Michigan Traffic Tickets and Violations
Though getting a traffic ticket is frustrating, it doesn’t have to be devastating. If you recently received a traffic violation in Michigan, there are steps you can take to keep your driving record clean and prevent costly insurance hikes.
Traffic Ticket Basics
Michigan traffic tickets are handled in district courts throughout the state. Determine which court will resolve your ticket and decide if you’re going to submit a “guilty,” “guilty with explanation,” or “not guilty” plea. Read your ticket carefully, because the time frame for submitting pleas for Michigan traffic tickets can vary from court to court.
It’s essential that you respond to your court in a timely manner. If you don’t submit your plea on time, the court will file a default judgment in your case. You’ll be charged an additional fee, and if you fail to respond to your default judgment, you could end up with a suspended license.
Filing a “guilty” or “guilty with explanation” plea can be done in person or through the mail. You will be required to pay your fine and the conviction, and associated points will be added to your driving record. Some drivers have the option to take a Michigan Basic Driver Improvement Course (BDIC) to remove the points from your record, but it is at the court’s discretion, and you may only take the course once in your lifetime.
If you don’t think you deserved your ticket, all drivers have the option to fight MI traffic tickets in court. This process requires you to plead “not guilty” and present your case in person or through an attorney you hire to represent you. If you win, your ticket will be dismissed and your driving record will remain clear of points. But if you lose, you could face additional fines and court fees, as well as attorney’s fees.
Michigan Point System
All traffic tickets in Michigan are assigned a point value. The Michigan DMV point system is a way to track your driving performance and penalize bad drivers by suspending or revoking their licenses. The larger the infraction, the more points associated with that traffic ticket. And the more points on your record, the higher your chances are for license suspension. The points from a traffic conviction remain on your driving record for 2 years — unless you take a Michigan driver improvement course.
In addition to having too many points on your record, there are other ways you could lose your driving privileges in Michigan. A few include:
- Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs
- Driving with a suspended or revoked driver’s license
- Fleeing the scene of an accident
- Failure to yield to an emergency vehicle
- Unsafe driving in a construction zone resulting in the death of a construction employee
Michigan fines and penalties for these violations can vary from court to court as well, so be sure to consult your court immediately after receiving your Michigan traffic ticket.
Removing Traffic Ticket Points
In addition to fighting a traffic ticket in Michigan, you also have the option of taking a BDIC to dismiss your ticket. Keeping tickets and points from being added to your record is important, because even just one violation could result in an insurance rate increase.
To take a BDIC to remove points and keep a ticket from being reported to your insurance company, you’ll need to receive permission from the Michigan Secretary of State. It’s also worth noting that Michigan drivers can only take a BDIC course once in their lifetime to remove points from their driving record. You could be eligible to take a course if you meet the following criteria:
- You received a non-criminal traffic ticket
- You do not hold a commercial drivers license
- You have less than 2 points on your record
- Your ticket has a value of 3 points or less
- You’ve never taken a BDIC before
- Your license is not currently suspended or revoked
Typically a state-approved Michigan BDIC takes 4 hours. Whether you submit your course completion information to the court yourself, or your course provider does it for you, you should always follow up to ensure you received credit. Obtain a copy of your Michigan driver record and make sure the required 2 points were removed. If you see any problems, follow up with the court right away to prevent inaccurate reporting to your insurance provider.