Let’s dive deeper into the car insurance and driving laws in the Great Lakes state.
Michigan is a no-fault state, and a unique one at that. While in all no-fault states, each party pays for its own medical expenses, in Michigan, the state covers them entirely, along with lost wages and $20 daily in replacement services, in some cases. That means that if you get into a car accident and have bodily injuries, the state will always pay for them, even if the accident was your fault.
That being said, the at-fault party will still be responsible for the other party’s property damage, and the accident victim can still sue the perpetrator for a recovery (given they meet the serious injury threshold, detailed below). The state of Michigan has modified comparative negligence laws. In English, that means that the victim can only recover money if they’re less than 50 percent at fault2.
Aside from having the second highest car insurance prices in the country, Michigan also comes in second for the highest percentage of uninsured motorists (the two are definitely connected). A whopping 26 percent of Michigan drivers are uninsured, the Insurance Research Council estimated last in 20193. So where does the state land regarding uninsured motorist coverage?
While Michigan requires that insurance companies offer uninsured motorist coverage, it’s not a requirement. Plus, Michigan is an “unstacked” state, which means that the number of cars on your policy won’t affect your uninsured motorist limits. In other words, you can’t “stack” coverage.
Michigan takes DUIs seriously, as they’ll stay on your record for seven years. For the first offense, you’ll get a 30 to 180-day license suspension, with limited driving privileges after 45 days. If your blood alcohol concentration is 0.17 or higher or if you have repeat convictions, you’ll need to install a DUI interlock device for a year.
Michigan has a mandatory seat belt law for those over the age of 16 and in the front seat. The law is under primary enforcement, so the police can pull you over for not wearing a seat belt solely.
In Michigan, you can make calls on a handheld electronic device unless you’re a:
- Truck driver
- School bus driver
- Teen driver with either a level one or two graduated licensing status
However, texting and driving is illegal for all drivers, as it’s one of the most dangerous forms of distracted driving. These laws, like the seat belt laws, are under primary enforcement. The fines for illegal cell phone usage include:
- First offense: $100 fine, two points for school or commercial drivers
- Second offense: $200 fine, two points for school or commercial drivers<
There’s a reason that car insurance costs for teens are so high. With little driving experience, teens are more likely to get into accidents and thus, have covered claims. Michigan takes a cautionary stance when it comes to teen drivers. All first-time, licensed drivers enter their driving experience on probation for the first three years.
If they get into any crashes or receive any tickets, they’ll have to face a driver assessment reexamination, which could lead to a license suspension and/or restriction. And if those tickets or at-fault accidents fall into the last 10 months of probation, the probation will be extended for another 10 months, which must be violation-free.
Fines for teens caught using phones while driving are higher than the rest of the population. If you’re caught using a phone while driving, you could pay up to $295 in fines. However, there are a few exceptions to take note of:
- Reporting a traffic accident, medical emergency, or serious road hazard
- Reporting a situation in which you think your personal safety is in jeopardy
- Reporting a crime or potential crime against yourself or another person
In the same vein, teens have stricter DUI penalties, as well. Michigan has a zero tolerance law when it comes to consuming alcohol and drinking. For the first offense, you could receive:
- A fine of up to $250
- 360 hours of community service
- A restricted license for 30 days
- Four points
- A $500 Driver Responsibility Fee for two years
Penalties only get more severe for the second and subsequent offenses. Even possessing alcoholic beverages in your car could land you in trouble, even if they’re not opened.
|Penalties for having alcohol in your car for teens in Michigan
|License suspension in days
|License restriction in days
Statutes of Limitations for Claims
If you have a personal injury or property damage claim, you must file it in three years, the statute of limitations for claims in Michigan.
Cancellation and Nonrenewal Notifications
Companies can’t end your coverage without notifying you first, whether it’s a cancellation or a nonrenewal.
|Cancellation vs. nonrenewal notification law in Michigan
||Cancellations due to fraud, misrepresentation, driver’s license suspension, or driver’s license revocation
||Cancellations due to nonpayment
|Number of days the company has to notify you before your policy expires
Make sure you get a new policy before your old policy ends to avoid a lapse in coverage.
Do you have more than 25 vehicles? If so, you may be able to self-insure your cars, but it’s at the discretion of the insurance commissioner, according to the Michigan Legislature.
Unless you’re insuring a salvage vehicle, Michigan doesn’t require annual inspections or emissions tests. That being said, to get your salvage vehicle inspected, use the below contact information:
- URL: https://dsvsesvc.sos.state.mi.us/TAP/_/#1
- Phone number: 1-888-767-6424
Proof of Financial Responsibility
What happens if you don’t have insurance and you get into an at-fault accident? Michigan doesn’t require SR-22s or FR-44s, but rather, you’ll have to get a special license that demonstrates financial responsibility. Here’s everything you need to know about the Financial-Responsibility Restricted Drivers License, straight from the Office of the Secretary of the State:
- It doesn’t include a photo, unlike regular driver’s licenses.
- It specifies that you can drive in one vehicle only.
- You’ll need to file a partial-payment agreement. In this document, you’ll agree to pay a judgment, and both you and the injured party will sign it.
- You’ll also need to file proof of insurance by either mailing it to:
Michigan Department of State Driver Record Activity Unit
7064 Crowner Drive
Lansing, Michigan 48918-0001
Or, call 517-636-6406.
Defensive Driving Courses
Have you been ordered to take a defensive driving course in Michigan? You can find one here: https://www.michigan.gov/msp/0,4643,7-123-72297_30536-230768–,00.html. Just note that it has to be four hours at a minimum.
Thresholds to Sue
No-fault accident victims have the right to sue, but in Michigan, only if they have either a serious impairment of a bodily function or a serious and permanent disfigurement.