Michigan No Texting While Driving Law – What Does This Really Mean?

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I like reading posts on this website this is my first.

Like everyone else I know from Michigan to California where I was born I text message and email from my cell phone while I drive.  I know it’s not safe for everyone to be doing this but honestly I am so good at it I don’t even take my eyes from the road.  It’s no different than changing the radio station to me.  What does this new law really mean?  Something is going on here.  I have read people talk about it and say the basics like using a cell phone to send text messages or e-mail while driving will be illegal in Michigan starting July 1st 2010 and that fines will be $100 for a first offense and $200 for each offense after that…but what about using my navigation system in my car?  Does it come with points on your driving record at secretary of state?  My Lincoln MKS allows me to have texts come through the GPS sync system on the screen and actually be read to me by the computer is that illegal now too?  Will auto makers have to change their computers in all these newer vehicles because it’s illegal to use the text feature now?   Seems like a big mess to me, and just another excuse for cops to pull people over because they say they’re texting.  Which brings me to another question, how will they prove it?  Will police confiscate your cell phone as evidence.  This seems like a sloppy law to enforce.

Seems like Michigan is putting a lot of effort into a very confusing law so I was wondering what your attorneys think about this at www.alllegalmatters.com?

Comments

  1. Peter A. Torrice on April 28, 2010 at 11:23 pm said:

    Great question.

    Canu Torrice Law and its lawyers will keep you posted as to the status of this proposed new Michigan legislation which makes illegal texting or emailing while driving (beware fellow Crackberry addicts). Our Michigan traffic and criminal defense law firm is on top of every new law before it ever takes effect, like the Michigan “super drunk” driving law that will go into effect later this year (see our previous posts on this blog).

    As with all statutes, we begin analyzing the plain language, applying the words used in their ordinary, everyday sense, unless a specific definition is provided by the legislature.

    The proposed Michigan no texting while driving bill currently states as follows:
    _________________________________________________________________________
    SENATE SUBSTITUTE FOR HOUSE BILL NO. 4394

    A bill to amend 1949 PA 300, entitled “Michigan vehicle code,”(MCL 257.1 to 257.923) by adding section 602b.

    THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF MICHIGAN ENACT

    Sec. 602b. (1) Except as otherwise provided in this section, a person shall not read, manually type, or send a text message on a wireless 2-way communication device that is located in the person’s hand or in the person’s lap, including a wireless telephone used in cellular telephone service or personal communication service, while operating a motor vehicle that is moving on a highway or street in this state. As used in this subsection, a wireless 2-way communication device does not include a global positioning or House Bill No. 4394 as amended March 25, 2010 navigation system that is affixed to the motor vehicle.

    (2) Subsection (1) does not apply to an individual who is using a device described in subsection (1) to do any of the following:

    (a) Report a traffic accident, medical emergency, or serious road hazard.

    (b) Report a situation in which the person believes his or her personal safety is in jeopardy.

    (c) Report or avert the perpetration or potential perpetration of a criminal act against the individual or another person.

    (d) Carry out official duties as a police officer, law enforcement official, member of a paid or volunteer fire department, or operator of an emergency vehicle

    (3) An individual who violates this section is responsible for a civil infraction and shall be ordered to pay a civil fine as follows:

    (a) For a first violation, $100.00.

    (b) For a second or subsequent violation, $200.00.

    (4) This section supersedes all local ordinances regulating the use of a communications device while operating a motor vehicle in motion on a highway or street, except that a unit of local government may adopt an ordinance or enforce an existing ordinance substantially corresponding to this section.

    Enacting section 1. This amendatory act takes effect July 1, 2010.
    _________________________________________________________________________

    So first, to answer your question about your MKS Navigation system, the proposed Michgan no texting while driving law in its current form does not include the use of you Lincoln navigation or text system, or so it seems. Further, although it appears texting while driving in Michigan will not carry any “points” on your record with the Michigan Secretary of State, it must be “abstractable” meaning that it goes on your driving record, otherwise it would be impossible for Michigan police officer’s to cite a driver for texting while driving “2nd offense.” THIS MEANS THAT YOUR AUTO INSURANCE COMPANY WILL SEE THIS INFRACTION AND YOUR INSURANCE RATES WILL INCREASE IF YOU ARE GIVEN A TICKET FOR TEXTING WHILE DRIVING IN MICHIGAN!

    However, to answer your main question, what this means is that the door has been opened for police, state troopers, county sheriff and all law enforcement officers to use the new proposed Michigan no texting/emailing while driving law as an excuse to pull you over as a pretext to see if your are drunk driving (OWI/DUI), or doing anything else illegal like smoking marijuana while in your car, or anything else. It is in our opinion that this is a very slippery slope to a pretextual stop which violates your Constitutional rights to be free from warrantless and unreasonable searches and seizures in violation of the 4th Amendement to the United States Constitution. It is an excuse for a cop to pull you over because he “thought” you were texting, and then arrest you for something totally unrelated to the original stop.

    Canu Torrice Law attorneys are already prepared to combat this potential no texting while driving law in Michigan which will give rise to the abuse of police power by issuing subpoenas for your cell phone records, if necesary, to show that you were not texting or emailing at the time you were stopped in Michigan for this alleged traffic offense, and then seek a dismissal of any drunk driving/OWI/DUI that results from this pretextual stop. We will aggressively seek a dismissal of any subsequent charges that arise from bogus “texting while driving” searches, and all in all, we will relentlessly challenge this overly broad law if it is passed in Michigan.

    If this law passed, and you are charged for texting or emailing while driving in Michigan, contact Canu Torrice Law immediately and we will begin the aggressive defense of your case.

    PETER A. TORRICE
    Canu Torrice Law
    http://www.AllLegalMatters.com
    (586) 285-1700

  2. Peter A. Torrice on May 6, 2010 at 3:57 pm said:

    Well the proposed no texting while driving legislation in Michigan has been signed into law by Governor Granholm on April 30, 2010 on the Oprah Winfrey Show.

    The new law reads as follows:
    _____________________________________________________________________
    April 30, 2010

    EFFECTIVE DATE: July 1, 2010

    STATE OF MICHIGAN

    The People of the State of Michigan enact:

    Sec. 602b. (1) Except as otherwise provided in this section, a person shall not read, manually type, or send a text message on a wireless 2-way communication device that is located in the person’s hand or in the person’s lap, including a wireless telephone used in cellular telephone service or personal communication service, while operating a motor vehicle that is moving on a highway or street in this state. As used in this subsection, a wireless 2-way communication device does not include a global positioning or navigation system that is affixed to the motor vehicle.

    (2) Subsection (1) does not apply to an individual who is using a device described in subsection (1) to do any of the following:

    (a) Report a traffic accident, medical emergency, or serious road hazard.

    (b) Report a situation in which the person believes his or her personal safety is in jeopardy.

    (c) Report or avert the perpetration or potential perpetration of a criminal act against the individual or another person.

    (d) Carry out official duties as a police officer, law enforcement official, member of a paid or volunteer fire department, or operator of an emergency vehicle.

    (3) An individual who violates this section is responsible for a civil infraction and shall be ordered to pay a civil fine as follows:

    (a) For a first violation, $100.00.

    (b) For a second or subsequent violation, $200.00.

    (4) This section supersedes all local ordinances regulating the use of a communications device while operating a motor vehicle in motion on a highway or street, except that a unit of local government may adopt an ordinance or enforce an existing ordinance substantially corresponding to this section.

    ________________________________________________________________________

    So, as previously discussed in this blog, this civil infraction for no texting / emailing while driving in Michigan WILL go on your Michigan driving record. Logically a no texting while driving ticket has to be abtracted to your Michigan driver’s license, otherwise officers will have no idea whether to charge someone with a “second offense.”

    This means your insurance rates will go up if you simply pay for a not texting while driving ticket in Michigan. Therefore, if you get a no texting while driving ticket in Michigan you should treat this no differently than a speeding ticket or any other traffic ticket because IT WILL GO ON YOUR DRIVING RECORD IF YOU JUST PAY THE FINE! It is irrelevant that it’s a “zero” point ticket because trust me, your auto insurance will no treat it as zero points.

    Our Michigan lawyers are here to help fight no texting while driving offenses in Michigan. If you receive a no texting while driving ticket in Michigan, contact the attorneys at our law firm, Canu Torrice Law, and we will fight to keep this off your Michigan driving record.

    PETER A. TORRICE
    Canu Torrice Law
    http://www.AllLegalMatters.com
    (586) 285-1700

  3. The Crazy Mick on July 25, 2010 at 3:48 pm said:

    Officers cannot obtain a search warrant or an investigative subpoena solely for a violation of MCL 257.602b because a violation is a civil infraction. Officers may seek to obtain consent from an individual to examine his or her 2-way communication device; however, absent consent, officers may not lawfully seize an individual’s device and examine the contents.

  4. Peter A. Torrice on July 25, 2010 at 6:46 pm said:

    @The Crazy Mick
    That is correct. However, under the new Michigan law if an officer has a reasonable suspicion of texting while driving, he/she may conduct a traffic stop (pull you over) and issue you a ticket for texting while driving based on their observations alone…they do not need to seize the cell phone, and law enforcement certainly does not have enough time to seek a warrant (not a subpoena). You are correct in your statement that you are not required to hand over your cell phone – you should respectfully decline this request.

    Like all traffic ticket cases in Michigan, the burden of proof for a civil infraction like texting and driving is only a “preponderance of the evidence,” not “beyond a reasonable doubt” like criminal cases. This is basically a “more likely than not standard, or a 51% certainty). Also, remember with traffic tickets you are not entitled to a jury trial, it is determined by a hearing (an “informal hearing” if you are unrepresented by counsel, or a “formal hearing” if you have a lawyer) before the magistrate or judge, and furthermore the rules of evidence do not apply. Therefore, courts will typically defer to the officer’s testimony and alleged observations when making a determination of whether you are “responsible” for the offense. So, basically unless you can prove with pretty convincing evidence that you are “not responsible” of this offense, your word generally doesn’t count for much vs. the police officer…which is why you would need to bolster your defense against a texing while driving ticket with proof that you were not texting, e-mailing, etc. at the time you were stopped. Our attorneys may be able to obtain this information through the issuance of subpoenas, if necessary. Otherwise, if the officer says he believed that you were texting and that’s why he gave you the ticket, and you say you weren’t texting, don’t be shocked when the court takes the cop’s word over yours at a hearing, every single time.

    The real problem cuts deeper than the mere issuance of a traffic ticket for violation of the Michigan no texting while driving law though. If an officer claims they had a “reasonable suspicion” that you were texting and driving in Michigan, they can use this as an excuse to stop you and “investigate,” like for example late at night, and then they can use their suspicion of texting and driving as a pretext to see if you are doing something else, like, oh, let’s say . . . drinking and driving, or engaging in some other sort of illegal activity. This is the reason there is a large potential for abuse with this law. Being free from warrentless searches and seizures of our person and property, like our motor vehicles, is a Consitutional right. We have allowed the Michigan legislature to open the door for violations of our 4th Amendment rights with the texing while driving law, because it lends itself to subjective application by overzealous law enforcement.

    Unlike speeding, failing to use a turn signal, disregarding a red light, or other such traffic offenses that, texting while driving is largely a judgment call, and the attorneys at Canu Torrice Law do not approve of having our client’s Constitutional rights potentially violated because someone “thought” you were doing something wrong.

    If you are charged under Michigan’s no texting while driving law, or if you are arrested for OWI / DUI / drunk driving in Michigan as a result of being stopped by police for a suspicion of texting while driving, you should contact the defense attorneys at Canu Torrice Law immediately for legal representation. We will not tolerate any violation of your Constitutional rights, and neither should you.

    PETER A. TORRICE
    Canu Torrice Law
    http://www.AllLegalMatters.com
    32059 Utica Road
    Fraser, MI 48026
    (586) 285-1700

    • Peter A. Torrice on August 23, 2010 at 3:17 pm said:

      As the defense attorneys at & Torrice, PLLC / Canu Torrice Law cautioned all Michigan driver’s on our http://www.AllLegalMatters blogs several months ago, despite the general representation to the public that a “no emailing / texting while driving” ticket in Michigan is just a zero (0) point offense with only a $100 fine, there are hidden penalties and severe financial consequences associated with such tickets because it will be abstracted to your driving record.

      Our insight into this new and confusing traffic law caught the attention of local Channel 7 news reporters in Michigan, who featured a segment with PETER A. TORRICE from this law firm about the hidden penalties contained in Michigan’s no text messaging while driving law.

      Until now, the Michigan criminal and traffic defense lawyers at Canu Torrice Law could only speculate how insurance companies would treat this type of traffic ticket for emailing or texting and driving in Michigan. We were correct in our concern over the effects of this new

      Canu Torrice Law has been provided with a copy of a confidential memo from Citizen’s Insurance Company to their respective insurance agents in Michigan that reads as follows:

      Texting/Emailing While Driving – Effective 9/1/10

      Drivers ticketed for texting or emailing while driving will be assessed the same surcharge as a careless driving incident.This is effective 9/1/2010. For existing policies, the violation will be added at the next renewal. The violation will remain on the policy for 3 years.

      Although this memo is just from one insurance carrier, there is no doubt that all major insurance companies will follow suit by implementing similar policies in order to radically increase your insurance rates.

      Careless Driving in Michigan is a 3 point civil infraction and is one of the most severe civil infraction traffic tickets (non-criminal) that a police officer can issue. As evidenced by this memo, this allegedly harmless 0 point offense for emailing or texting while driving will actually be treated like a 3 point Careless Driving ticket by insurance companies, who will use this to drastically increase your insurance rates for 3 years! It is unremarkable that insurance companies and insurance lobbies were such strong supporters of this new legislation.

      This is just further proof that if you are issued a traffic ticket in Michigan for emailing or texting while driving from your cell phone, it will cost you FAR more than the $100 fine for a 1st offense, unless you retain the services of a qualified defense attorney to fight these charges or negotiate a plea on your behalf. We strongly encourage you to contact Canu Torrice Law immediately if you are issued such a citation and not to merely pay this ticket, otherwise that $100 you think you are spending on the violation may have another “0” added to the end of the dollar amount you think it will cost you. Do not give the insurance companies more of your hard earned dollars by being misled to believe this is just a traffic ticket with a fine and no points; it will clearly have far more of an impact on your wallet than you were led to believe.

      & Torrice, PLLC / Canu Torrice Law

      http://www.AllLegalMatters.com

      (586) 285-1700

  5. Jayrin on August 23, 2010 at 3:21 pm said:

    Hey on this Michigan lawyers blog it says that a text ande drive charge in michigan does not go on your driving record? What’s up with that?

    http://www.michiganautolaw.com/auto-lawyers-blog/2010/07/13/new-texting-while-driving-ban-in-michigan-%E2%80%93-your-questions-answered/

  6. Peter A. Torrice on August 23, 2010 at 3:40 pm said:

    @Jayrin

    What’s up is that whoever wrote that has either been misread the Michigan texting while driving law or was not keen enough to read the plain language of the statute for the Michigan no e-mailing / no text messaging while driving law.

    If it does not go on your master driving record with the Michigan Secretary of State, how can there be a “second offense” penalty because law enforcement and the State of Michigan would know you ever got a prior offense if it was not no your driving record, right? Bottom line is whoever wrote that is wrong, or it was written before the final law as it is currently written went into effect.

    As evidenced by the memo from Citizens Insurance Company above, clearly this type of ticket for emailing or texting and driving goes on your Michigan driving record.

    PETER A. TORRICE
    Canu Torrice Law
    http://www.AllLegalMatters.com
    (586) 285-1700

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