Many traffic fines for civil infractions are set by a fine schedule which is used when sending in a payment by mail. If you intend to admit responsibility for a civil infraction, you may refer to the fine schedule for the amount of the fine. That amount should be sent to the Court along with the signed admission of responsibility as explained on the back of your ticket. The Court also accepts MasterCard and VISA for payments.
Many traffic offenses which are not serious enough to be classified as crimes, but serious enough to deserve sanctions other than jail, have been classified by the legislature as civil infractions. They include minor traffic violations such as speeding and parking violations.
A person who has a civil infraction ticket may have an informal hearing before the Magistrate unless a formal hearing is specifically requested. A person may not be represented by an attorney at an informal hearing. An appeal from the determination at an informal hearing may be taken to a District Court Judge. The amount of the fine must be posted as a bond at the time the appeal is filed.
A person may request a formal hearing before a District Court Judge. A formal hearing takes place under rules more closely resembling those of a trial. A formal hearing is bound by the basic substantive law, the statutory provisions or rules of practice, procedure, pleading, and the rules of evidence. A party may appeal a formal hearing determination to the Circuit Court.
Click on the following topics for more information regarding civil infractions:
Failure to Comply With an Order or Judgment
If a person fails to comply with an order or judgment issued for fines and costs for a civil infraction violation, within the time prescribed by the court, the driver's license shall be suspended until full compliance occurs. In other words, failure to comply results in a default for which sanctions are imposed-license suspension is but one.
When a judgment remains unsatisfied for 28 days or more, the court gives the defendant one final opportunity to resolve the matter. The court does so by sending the defendant a 14 day notice to comply. If the defendant still fails to comply within the additional 14 days, the court notifies the Secretary of State, who shall suspend the defendant's license. The suspension remains in effect until the defendant satisfies the judgment and pays a license reinstatement fee.
A default judgment may be set aside upon a persons request if the Court is satisfied that there is good cause for the non-appearance of the person and that the person has a meritorious defense to the charge. To set aside a default judgment the person must complete and file the Motion to Set Aside Default Judgment - Civil Infractions and pay a fee of $5.00. (Click here for form)
If a person has had their driver's license suspended for failure to appear in court (FAC) or for failure to pay a judgment (FCJ), the person must appear in court and/or pay the judgment before their driving privileges are reinstated. The person is also required to purchase a clearance card for the Secretary of State to reinstate their license. The clearance card fee is $45.00.
If the driver's license was suspended by the Secretary of State, the person must contact the Secretary of State for reinstatement of their license. The Court does not have jurisdiction to give the person a restricted license unless the Court imposed the suspension. See, Secretary of State.
Driver Responsibility Law
Under Michigan law, drivers may face a separate fee after they are convicted or found responsible for certain traffic offenses. This fee is in addition to any other fine or penalty imposed by the court. The court furnishes information about the traffic offense to the Michigan Department of State. The Michigan Department of State, in turn, posts the offense to the driving record and forwards the fee information to the Michigan Department of Treasury for collection. Fee notices are then mailed to drivers from the Michigan Department of Treasury.
The Driver Responsibility Program calls for monetary sanctions for drivers who:
- Accumulate seven or more qualifying points on their driving records, or
- Are convicted of specific qualifying offenses.
For more information on fees assessed by the State of Michigan under the Driver Responsibility Law, click here.
Waiving Civil Fines and Costs
"The court may waive fines, costs, and fees, pursuant to statute or court rule, or to correct clerical error." MCR 4.101(F)(4).
The court shall waive civil fines and costs under the following circumstances:
For defective safety equipment violations - if written under MCL 257.683; MSA 9.2385, "upon receipt of certification by a law enforcement agency that repair of the defective equipment was made before the appearance date of the citation." MCL 257.907(9); MSA 9.2607(9).
For child restraint violations - "if the person, before the appearance date on the citation, supplies the court with evidence of acquisition, purchase, or rental of a child seating system meeting the [statutory] requirements...." MCL 257.907(12); MSA 9.2607(12).
For failing to produce a valid registration certificate - "upon receipt of a certification by a law enforcement agency that the person, before the appearance date on the citation, produced a valid registration certificate that was valid on the date the violation ...occurred." MCL 257.907(14); MSA 9.2607(14).
For failing to possess license while operating vehicle - "upon receipt of certification by a law enforcement agency that the person, before the appearance date on the citation, has produced his or her operator's or chauffeur's license and that the license was valid on the date the violation ... occurred." MCL 257.901a; MSA 9.2601(1).
Misdemeanor traffic offenses
Many traffic offenses are misdemeanors which may carry a maximum penalty of a fine or jail ranging from a maximum of 90 days to 1 year in jail. All misdemeanor traffic offenses are heard by a judge and the defendant must appear in Court to be arraigned of the ticket. If the defendant pleads not guilty to the charge, the judge will set a bond to insure the defendant's appearance at the next proceeding. Depending on the type of case, the matter will then be set for pre-trial or trial. The defendant must appear in court when notified or a bench warrant may be issued for the person's arrest. If the defendant pleads guilty to the charge or is found guilty, the judge will impose a sentence. The matter may also be referred to the Probation Department for a pre-sentence report prior to sentencing.
Parking tickets are also handled by the Court and the procedures are the same as set forth above for civil infractions.
Under MCL 600.4801 and 600.4803, a 20% late penalty is applied to any total amount of costs, fees, penalty, or civil violation which has not been paid 56 days after the amount is due.