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How Does The Driver's License Point System Work In Michigan?

When you are found responsible for a traffic civil infraction or found guilty of a criminal traffic offense, you can generally expect to be liable for fines and costs. In Michigan, the Secretary of State will assess between one and six points on your driving record depending on the offense. If you accumulate too many points on your record, then you can face consequences that include reexamination of your ability to drive, license restrictions or even license suspension.

Points are assessed for the following offenses:

  • SIX-POINT TRAFFIC VIOLATIONS
  1. Manslaughter, negligent homicide or a felony resulting from the operation of a motor vehicle, ORV or snowmobile. MCL 257.320a(1)(a).
  2. Moving violation in a school zone, work zone, public parking lot or against an "implement of husbandry" (e.g. agricultural vehicle) or stationary emergency vehicle that results in the injury or death of another person. MCL 257.320a(1)(b).
  3. Operating a motor vehicle, ORV or snowmobile while intoxicated. MCL 257.320a(1)(c).
  4. Failure to stop and disclose identity at the scene of an accident when required by law. MCL 257.320a(1)(d).
  5. Reckless driving. MCL 257.320a(1)(e)
  6. Fleeing or eluding a police officer in any degree. MCL 257.320a(1)(f).
  • FIVE-POINT TRAFFIC VIOLATIONS
  1. Driving more than 15 miles per hour over the speed limit in a work zone. MCL 257.320a(1)(g).
  • FOUR-POINT TRAFFIC VIOLATIONS
  1. Driving more than 15 miles per hour over the speed limit. MCL 257.320a(1)(h).
  2. Operating a motor vehicle, ORV or snowmobile while visibly impaired. MCL 257.320a(1)(i).
  3. Drag racing. MCL 257.320a(1)(j).
  4. Driving between 11-15 miles per hour over the speed limit in a work zone. MCL 257.320a(1)(k).
  5. A moving violation result in an at-fault collision with another vehicle, person or any other object. MCL 257.320a(1)(l).
  • THREE-POINT TRAFFIC VIOLATIONS
  1. Careless driving. MCL 257.320a(1)(m).
  2. Driving between 11-15 miles per hour over the speed limit. MCL 257.320a(1)(n).
  3. Disobeying a traffic signal, stop sign or improper passing. MCL 257.320a(1)(r).
  4. Driving between 1-10 miles per hour over the speed limit in a work zone. MCL 257.320a(1)(w).
  • TWO-POINT TRAFFIC VIOLATIONS
  1. Failure to use due caution while approaching emergency vehicle. MCL 257.320a(1)(o).
  2. Driving between 6-10 miles per hour over the speed limit. MCL 257.320a(1)(p).
  3. Open intoxicants in a motor vehicle or a minor transporting alcohol in a motor vehicle. MCL 257.320a(1)(s).
  4. Violation of the restrictions on a Level 1 or Level 2 graduated license. MCL 257.320a(1)(t).
  5. A refusal by a person less than 21 years of age to submit to a preliminary breath test required by a police officer. MCL 257.320a(1)(v).
  6. All other moving violations not otherwise specified in the Motor Vehicle Code. MCL 257.320a(1)(u).
  • ONE-POINT TRAFFIC VIOLATIONS
  1. Driving between 1-5 miles per hour over the speed limit. MCL 257.320a(1)(q).

If more than one conviction and/or civil infraction results from the same incident, points shall be entered only for the violation that receives the highest number of points. MCL 257.320a(5). For example, if a driver is convicted of driving while intoxicated (6 points), open intoxicants (2 points) and speeding (2 points), only six points are added to that driver's record for the highest-scoring offense from the same transaction.

However, points are NOT entered for the following offenses:

  • Failure to display valid graduated license or operator's license
  • Texting while operating a motor vehicle
  • Individual with Level 1 or Level 2 graduated license using a cell phone in violation of "Kelsey's Law"
  • Operating a commercial motor vehicle with less than 0.08 grams per 100 milliliters of blood, per 210 liters of breath or per 67 millilters of urine.
  • Excessive numbers of persons or failure to wear a crash helmet on a bicycle, motorcycle, moped, electric skateboard or electric personal assistive mobility device.
  • Violation of child restraint system seatbelt laws.
  • Excessive vehicle length or height violations.
  • Truck transporting excessive flammable liquids.
  • Bond forfeitures.
  • Overweight loads or defective equipment.

Here is what happens if you accumulate too many points on your driving record:

  • If a person has a total of 4 or more points within a 2-year period, the Secretary of State will send a letter informing that person of a higher-than-normal number of points on your driving record.
  • If a person has a total of 8 or more points within a 2-year period, the Secretary of State will send another letter warning of an impending suspension in the event that more points are accumulated.
  • If a person has accumulated 9 points, the Secretary of State "may call the person in for an interview as to the person's driving ability and record after due notice as to time and place of the interview. If the person fails to appear as provided in this subsection, the Secretary of State shall add 3 points to the person's record." MCL 257.320a(6).
  • If a person has a total of 12 or more points within a 2-year period, the Secretary of State may conduct an investigation or reexamination of that person and, based solely on the licensed operator's or chauffeur's driving record, may restrict, suspend, revoke, or impose other terms and conditions on the license of a person subject to an investigation or reexamination and require the immediate surrender of the license of that person. MCL 257.320(1)-(2). This examination can include a review of your driving record, a written knowledge test, a vision test and possibly an over-the-road test.

Automobile insurance companies also pay attention to your Michigan Secretary of State record and use that information as a basis to determine whether rates should be increased. Drivers may continue to pay for all of those traffic tickets long after the fines and costs are satisfied with the district court. There is no legal mechanism to remove or expunge points from your license before the two-year period has expired.

The best way to avoid the consequences of driver's license points is to avoid accumulating points in the first place. One option is to take a basic driver improvement course (or BDIC). If eligible, the driver can take a BDIC with an approved sponsor and, if successfully completed within 60 days of the Secretary of State's notice of eligibility, there will be no points entered on the driver's record. MCL 257.320d(1). An individual is NOT eligible for the BDIC if it was a criminal offense, the violation can cause four points to be assessed, there was more than one moving violation from the same incident, the individual already had three or more points on his or her record, the driver already completed a BDIC, or the driver's license was already restricted, suspended or revoked. MCL 257.320d(3).

Another option is that the individual challenges the civil infraction by requesting a formal or informal hearing before the district court judge or magistrate. In the case of a misdemeanor or felony, the accused has a right to a trial by judge or jury.  Even if the evidence against the driver appears strong, it may still be possible to negotiate a resolution with the prosecutor to reduce the offense to a non-moving violation with no points in exchange for a bigger fine. The short-term monetary penalty on the offense can offset years of additional costs related to insurance hikes and future license sanctions due to excessive points. A knowledgeable traffic attorney can help you find a favorable outcome no matter what the situation is.

Don't let points on your license hurt for years to come. If you or a loved one is facing any traffic offense, do not hesitate to contact the lawyers at Kershaw, Vititoe & Jedinak PLC today.

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