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Michigan Court Records

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What are Michigan Traffic Court Records?

Michigan traffic court records are documents containing information regarding the judicial processes of the state's traffic courts. These records typically include road traffic offenses, consequent citations, court actions, motions, trial transcripts, and judgements delivered during a traffic case hearing.

In Michigan, traffic violations and infractions are handled by the district court of the jurisdiction where the offense occurred. As such, it is the responsibility of the district courts to manage and disseminate documented proceedings of traffic court hearings as well as related information. As per Michigan state laws, these records may be made available to interested persons upon request. However, the information accessible by a requestor will depend on the nature of the case and the authority of the requesting party.

Michigan Traffic Violations

Under Michigan road traffic laws, traffic violations are all crimes and offenses committed by road users, including vehicle operators and pedestrians alike. Traffic violations are classified based on the nature of the violation or the severity of the damage caused. Based on the nature of the violation, traffic violations are further classified as moving or non-moving violations. However, a traffic violation may be considered an infraction or a misdemeanor based on severity. In summary, most traffic violation designations are based on where and how the violation occurred and its severity.

Infractions and Misdemeanors

Traffic infractions are civil violations of minimum severity. They are considered non-criminal omissions and may include offenses relating to various seat belt violations, traffic sign violations, speeding, failing to signal or stop, and operating a vehicle without the needed light signals. These often do not pose immediate and/or severe danger to other road users.

On the other hand, a misdemeanor or felony traffic violation is considered a criminal traffic offense, often resulting in serious damage to lives and/or property. These include DUI's and DWI's as well as vehicular homicide.

Most jurisdictions of the state operate distinct classification methods in determining whether a traffic violation is an infraction, misdemeanor, or felony. As such, 'infraction' and 'misdemeanor' may be used interchangeably to describe similar offenses—in this case, the designation to which a violation is ascribed depends on the driver's history and whether or not significant damage was caused as a result of the offense.

Additionally, traffic infractions may be considered strict liability violations, thus making the motorist liable for their offense, regardless of their knowledge of traffic laws or intention. Essentially, motorists unaware of their violation at the time of its occurrence are nonetheless punishable by law, provided their offense can be established or sufficiently proven.

Moving and Non-moving Traffic Violations.

Most road-traffic offenses, including infractions, misdemeanors, or felonies, are classified as either moving or non-moving offenses.

Primarily, infractions are often known to be non-moving violations. These are offenses that typically involve immobile vehicles and constitute the least threat to other road users. They include violations such as parking offenses, operating a vehicle without the required paperwork, and operating vehicles lacking necessary components—such as break or turn signal lights, fire extinguishers, or spare tires.

Moving violations, conversely, often constitute the most severe road-traffic offenses and are often misdemeanors or felonies. They are the criminal offenses of drivers and other vehicle operators while in motion and include violations such as driving under the influence, driving while intoxicated, operating a vehicle without the required license, and reckless driving, often resulting in vehicular homicide.

The nature of the offense often distinguishes moving and non-moving traffic violations but are also distinguishable by the fact that moving violations are sometimes punishable by imprisonment, while non-moving violations often result in traffic tickets or various amounts and point implications.

Getting a Traffic Ticket in Michigan

Following a traffic violation in Michigan, offenders are typically issued traffic tickets, also known as citations. These tickets serve as legal notices of the violation and are generated to provide information regarding the offense, its severity and consequent implications which are often point-based and may require the offender to pay a traffic ticket.

Upon receiving a ticket, offenders will be notified of their crime, its penalty, and their options for responding to the ticket. In some cases, the ticket will also serve as a summons, requiring the offender to appear in court following their violation. In other cases, offenders will simply be informed of notable changes in their driving record following their offense. In this case, the recipient may opt to negotiate the ticket's penalties or contest the ticket by appearing in court. Whichever the case, all tickets are to receive their required responses within 10 days of their issuance at most.

Responding to a Michigan Traffic Ticket/Citation

There are two primary ways to respond to traffic tickets or citations:

  • Admit guilt, and agree to any associated sanctions, including the payment of fines or license suspension
  • Request a mitigation or contested hearing to renegotiate a ticket or plead not guilty

Given the implications of having multiple violations on a driving record, traffic violators may opt to renegotiate traffic tickets or plead not-guilty to the alleged offense. However, this is considered a more complicated alternative to paying the ticket which is often the preferred option for most traffic offenders.

How do I Pay a Traffic Ticket in Michigan?

Paying Michigan traffic tickets may be considered an inadvertent admission of guilt, which might have various implications, depending on the alleged offense. However, payments may be made through a variety of channels, including online, in person, or via mail.

To make in-person or mail payments, offenders are advised to refer to the citation received for information regarding the district court where payments may be made. The court clerk's office will respond to queries pertaining to the best method employed for traffic ticket payments in that jurisdiction.

Alternatively, traffic tickets can be paid using the online tool of Michigan's One Court of Justice -- ePay. This will require the offender to search for their ticket by county, court, last name, ticket case number, or driver's full name/birthdate, license or license plate number. Upon finding the ticket, payments may be made using a credit or debit card on the payment tool. However, only a few selected district courts are currently participating in this arrangement. Offenders whose courts are not indicated will be required to pay their tickets in person or via mail.

How do I Request a Mitigation or Contested Hearing?

Mitigation hearings allow offenders the option to renegotiate the terms of their traffic ticket if they haven't admitted their guilt. If successful, mitigation may offer the offender a fine reduction, a community service alternative to paying the fine, or an installment payment plan to ease the payment process. However, unlike contested hearings, the judge's decision in this case is final and cannot be appealed.

To request a mitigated hearing, the offender is required to contact the office of the court clerk of the district court indicated on the citation issued. This should be done in no more than 15 days after receiving the citation and before the tickets due date. The requirements for these hearings generally varies depending on the jurisdiction.

Contesting a Traffic Ticket in Michigan

Where the offender is convinced of their innocence, they may plead not guilty by requesting contested hearing at the appropriate district court. To do so, the offender must indicate their plea on the assigned citation/ticket which should then be sent to the courthouse listed on the citation.

In order to proceed with a contested hearing the alleged offender may be required to (depending on the jurisdiction) make a pre-trial payment to the court which should cover the cost of the ticket and other charges.

What to Expect in Michigan Traffic Court

If the offender is found guilty of the offense being contested, they may be required to pay some additional fees along with any penalties deemed fair by the court. However, offenders who are acquitted will be refunded their initial payment and any other penalties will be redacted as well.

Where to Find Michigan Traffic Court Records

Generally, traffic court records are managed by the office of the court clerk in the courthouse where the case was originally filed/heard. As such, Michigan traffic court records are maintained by the various district courts where traffic cases are heard. Most courts provide traffic court information to interested persons upon request and provide online channels through which traffic court records may be accessed remotely.

To request for traffic court records in person or via mail, the requestor is required to contact the appropriate district court with information regarding the case of interest. This criteria may include the case number of the record, the place and date the citation ticket was issued and details regarding the attorney, final judgement and related information. Most record requests require that the requestor provide adequate identification and make any required payment to cover search/copy expenses.

Alternative to making in-person or mail requests to the district court, requestors may opt to access traffic court records online using the case search tool of Michigan's One Court of Justice. The requesting party will be required to furnish the with the case docket number of the record of interest.

Publicly available records are accessible from some third-party websites. These websites offer the benefit of not being limited by geographical record availability and can often serve as a starting point when researching specific or multiple records. To find a record using the search engines on these sites, interested parties must provide:

  • The name of someone involved, providing it is not a juvenile
  • The assumed location of the record in question such as a city, county, or state name

Third party sites are not government sponsored websites, and record availability may differ from official channels.

How Do I Look Up My Michigan Driving Record?

Requests for Michigan state driving records are processed by the office of the Michigan Secretary of State. The office is tasked with the management and dissemination of the driving records of all persons who hold a Michigan state driver's license. Driving records generally feature information regarding the subject's life time driving information including traffic violation and citation history.

To request a Michigan driving record, interested persons may download and complete the Michigan State Record Lookup Request form. Applications must legibly indicate the driver's personal information as well as their Michigan driver's license number. The completed form should be enclosed along with the indicated fees and submitted in person or via mail to:

Michigan Department of State
Record Sales Unit
7064 Crowner Drive
Lansing, MI 48918–1502

Other queries pertaining to this process or instructions included on the application may be made to (517) 335–6198 during official working hours.

Walk-in requests may also be made at the State Secondary Complex, Secretary of State Building, 7064 Crowner Drive, Dimondale. Requestors will simply be required to present their driver's license and pay a fee of $12 to obtain their driving record.

How to Recover Lost Traffic Tickets in Michigan

Copies of traffic tickets issued by law enforcement agents are often maintained by the district courts of the jurisdiction, especially for record purposes. Interested members of the public may find tickets which have been misplaced by contacting the district court in the jurisdiction where the ticket was issued, or by using the One Court of Justice Online tool ePay.

To access lost traffic tickets using ePAY, requestors are required to provide information regarding the ticket such as the traffic citation number and the personal information of the driver. Similarly, to obtain lost traffic tickets from the district court which processed the citation, the requesting party may contact the courthouse with information regarding the ticket such as the citation number, the violation and the place and date were the ticket was issued.

Michigan's Driving Record Point System

The state of Michigan operates a driver's license point system which ascribes motorists driving record points with each traffic violation. The points added to a record depend primarily on the severity of the damage caused by the violation—this is as established by the Michigan Vehicle Code.

Points placed on a driver's record remain for two years from the day of the citation or conviction. This is unless the offense is set aside by a court following a contested hearing.

If a driver receives up to four points on their record in under two years, they become eligible to receive a warning letter from the office of the secondary of state. If up to 12 points are accumulated within the 2-year period, the driver will be required to retake a driving exam, which will review the driver's driving record, traffic knowledge, and eye health. Following the re-examination, the driver may be allowed to proceed without additional penalties or may have their license revoked or suspended for extended periods.

How to Prepare for Traffic Court 

Before showing up in traffic court, review the citation you received, noting the specific violation, date, time, and location of the incident. Gather evidence supporting your defense, such as photographs, videos, or witness statements. Consider seeking legal representation as traffic attorneys are best suited for providing counsel and support following an indictment.

Michigan Traffic Court Records
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