There seems to be more orange barrels and construction zones on Michigan roadways than there is road to drive upon. The presence of heavy equipment, broken concrete and pedestrian road workers can create a hazardous situation for both drivers and construction crews alike. As a result, Michigan law punishes drivers who disobey traffic laws inside of work zones more harshly due to the greater dangers involved.
"Work zone", as defined in MCL 257.79d, "means a portion of a street or highway that meets any of the following:"
- (a) Is between a "work zone begins" sign and an "end road work" sign.
- (b) For construction, maintenance, or utility work activities conducted by a work crew and more than 1 moving vehicle, is between a "begin work convoy" sign and an "end work convoy" sign.
- (c) For construction, maintenance, surveying, or utility work activities conducted by a work crew and 1 moving or stationary vehicle exhibiting a rotating beacon or strobe light, is between the following points:
- (i) A point that is 150 feet behind the rear of the vehicle or that is the point from which the beacon or strobe light is first visible on the street or highway behind the vehicle, whichever is closer to the vehicle.
- (ii) A point that is 150 feet in front of the front of the vehicle or that is the point from which the beacon or strobe light is first visible on the street or highway in front of the vehicle, whichever is closer to the vehicle.
"A person operating a vehicle on a highway, when entering and passing through a work zone where a normal lane or part of the lane of traffic has been closed due to highway construction, maintenance, or surveying activities, shall not exceed a speed of 45 miles per hour unless a different speed limit is determined for that work zone by the state transportation department, a county road commission, or a local authority, based on accepted engineering practice." MCL 257.627(6). In 2008, the Michigan Legislature passed "Andy's Law" which substantially increased the criminal penalties for harming or killing construction workers in work zones while committing a traffic violation. As a result, all Michigan drivers should be aware of the following statutes:
- A person responsible for a moving violation in a work zone is subject to a fine that is DOUBLE the fine otherwise prescribed for that moving violation. MCL 257.601b(1).
- Driving in excess of the legal speed limit in a work zone is punishable by more points on a person's Michigan driving record than if the speed occurred in a non-work zone, to wit:
- 5 points for driving more than 15 miles per hour over the speed limit in a work zone. MCL 257.320a(1)(g).
- 4 points for driving between 11-15 miles per hour over the speed limit in a work zone. MCL 257.320a(1)(k).
- 3 points for driving between 1-10 miles per hour over the speed limit in a work zone. MCL 257.320a(1)(w).
- A person who commits a moving violation in a work zone that is punishable by at least 3 points on his or her driver's license record and, as a result, causes INJURY to another person in that work zone, contrary to MCL 257.601b(2), is guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by:
- A fine up to $1,000; and/or
- Up to 1 year in jail
- 6 points added to Michigan driving record.
- A person who commits a moving violation in a work zone that is punishable by at least 3 points on his or her driver's license record and, as a result, causes DEATH to another person in that work zone, contrary to MCL 257.601b(3), is guilty of a felony punishable by:
- A fine up to $7,500; and/or
- Up to 15 years in state prison
- 6 points added to Michigan driving record.
Work zone violations are serious and can result in substantial fines, license sanctions or even incarceration. A person accused of a civil infraction is not required to admit responsibility and can request a formal or informal hearing before a district court judge or magistrate. A person accused of a misdemeanor or felony will be arraigned on criminal charges and is entitled to a trial by judge or jury. An experienced traffic attorney can protect your rights by negotiating a favorable resolution with the prosecutor or, if the evidence against you is weak, obtain an acquittal after an evidentiary hearing. You can expect that the prosecutor and the courts will take work zone violations seriously, so your defense should be just as vigorous.
If you or a loved one is accused of any traffic violation, do not hesitate to contact the skilled lawyers at Kershaw, Vititoe & Jedinak PLC today.