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When Can Vehicle Immobilization Be Ordered By A Court in Michigan?

by | Jun 9, 2022 | DUI Offenses, Traffic Offenses |

 

If you are charged and convicted of a DUI or other traffic offense in Michigan, one of the possible outcomes is that the sentencing court can order that your vehicle be immobilized and rendered unusable for a period of time.  The length of time that a vehicle is immobilized depends on the type of offense you are convicted of and whether you have any previous convictions.

 

WHEN AND HOW LONG CAN THE COURT ORDER VEHICLE IMMOBILIZATION?

For a person convicted of Operating While Intoxicated (MCL 257.625(1)) or Operating While Visibly Impaired (MCL 257.625(3)) or of a substantially similar local ordinance of either, or for a person convicted of Child Endangerment (MCL 257.625(7)) or Operating With Presence Of Schedule I or II Controlled Substance, the following rules regarding vehicle immobilization apply:

  • For a first conviction, the court MAY order vehicle immobilization up to 180 days. MCL 257.904d(1)(a).
  • For a conviction occurring within 7 years of a prior conviction of any other DUI offense, the court SHALL order vehicle immobilization for between 90 days and 180 days. MCL 257.904d(1)(c).
  • For a conviction occurring after two or more prior convictions of any other DUI offense, the court SHALL order vehicle immobilization for between 1 year and 3 years. MCL 257.904d(1)(d).

For a person convicted of Operating Under The Influence Causing Death (MCL 257.625(4)) or Operating Under the Influence Causing Serious Impairment of Bodily Function (MCL 257.625(5)), the following rules regarding vehicle immobilization apply:

  • For a first conviction, the court SHALL order vehicle immobilization up to 180 days. MCL 257.904d(1)(b).
  • For a conviction occurring within 7 years of a prior conviction of any other DUI offense, the court SHALL order vehicle immobilization for between 90 days and 180 days. MCL 257.904d(1)(c).
  • For a conviction occurring after two or more prior convictions of any other DUI offense, the court SHALL order vehicle immobilization for between 1 year and 3 years. MCL 257.904d(1)(d).

For a person convicted of Reckless Driving Causing Serious Impairment of Bodily Function (MCL 257.626(3)) or Reckless Driving Causing Death (MCL 257.626(4)), the court MAY order vehicle immobilization up to 180 days.  MCL 257.904d(1)(a).

For a person convicted of operating a vehicle without an ignition interlock device when required (MCL 257.625l(2)), the court SHALL order vehicle immobilization for between 90 days and 180 days.  MCL 257.904d(1)(c).

For a conviction or civil infraction determination resulting from a violation that occurred during a period of suspension, revocation, or denial, the following rules regarding vehicle immobilization apply:

  • If the conviction or civil infraction occurred within 7 years of one prior suspension, revocation or denial of your operator’s license or CDL under MCL 257.904(10), MCL 257.904(11), or MCL 257.904(12), the court MAY order vehicle immobilization up to 180 days. MCL 257.904d(2)(a).
  • If the conviction was for Operating While License Suspended, Revoked or Denied Causing Death (MCL 257.904(4)) or Operating While License Suspended, Revoked or Denied Causing Serious Impairment of Bodily Function (MCL 257.904(5)), the court SHALL order vehicle immobilization up to 180 days. MCL 257.904d(2)(b).
  • For any combination of two or three prior suspensions, revocations or denials of your operator’s license or CDL within the past 7 years under MCL 257.904(10), MCL 257.904(11), or MCL 257.904(12), the court SHALL order vehicle immobilization between 90 days and 180 days. MCL 257.904d(2)(c).
  • For any combination of four prior suspensions, revocations or denials of your operator’s license or CDL within the past 7 years under MCL 257.904(10), MCL 257.904(11), or MCL 257.904(12), the court SHALL order vehicle immobilization between 1 year and 3 years. MCL 257.904d(2)(d).

The following offenses are NOT subject to vehicle immobilization:

  • A conviction or civil infraction determination resulting from a violation that occurred during a period of suspension, revocation, or denial due to nonpayment of child support or spousal support, unless the conviction would independently result in vehicle immobilization. MCL 257.904d(7)(a).
  • A violation of Chapter II of the Michigan Vehicle Code concerning administration, registrations and certificate of titles. MCL 257.904d(7)(e)(i).
  • A violation of Chapter V of the Michigan Vehicle Code concerning financial responsibilities of drivers. MCL 257.904d(7)(e)(ii).
  • A violation for failure to change address. MCL 257.904d(7)(e)(iii).
  • A parking violation. MCL 257.904d(7)(e)(iv).
  • A bad check violation. MCL 257.904d(7)(e)(v).
  • An equipment violation. MCL 257.904d(7)(e)(vi).
  • A pedestrian, passenger or bicycle violation, unless the violation concerns minor in possession of alcohol under MCL 436.1703 or a similar statue. MCL 257.904d(7)(e)(vii).

If a defendant is ordered imprisoned for the violation for which immobilization is ordered, the period of immobilization shall begin at the end of the period of imprisonment.  MCL 257.904d(6).  If the court is required to issue vehicle immobilization, then an order cannot be suspended by the court except under the following circumstances:

  • If the conviction was for operating a vehicle without an ignition interlock device when required (MCL 257.625l(2)), the immobilization order is suspended when the person obtains a restricted operator’s or chauffeur’s license from the secretary of state and an ignition interlock device is properly installed in the vehicle. MCL 257.904d(11).
  • If the secretary of state grants a restricted license during a suspension period, then the vehicle immobilization order can be suspended. MCL 257.904d(13).

 

WHAT VEHICLES ARE SUBJECT TO IMMOBILIZATION?

If the conviction warrants vehicle immobilization, then the court may order a vehicle to be immobilized under either of the following circumstances:

  • “The defendant is the owner, co-owner, lessee, or co-lessee of the vehicle operated during the violation.” MCL 257.904d(4)(a).
  • “The owner, co-owner, lessee, or co-lessee knowingly permitted the vehicle to be operated [by a person under the influence under MCL 257.625(2)] or [by a person whose license was suspended, revoked or denied under MCL 257.904(2)] regardless of whether a conviction resulted.” MCL 257.904d(4)(b).  This can immobilize a vehicle that the defendant has no legal or equitable interest in whatsoever.

However, the following vehicles are NOT subject to immobilization:

  • “A vehicle that is registered in another state or that is a rental vehicle.” MCL 257.904d(7)(b).
  • “A vehicle owned by the federal government, this state, or a local unit of government of this state.” MCL 257.904d(7)(c).
  • A vehicle not subject to registration under Michigan law. MCL 257.904d(7)(d).

The defendant is required to provide the VIN number and registration plate number of the vehicle involved in the violation of law to the court.  MCL 257.904d(3).

 

HOW IS A VEHICLE IMMOBILIZED?

The court can order that a vehicle can be immobilized through tether technology or any other available means that locks the ignition, wheels, steering wheel or otherwise prevents the defendant from operating the vehicle.  MCL 257.9043(1).  The court can also order the vehicle to be stored at a location considered appropriate and order the defendant to pay the costs of immobilizing and storing the vehicle.  Id.

 

CAN YOU SELL A VEHICLE THAT IS IMMOBILIZED?

A vehicle subject to immobilization may be sold during the period of immobilization, but may not be sold to any of the following people without a court order: the spouse, mother, father, brother, sister, child, stepparent, stepchild, stepbrother, stepsister, grandparent, grandchild, legal ward, or a legally appointed guardian with a certified letter of guardianship, of the defendant.  MCL 257.904e(2).

 

WHAT ARE THE PENALTIES FOR VIOLATING A VEHICLE IMMOBILIZATION ORDER?

A person who commits any of the following offenses is guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by a fine up to $100.00 or up to 93 days in jail, or both (MCL 257.904e(5)):

  • A vehicle subject to immobilization is sold to the defendant’s spouse, mother, father, brother, sister, child, stepparent, stepchild, stepbrother, stepsister, grandparent, grandchild, legal ward, or a legally appointed guardian with a certified letter of guardianship without a court order. MCL 257.904e(2).
  • The defendant purchases, leases or otherwise obtains a motor vehicle during the immobilization period. MCL 257.904e(3).
  • A person removes, tampers with, or bypasses or attempts to remove, tamper with, or bypass a device that he or she knows or has reason to know has been installed on a vehicle by court order for vehicle immobilization or operate or attempt to operate a vehicle that he or she knows or has reason to know has been ordered immobilized. MCL 257.904e(4).

If a peace officer stops a vehicle that is being operated in violation of an immobilization order, the vehicle shall be impounded pending an order of the court issuing the immobilization order.  MCL 257.904e(7).

 

SPEAK TO A LAWYER ABOUT POSSIBLE VEHICLE IMMOBILIZATION CONSEQUENCES BEFORE YOU PLEAD GUILTY

Michigan has taken a tough stand against drunk driving and the penalties are fairly extensive.  Besides fines and possible jail time, there is the risk of license sanctions, community service and vehicle immobilization.  Your ability to drive to work, school or necessary appointments can be curtailed by a DUI conviction.  However, your case may have unique issues that can merit a reduced charge, a dismissal or even an acquittal.  A skilled criminal defense lawyer can evaluate your case and determine your possible defenses, file motions to attack evidence, and hold prosecutors to the burden of proving your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.  Always speak to legal counsel before pleading guilty to any DUI offense.

If you or a loved one are accused of any crime, do not hesitate to contact the attorneys at Kershaw, Vititoe & Jedinak PLC for assistance today.

 

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