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Consequences Of Distracted Driving In Michigan Explained

April 4, 2024 by Steven M. Gursten

Distracted driving consequences explained

The consequences of distracted driving in Michigan may include: (1) being responsible for a civil infraction; (2) paying fines; (3) being ordered to do community service; (4) having points put on your driving record; and (5) being ordered to complete a “basic driver improvement course.”

The distracted driving laws in Michigan prohibit all drivers from using a hand-held cell phone or mobile electronic device to text, talk on the phone, watch videos, and/or go on social media while they’re driving. (MCL 257.602b(1), (12)(a) and (13))

Importantly, the consequences of distracted driving which causes a crash that injures or kills someone may include: (1) being convicted of a misdemeanor; (2) serving jail time; (3) paying a large fine; (4) having up to 4 points put on your driving record; and (5) civil liability for injuries that the driver caused.

The civil consequences of distracted driving in Michigan if you were at-fault for causing a distraction-related car crash that injures or kills someone include being sued in a lawsuit for pain and suffering compensation or for wrongful death damages in the event that you caused a fatal crash. It can also include medical bills, both current and future as well as other significant economic loss damages and vehicle damage repair costs.

What are the consequences of distracted driving for adult Michigan drivers?

The consequences of distracted driving in Michigan include: (1) fines $100 to $250; (2) 16 to 24 hours of community service; (3) points on the driving records of repeat offenders; and (4) driving school for drivers with 3 or more distracted-driving violations in a 3-year period.

Here are more details about the consequences of distracted driving in Michigan:

  • Distracted driving is a civil infraction. (MCL 257.602b(4))
  • A $100 fine for a 1st violation and/or 16 hours of community service. (MCL 257.602b(4)(a))
  • A $250 fine for a 2nd or subsequent violation and/or 24 hours of community service. (MCL 257.602b(4)(b))
  • Drivers with 3 or more violations within a 3-year period must complete a “basic driver improvement course.” (MCL 257.602b(8))
  • 1 point on a person’s driving record for a 2nd violation of MCL 257.602b. (MCL 257.320a(1)(y))
  • 2 points on a person’s driving record for a 3rd or subsequent violation of MCL 257.602b. (MCL 257.320a(1)(x))
  • Fines are doubled when a driver violates Michigan’s distracted driving laws and is at-fault for causing a crash. (MCL 257.602b(6)); ); 257.907(h)(i)(B))
  • However, the texting driver has no risk of having his or her driver’s license suspended. (MCL 257.319)

What about teen drivers in Michigan?

The consequences of distracted driving for teen drivers in Michigan include: (1) fines; (2) community service; (3) points on their license and/or driving school for repeat offenders. Teen drivers with Level 1 or 2 driving permits may have their restrictions and “provisional period” expanded or extended. (MCL 257.310e(7))

Additionally, teen drivers with a Level 1 or Level 2 graduated license who violate Kelsey’s Law by talking on the phone (whether hand-held or hands-free) while driving will be responsible for a civil infraction. (MCL 257.602c(3)) There are no fines, community services, points or jail for a Kelsey’s Law violation. (MCL 257.602c(4); 257.320a(2))

However, a teen driver with a Level 1 or Level 2 graduated license who violates Kelsey’s Law could have the length and conditions of their probationary driver’s privilege expanded and/or extended. (MCL 257.310e(7)(a))

What are the consequences for distracted driving in Michigan for truck drivers and school bus drivers?

The consequences for distracted driving in Michigan for truck drivers and school bus drivers include: (1) being responsible for a civil infraction; (2) paying fines of $200 to $500; and (3) 32-48 hours of community service. (MCL 257.602b(2) and (5))

They will also get one point on their driving record for a 2nd violation of MCL 257.602b and 2 points for a 3rd or subsequent violation. (MCL 257.320a(1)(x) and (y))

Truck drivers and school bus drivers who have two (2) distracted driving violations within 36 months will have their license suspended for 60 days. (MCL 257.319b(1)(a)(i) and (10)(b)(ix)) Three (3) violations within 36 months results in a 120-day day suspension on top of the 60-day suspension. (MCL 257.319b(1)(b)(i) and (10)(b)(ix))

Michigan has adopted the federal cell phone policy which imposes a $2,750 fine and other sanctions on truck drivers and school bus drivers who text and/or use a cell phone while driving a commercial vehicle or school bus. (MCL 480.11a(1)(b))

What are the consequences for distracted driving in Michigan if someone is injured or killed?

In Michigan, the consequences for distracted driving are very serious if an auto accident occurs and someone is injured or killed. The consequences for the distracted driver may include: (1) a criminal conviction; (2) possible jail time; (3) fines; and (4) points on the driver’s license.

Specifically, the law provides the following penalties depending on the type of crash and the injuries that result:

  • A distracted driver who causes “the death of another person” is guilty of a misdemeanor and could be sent to jail for a year and/or ordered to pay a fine of $2,000. (MCL 257.601d(1))
  • A distracted driver who causes “serious impairment of a body function to another person” is guilty of a misdemeanor and could be sent to jail for up to 93 day and/or ordered to pay a fine of $500. (MCL 257.601d(2))
  • A distracted driver who causes “an at-fault collision with another vehicle, a person, or any other object” will get “4 points” on his or her driver’s license. (MCL 257.320a(1)(l))

A distracted driver includes any driver who is violating Michigan’s ban on texting while driving or any truck driver or school bus driver who is unlawfully using a cell phone while driving.

Should the penalties be the same as for drunk driving?

The consequences for distracted driving in Michigan should match those for drunk driving, given that distracted driving is at least as dangerous as drunk driving. Like drunk drivers, distracted drivers should be faced with a misdemeanor conviction, possible jail time, expensive fines, points and driver license suspensions.

Texting drivers are 23 times more likely to crash. Similarly, drunk drivers with a BAC between .05 and .07 are 6 to 17 times more likely to be in a fatal crash.

Researchers at the University of Utah have also found that “people are as impaired when they drive and talk on a cell phone as they are when they drive intoxicated at the legal blood-alcohol limit.”

But despite these similarities in dangerousness, the consequences for distracted driving and drunk driving are not even close to similar.

Generally, the penatlies for a distracted driver in Michigan is a “civil infraction,” fines of $100 to $250, community service, and points and driving school for repeat offenders. There is no possibility of jail time or having one’s driver’s license suspended.

On the other hand, a drunk driver who violates Michigan DUI law faces the following severe (and reasonable given the risk to public safety that is involved) sanctions:

  • Being found guilty of a misdemeanor (MCL 257.625(9)(a))
  • Imprisonment for not more than 93 days (MCL 257.625(9)(a)(ii))
  • Community service for not more than 360 hours (MCL 257.625(9)(a)(i))
  • A fine between $100 and $500 (MCL 257.625(9)(a)(iii))
  • Six (6) points on his or her driver’s license (MCL 257.320a(1)(c))
  • A 180-day driver’s license suspension (for driving “under the influence” of alcohol or having a BAC of .08 or more)(MCL 257.319(8)(a))
  • A 1-year driver’s license suspension (for having a BAC of .17 or more)(MCL 257.319(8)(g))
  • A 1-year driver’s license suspension (for refusing to submit to a chemical test per MCL 257.625d)(MCL 257.625f(1)(a) and (7)(a))

Were you injured in a car accident by a negligent driver? Speak to an attorney at Michigan Auto Law first

If you have suffered a personal injury in a distracted driving car accident and you would like to speak with an experienced attorney about the consequences of distracted driving in Michigan for the at-fault driver, your legal rights to pain and suffering compensation and/or No-Fault benefits, call toll free anytime 24/7 at (800) 968-1001 for a free consultation with one of our car accident attorneys. You can also get help from an experienced auto accident attorney by visiting our contact page or you can use the chat feature on our website. Steven Gursten is the current President of the American Association for Justice Distracted Driving Litigation Group. He lectures and teaches auto accident attorneys throughout the nation on what distracted driving is and on how to obtain evidence of distracted driving in their own cases. Steve has spoken at national lectures, seminars, conferences and webinars on the subject of distracted driving evidence and discovery. Also, Steve speaks to high school students and parent groups throughout Michigan as part of Joel Feldman’s End Distracted Driving Campaign school and parent presentations.

(Source: Virginia Tech Transportation Institute; MADD, Studies on the Effectiveness of .05 BAC, citing a study by the National Traffic Safety Board (NTSB; The University of Utah, “Drivers on Cell Phones Are as Bad as Drunks”))

Consequences Of Distracted Driving In Michigan Explained

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