In the year 2019, Michigan issued 365,965 license suspensions for individuals who failed to appear in court or who failed to pay court fines and costs, which included multiple suspensions for some drivers. This created a cycle of jail time and increasing fines and fees for individuals when they continued to drive; to work, to take their children to school, and other places.
The Michigan Joint Task Force on Jail and Pretrial Incarceration, who were tasked with researching and advocating for reform, determined that driving without a valid license was the third most common reason for jail detention in the state.
Further, Michigan will no longer suspend licenses as a penalty for drug convictions. This is a huge change in Michigan law. State Rep. Tenisha Yancey, who introduced the bill stated, “driver’s license suspensions or revocations will no longer be wielded over Michiganders as a means to sanction offenses that had nothing to do with driving factors.”
The bills that effect license suspensions are as follows: HB 5846, Rep. Bronna Kahle (R, District 57), HB 5847, Rep. Luke Meerman (R, District 88), HB 5849, Rep. Mike Mueller (R, District 51), HB 5850, Rep. Rebekah Warren (D, District 55), HB 5851, Rep. Tenisha Yancey (D, District 1), HB 5852, Rep. Lori Stone (D, District 28), HB 6235, Rep. Cynthia Neeley (D, District 34), and HCR 29, Rep. Beau LaFave (R, District 108) eliminates license suspension for violations of the law unrelated to dangerous driving.
Further, action was taken to introduce HB 5853, which reclassifies many traffic misdemeanors as civil infractions. While the new bills provide a leap in Criminal Justice Reform in the State of Michigan, the Detroit Justice Center issued a statement that the bills still leave much to be addressed. For example, driving without insurance is still considered a misdemeanor offense instead of a civil infraction.
To learn more about the newly passed bills you can visit: https://courts.michigan.gov/News-Events/Pages/DataDrivenJusticeSolutions.aspx