What Do You Really Know About Michigan’s Traffic Laws?

Man gripping steering wheel

Each state has different traffic laws set in place to help keep all motorists safe. When these laws aren’t followed, accidents do happen, and many people get hurt. In order to help make the road a safer place, the Grewal Law PLLC put together this blog to discuss the various Michigan traffic laws and what you can do to keep the roads a better place for everyone.


Before we get started, we just wanted to share some statistics to give readers a better understanding of what the current state of the roads looks like. Michigan Traffic Crash Facts put together a fact sheet for 2020 crash data, and the numbers were surprising.

In total there were 245,432 crashes, of which 1,010 of those were fatal. In comparison to 2019, the state saw a 21.9% decrease in total crashes; however, fatalities were up 12%. It’s essential to take into account that more people did not commute in 2020 due to stay-at-home orders during the beginning of the pandemic.

If you’re interested in more statistics on drinking and driving, speeding, and cell phone use, you can find the 2020 fact sheet here.

Speeding Laws

According to Michigan (MCL 257.627(1)), a person operating any vehicle on a highway must use the vehicle 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 existing at the time.”

The law then goes on to say an individual must not operate a vehicle on a highway at a, “speed greater than that which will permit a stop within the assured, clear distance ahead.”

In other words, you need to be following state signs and obeying the speed limit at all times unless traffic requires you to adjust your speed. If you’re caught going over or under the speed limit in a manner that could potentially put others and yourself at risk, you could get a ticket for violating the basic speeding law.

Speeding Penalties

A person’s penalties for speeding depend on their offense history. If a first-time offender receives a ticket for speeding, they’re most likely going to pay up to $100 in fines, another $100 in court costs, and two points on their record for driving ten mph or less above the legal speed limit. As a person’s speeding offenses rack up, so will their fines. Obeying speed limits is critical to road safety. Not only does speeding put your life at risk, but it can also be dangerous for those around you too.

Michigan Point System

If you weren’t aware, each state has a traffic violation points system, which puts points on licenses of those who were negligent. Each state has different rules when it comes to the points system, but in Michigan, once a point is placed on your record, it must stay there for two years from the date of the conviction, and no, you cannot take these points off of your record early.

Once a person receives 12 points on their Michigan driving record, they can face having their license suspended and be forced to retake the state’s driving and eyesight exam. Depending on your background, your license can be suspended from a few months to a few years.

Drinking and Driving Laws

Michigan follows (MCL 257.625(1)), which states that a person, licensed or not, cannot operate a vehicle while intoxicated. If a person over 21 is driving with a BAC of .08 or higher, or a person under 21 is driving with a BAC of .02 or higher, they can face many penalties and fines.

Drinking Penalties

Similar to speeding, the consequences of a drunk driving conviction vary depending on your BAC and if it is a person's first offense or not. If a person’s BAC is below .17 and it is their first offense, they can face:

  • Up to a $500 fine
  • Up to 93 days in jail
  • Up to 180 days of a license suspension
  • 6 points on a driver’s license

However, if a person’s BAC is above .17 with a first offense, they can face:

  • Up to $700 in fines
  • Up to 180 days in jail
  • Drivers license suspension for up to one year
  • 6 points on a driver’s license

Note: It is never okay to drink and drive even if you only, “had one.”

Seat Belt Laws

MI Vehicle Code section 257.710e states that safety belts are required for drivers and passengers in the front seat and for children between the ages of eight and 15. Any children eight years old and under 4-feet-9-inches tall must be safely and securely fastened into a child safety seat at all times while in the vehicle. Michigan has a primary seat belt law meaning local authorities can stop and ticket any motorists for not being buckled up.

Seat Belt Penalties

If you get caught driving without a seatbelt, you can face a $65 fine. Luckily, a seat belt violation is not as harsh and does not result in points being assessed onto a person's driver’s license.

Intersection Laws

As much as we’d like to fully cover Michigan intersection laws in this blog, we already did so in another blog that you can find here[1] . But don’t worry, we’ll still go over the basics:


  • If a driver approaches a stop or yield sign, any motor vehicle, cyclist, or pedestrian in the intersection already has the right of way.
  • If you are approaching a 4-way stop, the vehicle that arrives at the intersection first has the right of way.
  • When two drivers enter an intersection at the same time, the driver on the left must yield to the driver on the right.
  • A driver approaching an intersection must yield the right of way to a vehicle that entered the intersection from a different highway.


If you live in Michigan and use our roadways, it's recommended to take 5 minutes to read this excellent article by Kyla King of the Michigan Press. We won’t reiterate her exposition of common misconceptions about Michigan’s traffic laws, but we do want to take a moment to address a related issue: motor vehicle safety.

Although our state has recently taken steps to ensure first-time and teenage drivers are familiar with traffic safety laws, most motorists have simply formed “driving habits” that may or may not conform to the law. These poor habits can range anywhere from harmless to annoying to unsafe. While many drivers are concerned about avoiding detection and thus dodging a ticket, few people seem to realize that these behaviors jeopardize the safety of everybody on the road.

Michigan Car Accident Attorneys

Even if you think you know it all when it comes to traffic laws and safety, you may want to take a few moments to refresh your understanding of the rules of the road. These are not lessons you want to learn the hard way.

If, however, you sustained injuries from a car accident that wasn’t your fault, you may have grounds to receive compensation. Our attorneys at have the experience and resources to take on even the most complex accidents. Don’t hesitate to seek justice for your and your loved one's injuries, contact us today.

Call our Car Accident Attorneys at (888) 211-5798 or visit our Contact Us page to get started on your free consultation.

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