Thursday, May 21, 2015

What you can do to get stopped by the police

Ok, so nobody WANTS to get stopped by the police, but it is surprising to me how often I see three common infractions of the law. Any of these infractions could be a reason for you to be pulled over.

1. Tinted windows.  Tinted windows for either the driver or front passenger are Illegal in Michigan (unless you have a doctor's note saying you require the tint).

2. Obscuration of your license plate.  How many cars have brown or black smoked plastic coverings over their license plate?  Looks COOL, but it is a violation of law.

3. Seatbelts.  Yes they are REQUIRED for the front-seat occupants in Michigan.  Local Police have set up special enforcement zones recently to ticket drivers who don't wear their seatbelts.  Oddly, occupants in the back seats that are 16 years old or older don't have to wear them.

How you WONT get a ticket.  Unmanned Red light cameras and Speed Cameras -- they are currently not allowed in Michigan.  Unfortunately,  this is also a prime reason we have so many red-light runners.  Those small cameras you see at intersections are NOT red light cameras, they are safety cameras that monitor traffic.  BUT, stay tuned, there are legislators in Lansing that want to make them legal state wide.

Don't get me wrong, I'm a big supporter of our police officers, but I'm also a Criminal Defense Attorney who wants to help you to be in compliance with the law, before you meet our police on the street.

Clay Wittman is a Criminal Defense Attorney in Kentwood, MI.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Do you know the laws about what you MUST do even if you only had "a reason to believe" you may have just been involved in an automobile accident?

The answer may surprise you.  As with any other area of the law, ignorance is no excuse.

The Michigan Motor Vehicle code provides us the answers in Sections 257.617 through 257.622.

First, if you know, or have reason to believe, that you had been involved in an accident resulting in personal injury or ANY property damage you must stop at the scene, or face a misdemeanor criminal citation.

Furthermore you MUST provide the following at the scene:

(a) your name and address, and the registration number of the vehicle he or she is operating, including the name and address of the owner, to a police officer, the individual struck, or the driver or occupants of the vehicle with which he or she has collided.
(b) Render to any individual injured in the accident reasonable assistance in securing medical aid or arrange for or provide transportation to any injured individual.

Again, failure to provide the information or help mentioned in (a) and (b) above could also result in a (another) misdemeanor criminal citation against you.
Furthermore, The driver of a motor vehicle involved in an accident that injures or kills any person, or that damages property to an apparent extent totaling $1,000.00 or more, shall immediately report that accident at the nearest or most convenient police station, or to the nearest or most convenient police officer.  Again, failure to do so, could result in a (another) criminal citation.

The BOTTOM LINE is this:  Stop even if you just think you may have hit something, or something hit you.  Render assistance to any injured party, and call the police.  If the police don't respond, exchange your personal information with the other driver.  Then call the police again!

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Selling your car to a stranger? Seller BEWARE.

If you sell your Michigan-titled vehicle to a stranger, make sure you keep your license plates.  Also, if any way possible, accompany the buyer to the DMV to ensure the title is transferred to the buyer.  The last option (the much less preferred option) is to fill out the seller's portion of the title, sign it, and keep a photocopy of that title!

All too often I hear of someone who is being sued for an accident involving a vehicle that they sold many months (or years) ago.  As to be expected, when that vehicle was subsequently in an accident, the plaintiff's attorney will sue both the owner(s) of record, as well as the driver.  When the buyer doesn't transfer the title (may not have the money to transfer it), you are still on the hook as the owner of record, unless you can prove you sold it (reason for keeping a copy of that title).

But BY FAR, the best solution is to accompany any buyer of your vehicle to the DMV to make absolutely sure your name is off the title!

Friday, May 1, 2015

Should We Limit Police Access To Body Camera Footage?

Legislators in Oakland, California are proposing laws that would, when there is a incidence of violence with the police, prohibit a police officer from reviewing his "body" camera footage before he writes his police report.

Obviously, this is a hotly contested proposal.

Those for the law would argue that it forces an officer to write more truthful reports, as the video footage will show if the officer distorted the facts.

Those against the law would argue that what happens in the heat of the moment can only best be recollected by reviewing the video footage.

What do you think?

You can see the full article here, Copyright NPR: