What are Michigan Public Traffic Records?
In Michigan, public traffic records are formal documents containing comprehensive data of a person's driving history. These documents include traffic history, offenses, convictions, moving violations, tickets for civil infractions, sentences, license suspension or revocation records, driving points received, etc. Different government entities generate and maintain public traffic records in the state. For instance, all driving records are preserved and maintained by the Michigan Department of State (DOS), allowing authorized parties access to these documents.
Are Traffic Records Public in Michigan?
Yes. Traffic records are public information in Michigan, thanks to the Michigan Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) enacted in 1977. The statute allows the general public access to all government information and records. It means that Michigan's public records kept by government agencies, bureaus, councils, divisions, and commissions are publicly accessible.
Michigan Court Rule 8.119(E) makes a case in favor of public access to court records. It provides that the records will be publicly available unless a file, document, or information within that record is restricted or sealed by a court ruling or statute. A person may request their own or another person's driving and vehicle records.
However, there are exceptions to the Michigan FOIA. These include private information about an individual and documents that could compromise open investigations. Others are trade secrets, test questions, medical files, information subject to attorney-client privilege, etc. Michigan's District Courts handle traffic violation cases, misdemeanors, and preliminary hearings for felonies, and the Circuit Court is responsible for felonies.
What Do Michigan Driving Records Contain?
A driving record may contain different information based on the driver's history. The typical Michigan Driving Records (MDR) has three sections:
- The Driver's License Header: The driver's license header is the first thing that appears on the MDR. The header displays a person's full name, driver's license number, demographic information (sex, eye color, height, & weight), date of birth, mailing address, residential address, etc. Other information contained in the header includes issuance and medical restrictions, previous names and driver's license numbers, medical certification information, etc.
- The Status: Status comes next, just after the header information. It displays the individual's current standing and any active actions impacting them.
- Driving History or Body: The driving history or body appears immediately below the status section on an MDR. It shows traffic violation convictions, permits, restrictions and revocations, actions for suspensions, traffic crashes, any failures to appear in Court (FAC), Failures to Comply with Judgment (FCJ), etc.
Does a Citation Go on Your Record in Michigan?
A citation is a legal notice to a person charged with a (usually minor) traffic violation. Depending on its severity, it may be for a civil infraction or a misdemeanor. When a traffic violation is non-criminal, it is called a civil infraction. Civil infractions neither carry jail terms nor go on a person's criminal record. However, the Michigan DMV might add the points accrued for a civil violation to the offender's driving record. According to the Office of The Secretary of State (SOS), points range from two-point offenses to six-point offenses.
Some Two-Point Traffic Violations include:
- Having an open alcohol container in a vehicle.
- Any other moving violations without specified traffic points.
- A driver under 21 years refusing to take a Preliminary Breath Test (PBT).
Some Three-Point Traffic Violations
- Careless driving.
- Flouting a traffic signal or stop sign.
- Improper passing.
- Driving over the legal speed limit by 11 through 15 mph.
- Refusing to stop at a railroad crossing.
- Refusal to stop for a school bus or disobedience to a school crossing guard, etc.
Some Four-Point Traffic Violations include:
- Drag racing.
- Operating a vehicle while visibly impaired.
- Driving a car with any bodily alcohol content for persons under age 21.
- Driving a vehicle at16 mph or more over the legal speed limit.
- Failure to yield or to show due caution for emergency vehicles
Some Six-Point Traffic Violations include:
- Use of motor vehicle to cause manslaughter, negligent homicide, or other felonies.
- Driving under the influence of liquor or drugs (OUI).
- Failure to stop and present identification at the scene of a crash.
- Reckless driving.
- Unlawful bodily alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08 or more.
- Refusal to take a chemical test.
- Eluding or fleeing a law enforcement officer, etc.
On the other hand, a criminal traffic violation goes on an individual's driving record, in addition to driving points, fines, possible jail terms, and probation.
Types of Traffic Citations in Michigan
When motorists breach the traffic laws of a state or community, they are issued traffic citations. In Michigan, traffic citations are typically issued for two classes of violations under Michigan's Department of State offense code index:
- Moving violations.
- Non-moving violations.
A moving violation attracts major traffic citation when a vehicle in motion violates traffic law. Common examples include running a stop sign or red light, speeding, and drunk driving.
Non-moving violations attract minor traffic citations and include parking and driving violations like speeding. Traffic and Parking Civil infractions are not severe enough to be classified as crimes but severe enough to earn sanctions excluding jail. Most times, minor traffic citations lead to traffic school sanctions. Depending on the violation and its resolution, a person may be fined, referred to a driving program, lose their license, or sent to jail in severe cases.
Michigan Traffic Citation Lookup
Michigan traffic citations can be looked up through the courts or the Michigan DMV office. An interested party may visit the appropriate superior Court's website to look up traffic citations or tickets in Michigan. These websites contain online search portals or tools that requesters can use to look up traffic tickets. Interested parties may conduct searches using the defendant's last name and ticket number for a fee.
Alternatively, requestors may find outstanding traffic tickets by contacting the state's DMV or licensing department. A person issued a traffic ticket for a civil infraction has three options.
- Admit responsibility without explanation, and pay the applicable fine and cost. Then the case is closed.
- Admit responsibility with an explanation.
- Deny responsibility and request an informal or formal hearing in person, by mail, email, or phone.
When a person admits responsibility, they may pay through certified checks or money orders payable to the District Court. If the Court provides an online payment option, the defendant may use that. However, it is essential to pay any traffic citation entirely and within the allowable time frame.
How to Lookup my Michigan Traffic Records
Some public records are available online. Others require persons to make a formal request from the specific agency concerned. In a situation requiring that a formal request be made, the requester may do it via email, mail, or phone to the record-holding department.
There are four ways by which someone can access their driving record in the state of Michigan: in person, by mail, over the phone, and by fax.
To request in-person, the requester may go to any Michigan DOS office location with their driver's license and a form of payment. The requester will print and fill out the Michigan Department of State – Requesting Your Record form to submit a request for records through the mail. After filling it, they can mail the completed form together with payment to the DOS at the following address: Michigan Department of State, Record Lookup Unit, 7064 Crowner Drive, Lansing, MI 48918-1502.
To submit a request over the phone, call the Department Of State Record Lookup Unit at (517) 322-1624. The requester must also have a form of payment and an accurate address on file with the Michigan DOS. To request via fax, fax the completed forms to the DOS at (517) 322-1181. Processing time may take up to eight weeks.
Michigan Traffic Violations
There are various kinds of traffic violations in Michigan. Some of the most common include speeding, running a red light, and failure to yield. Depending on the severity of the violation, the offender may be subject to a fine, points on their license, or even jail time.
Speeding is one of the most common traffic violations in Michigan. The state has a maximum speed limit of 70 miles per hour (mph) on interstate highways and 55 mph on other roads. However, there are some areas where the speed limit is lower, such as school zones or construction zones. If a person is caught speeding, they may be subject to a fine and points on their license.
In Michigan, running a red light is also a common traffic violation. This occurs when a driver fails to stop at a red light or stop sign.
Failure to yield is another common traffic violation. This happens when a driver does not yield the right of way to another vehicle or pedestrian.
Depending on the severity of the violation, offenders may be subject to varying penalties. For example, speeding in a school zone could result in a much higher fine than speeding in a construction zone. Additionally, running a red light could result in points on your license, while failure to yield may only result in a fine.
If cited for a traffic violation, offenders will typically have the option to pay the fine or contest the citation in court. If they opt to contest the citation, they will need to appear in court and present their case to a judge. Depending on the hearing outcome, they may be found guilty and required to pay the fine, or their case may be dismissed.
Where a motorist is convicted of a traffic violation, they may be required to pay a fine or have points added to their license. The amount of the fine or points added will vary depending on the severity of the violation.
Michigan License Plate Lookup
It is important to have the license plate number and the state where the vehicle is registered when performing a license plate lookup. The license plate number can be found on the front or rear of a vehicle, and it is usually displayed in large characters. The state's abbreviation can be found on the license plate sticker.
The Michigan Department of State can be contacted by phone or online. The online service is available 24 hours a day, and it can be used to lookup license plates in Michigan or other states. The Michigan Department of State also offers a free searchable database of registered vehicles in Michigan.
Online databases are searchable by license plate number or name. Most databases are subscription-based services, and a fee is charged for each search. The fee is usually waived if the person providing the information is a law enforcement officer or member of the media.
How to View Traffic Case Records for Free in Michigan
In every state, courts maintain official records of all cases in different formats. To view a traffic court record in Michigan, the requester should contact the Traffic Division of the Superior Court in the county where the case was heard or where the traffic offense took place. On The Michigan Courts website, there is a case, opinions, and orders search box. Using this search box, interested persons may find case records using the case number and appellate Court. Alternatively, a requesting party may visit the courthouse in person to view paper or electronic records.
How Long do Traffic Offenses Remain on Public Records in Michigan?
How long a traffic offense will remain on a public record in Michigan depends on the offense type, nature, and severity. Misdemeanors are typically expunged seven years after sentencing. Felonies are cleared ten years after sentencing or upon the person's release from incarceration, whichever comes last. If any new convictions arise during the waiting period, the person waives this right.
Even after deleting a traffic sentence from a person's criminal record, that entry will remain on the person's primary driving record. Recently, The Michigan Expungement statute, also called the Set Aside Conviction statute (MCL 780.621), was amended to allow traffic misdemeanor convictions to be set aside or expunged. However, not all traffic offenses are expungable. Traffic offenses that cannot be expunged include:
- A DUI conviction (also called Operating While Intoxicated OWI).
- Traffic incidents that led to injury or death.
- Traffic crimes committed in a commercial vehicle.
Recently, the Michigan government introduced the clean slate law. This new law will automatically delete or seal certain non-violent conviction records for offenders who have remained conviction-free for a while. Up to 2 felony convictions will automatically be expunged ten years after sentencing or the person's release from custody. Up to 4 misdemeanors will automatically be expunged seven years after sentencing.
How to Remove Traffic Records from Public Websites in Michigan
Per Michigan's Public Records Act, records generated by government agencies, including traffic records, are publicly accessible. These records are often available on government websites and databases on public websites created by data brokerage firms.
Anyone interested in removing a conviction from public websites may petition the Court to seal or expunge the record. Michigan State laws allow for sealing some arrest records in cases where the subject was not charged or convicted of any offense. Typically, sealed or expunged records are not accessible to the public.
The conditions to set aside a conviction are dependent on the number of convictions the person has, the type of conviction, and when the person was convicted. If a person is charged with a crime or gets a new conviction while waiting to apply to have another sentencing set aside, it will affect their application. Since a judge must decide that setting aside a sentence is consistent with public welfare, any new criminal activity could influence the judge's decision.
Hence, a judge will not set aside punishment for a person who gets a recent conviction during the waiting period. The waiting period will depend on the kind of conviction and the number of convictions the person has. The waiting period for multiple felonies is seven years, five years for one felony, five years for one or more serious misdemeanors, three years for one or more non-serious, and three years for non-assaultive misdemeanors.
Do Motoring Offenses Affect Criminal Records in Michigan?
Yes. Traffic or motoring offenses affect criminal records in Michigan. Although civil infraction offenses are not penalized with jail sentences, they add driving points to the defendant's driving records, even though these points do not reflect on criminal records. Traffic Misdemeanors or felonies, on the other hand, appear on the offender's driving record and criminal history records, including their background checks, driving record, and public records.