SHERIFF'S CORNER: 'Do you know why I stopped you?'
No one ever likes getting pulled over. Drivers are always nervous and for the most part don't know what to do. I feel it was time to give a reminder of your responsibilities while being out on the road.
In this edition of the "Sheriff's Corner," I cover driver's license requirements and traffic stop reminders.
SHOWING ID WHILE DRIVING
Are you required to provide your driver's license if asked by a peace officer while driving your vehicle?
Yes, no questions asked. Having a valid driver's license is required when operating a motor vehicle. Driving in Michigan is a privilege, not a right.
Remember, you have to have your driver's license on you while driving. If you are caught driving without a license but possess a valid driver's license, you can be charged with a misdemeanor.
MCL 257.311 states:
"The licensee shall have his or her operator's or chauffeur's license, or the receipt described in section 311a, in his or her immediate possession at all times when operating a motor vehicle, and shall display the same upon demand of any police officer, who shall identify himself or herself as such."
EXPIRED DRIVER'S LICENSE DURING CRISIS
One of the most frequently asked questions during the crisis is "What if my license expires and I cannot get it renewed due to the Secretary of State being closed, or having limited hours of operations having to first get an appointment?"
Under Public Acts 127, 128, and 129, the deadline for renewing driver's licenses and state identification cards, vehicle registrations, permits, certifications, and endorsements that expired on or after March 1, 2020 has been extended to September 30, 2020.
TRAFFIC STOPS AND EXECUTIVE ORDERS
From the Michigan Attorney General: A traffic stop is reasonable as long as the driver is detained only for a reasonable period of time to ask reasonable questions concerning the alleged violation of law and its context, to obtain additional information about the offense, (e.g., the circumstances leading to its commission, the reason for the stop, the driver's destination, travel plans, the purpose and itinerary for the trip,) in order to determine what violations have taken place, and whether to issue a warning, a citation, or to make an arrest.
May a police officer conduct a traffic stop merely to inquire about compliance with a Michigan Executive Order?
No. Absent articulable facts that would lead a reasonable police officer to believe the driver of the vehicle was in violation of an Executive Order, a stop strictly to inquire about compliance is improper.
THE NEW REAL-ID REQUIREMENT
Passed by Congress in 2005, the act "sets document and security standards for the production and issuance of driver's licenses and ID cards, including the use of features to prevent illegal copying or altering. It also helps protect against fraud and misuse by requiring people to verify their identity, residency, Social Security number, and citizenship or legal presence when applying for a license or ID card."
Beginning Oct. 1, 2020, the feds will not allow Michigan residents carrying a driver's license or ID card that does not comply with the REAL ID Act to board domestic flights, enter federal buildings, nuclear plants or military bases unless they have another accepted identity document.
A REAL-ID features a gold star in the upper right-hand corner or an American flag on Michigan Enhanced driver's licenses.
If you have an enhanced license or state ID card, you already have a REAL ID-compliant card.
GRADUATED DRIVER'S LICENSE SYSTEM
If there was any class in High School that I got an "A" in was driver's training. I wanted to make sure that I got my license.
In those days, you didn't have to take an outside course and spend hundreds of dollars. A semester in school is all it took. Unfortunately, this is no longer the case.
Several years back, the state also went to a Graduated License System which now has three levels. Here are the three definitions:
• Level 1 (Learner's Permit): The applicant must be at least 14 years and 9 months old. You must pass a written exam and applicants must have successfully completed Segment 1 of an approved driver education program and present the Certificate of Completion.
A Level 1 Learner's License requires that holders may only drive with a licensed parent, guardian, or designated licensed adult, age 21 or older. During this time, the permit holder must complete 50 hours of behind-the-wheel practice driving with their supervising licensed driver, ten of which must be at night.
• Level 2 (Intermediate Permit): To apply for a Level 2 License, drivers must have held a Level 1 Learner's License for at least six months, must be at least 16 years old and have completed the 50 hours listed above. The applicant will also need to pass a Driving Skills test. While holding the Intermediate License, the following driving restrictions apply:
• Drivers are prohibited from operating vehicles between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. unless driving to or from work, or driving to or from an authorized activity. Driving with a parent, legal guardian, or a licensed driver 21 years of age or older, as designated by the parent or guardian, is also permitted.
• Drivers are prohibited from operating a vehicle at any time with more than one passenger under 21 years old unless the passenger(s) is an immediate family member, it is to, from or in the course of employment, while doing an authorized activity or accompanied by a designated supervising driver.
• Level 3 (Full License): After holding a Level 2 License for at least six months, 17-years-olds are eligible for the Level 3 Full License. At this point, the teen must complete 12 consecutive months without a moving violation, an accident, an accident in which a moving violation resulted, a license suspension, or a violation of the graduated license restriction. The Graduated Driver License program ends once the driver turns 18.
There is also a provision to obtain a full license when you are 18, but have not gone through the graduated level process. You will need to pass a written knowledge and driving skills test. A Temporary Instruction Permit (TIP) will be required to take the driving skills test.
A TIP allows you to practice driving with a licensed adult for up to 180 days. After you practice driving with a licensed adult for at least 30 days before you are eligible to take the driving skills test
HELPFUL TIPS FOR WHEN GETTING PULLED OVER
• Slow down and pull to the right, or onto a side street.
• If you feel unsafe or suspect it's not really the police, turn on your emergency flashers and continue slowly to a well-lit location like a gas station. If still unsure, dial 9-1-1 to get confirmation.
• If stopped at night, turn on the dome light.
• Spotlights and flashlights are used to illuminate the scene for everyone's safety, not to intimidate you.
• Do not exit your vehicle, but wait for the officer.
• Keeping your hands visible, such as on the steering wheel, is best.
• If you have passengers, tell them to sit quietly with their hands visible.
• Communicate your actions to the officer so that he/she knows what you are doing.
• You must provide your driver's license, registration, and insurance, if requested by the officer.
• If your documents are out of reach, tell the officer where they are before you reach for them.
• After supplying these documents is the time to ask why you were stopped if the officer has not already told you; you may certainly ask the officer for more information at this time.
• If asked to exit your vehicle, follow the officer's instructions.
• If issued a ticket, there is a legal process to challenge the ticket if you choose; debating the ticket on the roadside will not achieve results.
• A ticket does not make you guilty of anything.
• You have a right to a hearing in Court and the ticket contains information on how to exercise that right.
• Your car can be searched with your consent or if the officer has probable cause to believe that there is evidence of a crime in the car.
• Be aware that officers are trained to be on high alert for their safety in traffic stop situations because so many officers have been harmed while on traffic stops.
• Notify the officer if you have a CPL or a weapon in the vehicle.
This information is provided to you for clarification of specific laws, and not legal advice. This is not to be construed as a personal opinion, agreement or disagreement of any specific law. If you have any questions on any specific topic, you can always email me your questions to email@example.com.