SHERIFF'S CORNER: Whip lights and random Michigan laws

Lake County Sheriff Rich Martin

Lake County Sheriff Rich Martin

Courtesy photo

The question was asked on the legality of attaching and/or operating whip lights on an ORV. These are those multi-colored stick lights that some riders have been mounting to their side-by-sides while riding the trails or the roadway.

I did address this on the Lake County Sheriff's Office Facebook page, but I do not believe I ever covered it with my paper article. Here is my response:

The MVC (Michigan Motor Vehicle Code) was written long before LED lights were made or available as they are now. At face value, when dealing with any extra light(s) that is not from the factory when the machine was built, is not legal when operating an ORV on the roadway that is open to ORV's.

Technically, by simply possessing these lights, that have an option to flash, even though they are not flashing, would be in violation since the option is there for them to flash.

MCL 257.698 states:

"...(5) The use or possession of flashing, oscillating, or rotating lights of any color is prohibited except as otherwise provided by law..."

Is this something that we usually enforce, as in the sole possession, probably not. If they are on, probably yes.

So, let's not think about that issue for a moment and just address the red or amber steady burn on the whip lights.

"...(4) Unless both covered and unlit, a vehicle operated on the highways of this state shall not be equipped with a lamp or a part designed to be a reflector unless expressly required or permitted by this chapter or that meets the standards prescribed in 49 CFR 571.108. A lamp or a part designed to be a reflector, if visible from the front, shall display or reflect a white or amber light; if visible from either side, shall display or reflect an amber or red light; and if visible from the rear, shall display or reflect a red light, except as otherwise provided by law..."

An amber light can only be steady burn from the front or side of the vehicle, and from the rear only if it is on a switch that is flashing when used as a turn signal. So, the steady burn amber would not be acceptable since you can see it from the rear.

A steady burn red light can only be used at the rear of the vehicle. Since the whip lights can be seen from the front of the vehicle, then it would be in violation. For argument's sake, if you had short stubby red whip lights that are only seen from the rear, then I can see where that may be legal, however that could be open to interpretation.

On the trail, we have usually relaxed this, however trails can still be considered the same as public roadways. What has happened, some individuals have been taking this to an extreme with flashing lightbars that can be confused with emergency vehicles. So, will this be enforced on the trail as on the road, quite possibly.

I personally don't have issues with the whip lights on the trail, with a steady burn, and would generally not enforce this regulation but that may change depending on how the ORV riders push the envelope.


In the edition of the "Sheriff's Corner," I give you Random Laws, Volume IV.

MCL 409.103: Employment of minor; prohibited occupations; minimum age; exceptions and limitations.

(1) A minor shall not be employed in, about, or in connection with an occupation that is hazardous or injurious to the minor's health or personal well-being or that is contrary to standards established under this act, unless a deviation is granted under section 20.

(2) The minimum age for employment of minors is 14 years, subject to the following exceptions and limitations:

  • (a) A minor at least 11 years of age and less than 14 years of age may be employed as a youth athletic program referee or umpire for an age bracket younger than his or her own age if an adult representing the athletic program is on the premises at which the athletic program event is occurring and a person responsible for the athletic program possesses a written acknowledgment of the minor's parent or guardian consenting to the minor's employment as a referee or umpire.
  • (b) A minor 11 years of age or older may be employed as a golf caddy.
  • (c) A minor 13 years of age or older may be employed in farming operations as described in section 4(3).
  • (d) A minor 11 years of age or older may be employed as a bridge caddy at any event sanctioned by the American contract bridge league or other national bridge league association.
  • (e) A minor 13 years of age or older may be employed to perform services which entail setting traps for formal or informal trap, skeet, and sporting clays shooting events.

MCL 554.634: Rental agreement; mandatory statements.

(1) A rental agreement shall state the name and address at which notice required under this act shall be given to the lessor.

(2) A rental agreement shall state in a prominent place in type not smaller than the size of 12-point type, or in legible print with letters not smaller than one-eight inch, a notice in substantially the following form:

"NOTICE: Michigan law establishes rights and obligations for parties to rental agreements. This agreement is required to comply with the Truth in Renting Act. If you have a question about the interpretation or legality of a provision of this agreement, you may want to seek assistance from a lawyer or other qualified person."

MCR 600.8401: Small claims division; creation; judge; jurisdiction; increase in claim amounts.

 A small claims division is created in each district as a division of the district court. A judge of the district court shall sit as judge of the small claims division. The jurisdiction of the small claims division shall be confined to cases for the recovery of money in which the amount claimed does not exceed the following:

  • (a) Beginning September 1, 2012, $5,000.00.
  • (b) Beginning January 1, 2015, $5,500.00.
  • (c) Beginning January 1, 2018, $6,000.00.
  • (d) Beginning January 1, 2021, $6,500.00
  • (e) Beginning January 1, 2024, $7,000.00.

MCL 722.623: Individual required to report child abuse or neglect. 

(1) An individual is required to report under this act as follows:

(a) A physician, dentist, physician's assistant, registered dental hygienist, medical examiner, nurse, person licensed to provide emergency medical care, audiologist, psychologist, physical therapist, physical therapist assistant, occupational therapist, athletic trainer, marriage and family therapist, licensed professional counselor, social worker, licensed master's social worker, licensed bachelor's social worker, registered social service technician, social service technician, a person employed in a professional capacity in any office of the friend of the court, school administrator, school counselor or teacher, law enforcement officer, member of the clergy, or regulated child care provider who has reasonable cause to suspect child abuse or child neglect shall make an immediate report to centralized intake by telephone, or, if available, through the online reporting system, of the suspected child abuse or child neglect.

MCL 400.289: Owning or operating clothing donation box; requirements; exemption.

(1) Subject to subsection (2), a person that owns or operates a clothing donation box or that receives any of the personal property placed in a clothing donation box or proceeds of that personal property shall not do any of the following:

  • (a) Fail or neglect to maintain a current license under this act at any time the clothing donation box is accessible to the public.
  • (b) Mark the clothing donation box or any sign near the clothing donation box in any manner that represents or implies that personal property placed in the clothing donation box, or the proceeds of that personal property, is donated to 1 or more charitable organizations if it is not.
  • (c) Display the name, logo, trademark, or service mark of a charitable organization on a clothing donation box or on any sign near the clothing donation box if that charitable organization does not receive any of the personal property placed in the clothing donation box or any of the proceeds of that personal property.
  • (d) If charitable organizations receive some but not all of the personal property placed in the clothing donation box or the proceeds of that personal property, fail or neglect to clearly and conspicuously disclose on the donation box or on a sign at the donation box the name, address, and telephone number of each charitable organization that receives any of that property or those proceeds and the name, address, and telephone number of any other person that receives any of that property or those proceeds.

(2) Subsection (1) does not apply to any person that is exempt from the licensing and financial statement requirements of this act under section 13.

— This information is provided to you for clarification on specific laws, and not legal advice. This is not to be construed as a personal opinion, agreement or disagreement of any specific law. Topics covered are for educational and informational purposes only. As needed, excerpts from other articles are used for reference and/or content. If you have any questions on any specific topic, you may always email me your questions to