For an individual to be responsible for the offense of impeding traffic in Michigan, the prosecutor must establish that MCL 257.676b(1) was violated as follows:
“[A] person, without authority, shall not block, obstruct, impede, or otherwise interfere with the normal flow of vehicular or pedestrian traffic upon a public street or highway in this state, by means of a barricade, object, or device, or with his or her person. This section does not apply to persons maintaining, rearranging, or constructing public utility facilities in or adjacent to a street or highway.”
- “Block, obstruct or impede” means anything that stops the regular movement or progress of traffic.
- Highway or street means “the entire width between the boundary lines of every way publicly maintained when any part thereof is open to the use of the public for purposes of vehicular travel.” MCL 257.20.
- The statute is broad to encompass almost all objects, including other motor vehicle, or any part of the human body. However, the Michigan Traffic Code has numerous exceptions:
- Police officers and firefighters can stand in the road to direct traffic. MCL 257.602.
- Authorized workers “performing construction, maintenance, surveying, or utility work within a work zone may direct traffic within that work zone”. MCL 257.611a(1).
- School crossing guards can stop traffic in performing their duties. MCL 257.613b.
- Pedestrians are permitted to walk on the road if no sidewalks are available. MCL 257.655.
MCL 257.676b(2) provides an exception to impeding traffic for a person who is soliciting contributions on behalf of a charitable or civic organization during daylight hours if ALL of the following are satisfied:
- (a) The charitable or civic organization complies with applicable local government regulations.
- (b) The charitable or civic organization maintains at least $500,000.00 in liability insurance.
- (c) The person is 18 years of age or older.
- (d) The person is wearing high-visibility safety apparel that meets current American standards promulgated by the International Safety Equipment Association.
- (e) The portion of the roadway upon which the solicitation occurs is not a work zone and is within an intersection where traffic control devices are present.
Impeding traffic is a civil infraction punishable by a fine. It is also considered a non-moving violation that does not add any points to the offender’s Michigan driving record. Non-moving violations are not reported to the Michigan Secretary of State and are less likely to be detected by automobile insurance companies as a basis to raise rates. Municipal attorneys will frequently offer to reduce speeding tickets to an impeding traffic charge which avoids points on the driver’s record but usually results in a bigger fine.
A person accused of impeding traffic is not required to admit responsibility and can request a formal or informal hearing before a district court judge or magistrate. It is possible that the court can let you off the hook if you present the facts and circumstances that caused you to impede traffic and it appears you are not at fault. Furthermore, if the obstruction of traffic resulted in a collision, then admitting responsibility can be evidence in a future civil suit that you acted with negligence and should be liable for monetary damages. Whether or not you decide to fight the offense or pay the fine depends on the individual facts and circumstances. Sometimes it is worth challenging the accusation to stave off something worse, and sometimes its worth paying the fine to avoid missed work and attorney fees if the evidence against you is strong. An experienced traffic attorney can help guide you in making the right decision for your situation.
If you are charged with impeding traffic or any other offense, do not hesitate to contact the traffic offense lawyers at Kershaw, Vititoe & Jedinak PLC.