle and traveling is not permitted under this order.” The next day, I received numerous inquiries from motorcyclists asking if they were permitted to ride. The short answer is: Yes. The “stay at home” order does NOT prevent you from using your motorcycle as a means of transportation.
Can you ride your motorcycle? Of course you can. But when you do, the same rules apply to you as to everyone else on the road. So, when can you ride?
When Can You Ride a Motorcycle During the Coronavirus Lockdown?
An exception to the “stay at home” provision of the Order applies provided you are engaging in “outdoor activity… [including] any other recreational activity consistent with remaining at least six feet from people from outside the individual’s household.” Can you ride as a “recreational” “outdoor activity”? Probably. But that argument has not yet been tested in the courts. Assuming you do ride, can you take your wife on your motorcycle as a passenger? Yes, if she lives with you. Can you take an unrelated person on your motorcycle as a passenger if that person does not live with you? No. Because that would be a violation of the six foot rule.
You may also ride your motorcycle when it is providing transportation for you to perform “…tasks that are necessary to [your] health and safety or their family or household members (including pets)” and/or to obtain “necessary services or supplies for themselves, their family or household members or their vehicles.” For example, if your cat needs cat food, may you go get it using your motorcycle? Yes. If your child needs hygiene items, can you go get them using your motorcycle? Sure. If you run out of toothpaste, can you go get more on your motorcycle? Of course. What if your motorcycle tail light is burned-out or your license plate screw is missing, can you go to the motorcycle store service department to get parts or services? By definition: Probably.
The answer also depends on whether a motorcycle is a “vehicle”. It is a “vehicle” by common definition. But keep in mind that a motorcycle doesn’t meet the definition of a “motor vehicle” under Michigan’s no-fault law, so a police officer may be confused as to which definition applies. You may also use your motorcycle to travel between two residences in the State, or to leave the State and return.
The concern that I have been hearing is from motorcyclists is that the police may now seek to enforce the stay at home order disproportionately with regard to them. If it were me, and I was taking my motorcycle on a “recreational” outdoor ride, I would pack a shopping bag, my credit card, and have a grocery destination in mind with the intent to stop there for some health care essentials.
What Should I Do If Stopped by the Police?
What to do when stopped by the police is beyond the scope of this article. But if you are detained, and you don’t feel as though you are free to leave, you should invoke your Constitutional right not to answer any questions posed by the officer regarding where you are going or why. Be polite. Follow directions. But ask for an attorney. The police are not required to provide you with an attorney, but when you decline to answer any more questions without one they are required to stop questioning you.
Remember: The best time to talk to a lawyer is BEFORE you get in trouble. As a motorcyclist, you don’t want to become the test case for whether this new law applies to what you did. Keep your eye on this site for more blogs about how the stay at home order may apply to you.
Need to speak with an attorney? Contact our experienced team at Grewal Law PLLC today at (888) 211-5798.
- The Order itself, which took effect on March 24, 2020, can be found here: https://www.michigan.gov/whitmer/0,9309,7-387-90499_90705-522626--,00.html
- Guidance by the Attorney General regarding how to comply with the Order can be found here: https://www.michigan.gov/ag/0,4534,7-359-98784---,00.html