Traffic and Nontraffic Civil Infraction Matters
The following provides general information about traffic and nontraffic civil infraction matters. There is no specific information available in this Self-Help Center to aid you with the entire legal process in a traffic or nontraffic civil infraction case.
A traffic civil infraction case begins when a law enforcement officer issues a Uniform Law Citation (ticket) claiming that you have violated the Michigan Vehicle Code, or a local ordinance (local law) that is similar to the Michigan Vehicle Code, for an offense for which the penalty does not include a jail sentence. The law enforcement officer is considered the complainant and is issuing the ticket for the plaintiff. The plaintiff is either the State of Michigan or a city, village, township, or other local government unit. If you receive a ticket, you are considered the offender (or the defendant).
A nontraffic civil infraction case begins when a law enforcement officer issues a Uniform Law Citation (ticket) claiming that you have violated a state civil infraction law or municipal civil infraction ordinance (local law) for which the penalty does not include a jail sentence. The law enforcement officer is considered the complainant and is issuing the ticket for the plaintiff. The plaintiff is either the State of Michigan or a city, village, township, or other local government unit. If you receive a ticket, you are considered the offender (or the defendant). Other authorized persons may also issue nontraffic civil infraction tickets.
Types of Traffic and Nontraffic Civil Infraction Cases
Some of the more common traffic civil infraction cases are speeding, careless driving, defective equipment, failure to wear a safety belt, failure to yield the right of way, and disobeying a traffic control device. Some of the more common nontraffic civil infraction violations are disobeying state land-use rules (such as in state forests or campgrounds); failure to carry or display a concealed-weapons permit while carrying the concealed weapon; and violations of city, village, or township ordinances regulating the disposal of refuse and yard waste, building codes and permits, and excessive noise.
What if You Get a Traffic or Nontraffic Civil Infraction Ticket
If you have received a ticket, it is important to read both sides of the ticket. The ticket will state your rights and tell you what you need to do to respond to the ticket, including how and where to appear. You can dispute the ticket in a court hearing. To request a hearing, follow the directions on the back of the ticket.
Most traffic and nontraffic civil infraction violations are heard by district judges or magistrates in the district court located closest to where the incident occurred.
If you have received a civil infraction ticket, you must respond in one of several ways:
- You can admit responsibility for the violation and pay the amount indicated.
- You can admit responsibility for the violation with an explanation and pay the amount indicated.
- You can deny responsibility and ask the court for an informal hearing where you and the officer can explain to the judge or magistrate what happened. Attorneys are not allowed at informal hearings.
- You can deny responsiblity and ask for a formal hearing where the prosecutor will have to show that a law or ordinance was violated. You may hire an attorney to represent you at a formal hearing.
If you do not respond in one of the above four ways by the deadline indicated on the ticket, a default judgment will be issued.
If the violation was a traffic matter and a default judgment is issued, the court will notify the Secretary of State, who may add points to your driving record. In addition, your driver's license may eventually be suspended.
If the violation was a nontraffic matter involving a state law violation and you fail to respond to the ticket, eventually a hold may be placed on your driver's license to prevent renewal.
Eventually, you may also receive an order to appear in court to show cause why you should not be held in contempt, or a bench warrant may be issued for your arrest.
Processing Traffic and Nontraffic Civil Infraction Cases
Traffic and nontraffic civil infraction cases are filed in court by the law enforcement officer who issued the ticket. It is your responsiblity to respond to the ticket. The court will process the case.
Penalties for Traffic and Nontraffic Civil Infractions
The penalty for a traffic civil infraction is payment of fines, costs, and fees. Points may also be added to your driving record by the Secretary of State. In some situations, your driver's license can be suspended. A person cannot be sent to jail for a civil infraction unless they are found to be in civil contempt. Civil contempt usually means you have failed to pay the fines, costs, and fees as ordered. Additional costs and assessments are incurred for failure to pay or respond to the ticket.
Points are added to your driving record if you are found responsible for most traffic civil infractions. Points are added by the Secretary of State as required by law. The court does not assign points and cannot dismiss or waive them.
Points remain on a driver's record for two years from the date of the finding of responsibility or conviction, and the offense appears on the driving record for seven to ten years depending upon the type of offense. Convictions and accidents may also affect car insurance rates.
If a person gets too many points, the Secretary of State may put the driver on probation or suspend his or her license.
If you want to find out the number of points on your driving record, call 1-888-SOS-MICH (1-888-767-6424). You cannot obtain this information about another person's driving record.
If you want to obtain a copy of your driving record, contact your local Secretary of State branch office. There may be a charge for this service and it may take up to four weeks to receive the information. If you are in the Lansing area, you can obtain a copy of your driving record at the Secretary of State office located at 7064 Crowner Drive, Lansing, Michigan.
If you are eligible for a restricted driver's license, you will be notified by the Secretary of State.