Every motor vehicle, recreational vehicle, trailer, semitrailer, and pole trailer, when driven or moved on a street or highway in the State of Michigan must have a registration plate proper affixed to it. However, the following vehicles are not subject to registration:
- A vehicle that is driven or moved on a street or highway only for the purpose of crossing that street or highway from 1 property to another. MCL 257.216(b).
- An implement of husbandry. MCL 257.216(c).
- A trailer, semitrailer, or pole trailer that weighs less than 2,500 pounds. MCL 257.216(g).
- A vehicle driven or moved on a street or highway, by the most direct route, only for the purpose of securing a scale weight receipt from a weighmaster or obtaining a vehicle inspection by a law enforcement agency before titling or registration of that vehicle. MCL 257.216(h).
- A moped. MCL 257.216(k).
- For 3 days immediately following the date of a properly assigned title or signed lease agreement from any person other than a dealer, a registration is not required for a vehicle driven or moved on a street or highway for the sole purpose of transporting the vehicle by the most direct route from the place of purchase or lease to a place of storage if the driver has in his or her possession the assigned title showing the date of sale or a lease agreement showing the date of the lease. MCL 257.216(l).
- A pickup camper. MCL 257.216(m).
- A new motor vehicle driven or moved on a street or highway only for the purpose of moving the vehicle from an accident site to a storage location if the vehicle was being transported on a railroad car or semitrailer that was involved in a disabling accident. MCL 257.216(n).
- A boat lift used for transporting vessels between a marina or a body of water and a place of inland storage. MCL 257.216(o).
All vehicle owners must file an application and pay the required fees to the Secretary of State to obtain a proper registration plate. In addition, vehicle registrations must be renewed annually, and the vehicle owner must either attach a new registration plate or affix a new expiration tab every year. Any Michigan resident who violates the requirements of the registration act is subject to civil and criminal penalties:
OPERATING AN UNREGISTERED VEHICLE (MCL 257.215)
- It is against the law for any person to drive or move or for an owner knowingly to permit to be driven or moved upon any highway any vehicle of a type required to be registered which is not registered or for which the appropriate fee has not been paid.
- The penalty for violating this statute is a misdemeanor conviction punishable by a fine up to $100.00, or up to 90 days in jail, or both.
FAILURE TO DISPLAY A REGISTRATION PLATE (MCL 257.225)
- A registration plate issued for a vehicle shall be attached to the rear of the vehicle. A registration plate issued for a truck tractor or road tractor shall be attached to the front of the vehicle. MCL 257.225(1).
- A registration plate shall at all times be securely fastened in a horizontal position to the vehicle for which the plate is issued so as to prevent the plate from swinging. The plate shall be attached at a height of not less than 12 inches from the ground, measured from the bottom of the plate, in a place and position that is clearly visible. The plate shall be maintained free from foreign materials that obscure or partially obscure the registration information and in a clearly legible condition. The attachment to the rear of a vehicle of a tow ball, bicycle rack, removable hitch, or any other device designed to carry an object on the rear of a vehicle, including the object being carried, does not violate this law. MCL 257.225(2).
- A registration plate or an expiration tab on the registration plate shall be of a different color designated by the secretary of state with a marked contrast between the color of the registration plate and the numerals or letters on the plate. The secretary of state may provide a distinctive registration plate as a replacement for a standard plate. To honor a special or historical event, the secretary of state may provide a commemorative plate as a replacement for a standard plate. MCL 257.225(3).
- A person shall not attach a name plate, insignia, or advertising device to a registration plate in a manner that obscures or partially obscures the registration information. MCL 257.225(4).
- A person shall not operate a motor vehicle that has a name plate, insignia, or advertising device attached to a registration plate in a manner that obscures or partially obscures the registration information. MCL 257.225(5).
- A registration plate issued for a historic military vehicle that is authorized to be operated on the roads of this state is not required to be attached to the rear or the front of the historic military vehicle unless the historic military vehicle was originally manufactured with lighting and mounting provisions for a registration plate. However, if the registration plate is not attached to the exterior of the historic military vehicle, it shall be present in the historic military vehicle to which it refers and shall be made available upon demand of a police officer. As used in this law, “historic military vehicle” means a vehicle, including a trailer, regardless of the vehicle’s size, weight, or year of manufacture, that was manufactured for use in any country’s military forces and is maintained to represent its military design and markings accurately. MCL 257.225(6).
- A person who violates this section is responsible for a civil infraction punishable by a fine. MCL 257.225(7).
IMPROPER REGISTRATION PLATE (MCL 257.256)
- A person shall not lend to another person, or knowingly permit the use of any registration plate, special plate issued to him or her if the person receiving or using the registration plate or special plate would not be entitled to the use thereof. A person shall not carry or display upon a vehicle any registration plate not issued for the vehicle or not otherwise lawfully used under the registration act. MCL 257.256(1)
- A person who violates this statute with a non-commercial vehicle is guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by a fine up to $100.00 or up to 90 days in jail, or both. MCL 257.256(2).
- A person who violates this statute with a commercial vehicle is guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by a fine up to $500.00 or up to 90 days in jail, or both. MCL 257.256(3).
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. Since registration plate violations are considered a non-moving violation, they carry no points or license sanctions.
However, if you are charged with a misdemeanor, you will be required to appear in court before a judge. If you are found guilty by a judge or jury, you will have a criminal conviction on your record punishable by a fine, probation or even jail. In this situation, you need to have a traffic lawyer in your corner that will protect your rights. Even if the evidence against you is strong, a lawyer may be able to negotiate with the prosecutor a reduction to a civil infraction or even a dismissal if the violation was corrected.
If you or a loved one is accused of registration plate violations or any traffic offense and need legal representation, do not hesitate to contact the experienced attorneys at Kershaw, Vititoe & Jedinak PLC today.