Michigan Mandatory Vehicle Immobilization Laws

iStock_000022412417SmallA court may order a vehicle to be immobilized for a conviction for several different offenses including most alcohol or drug related driving cases, or drunk driving, driving while license suspended, child endangerment, and reckless driving. Under certain circumstances the immobilization may be mandatory. What follows are the Michigan laws that pertain to immobilization and its offenses.


Vehicle immobilization means the vehicle must utilize technology approved by the court that locks the ignition, wheels or steering wheel or otherwise prevents ANY person from operating the vehicle.  The court may also order the vehicle to be stored at a particular location it considers appropriate during the period of immobilization.

When someone is convicted of an offense that mandates immobilization, it only applies if the vehicle being driven is owned or leased by the person convicted unless the person who owns or leases the vehicle knew that the vehicle was being driven in violation of the law for which the driver was convicted.

A vehicle subject to immobilization may be sold during the period of immobilization but only to a person that is not exempt from paying a sales tax.

A defendant who is prohibited from operating a vehicle by an immobilization order shall not purchase or lease another vehicle or otherwise obtain a vehicle during the period of immobilization. Doing so is a misdemeanor offense and may result in a probation violation. For instance, if a person was convicted of drunk driving second offense and his vehicle was ordered immobilized for six months he may sell his car but he may not buy or otherwise obtain another to drive. Doing so is a misdemeanor that may land him in jail for a probation violation.

A court may order immobilization for up to six months for the following offenses with zero prior convictions

Operating While Intoxicated 257.625(1)

Operating While Impaired 257.625(3)

Child Endangerment 257.625(7)

Operating with the Presence of a Schedule One Controlled Substance (marijuana) (8)

Reckless driving causing serious injury 257.626(3)

Reckless driving causing death 257.626(4)

A court must order immobilization for up to six months for the following offenses

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Operating While Intoxicated or Impaired causing serious injury 257.625(4) or death 257.625(5)

Driving while license suspended causing serious injury 257.904(4) or death 257.904(5)

If the defendant has a prior conviction for any of the above offenses within the past seven years the court must order immobilization for a period between 90 and 180 days.

A person who is only permitted to drive a motor vehicle equipped with an ignition interlock device and is convicted of any offense related to driving a vehicle that is not so equipped that vehicle must be immobilized for a period between 90 and 180 days. There does no have to be a conviction for driving in violation of a restricted license to immobilize when driving without the ignition interlock.

If a person has two or more prior convictions for Operating While Intoxicated, Impaired or with a presence of a schedule one controlled substance the court must immobilize the vehicle used for a period of one to three years. The offense does not have to be a felony. For instance, Operating While Intoxicated Third Offense is a felony. If a person is charged with this offense then through a plea bargain pleads guilty to a second offense the vehicle is still subject to mandatory one-year minimum immobilization. If the prior offenses were over ten years old the conviction will not revoke the person’s drivers license but that person is still precluded from purchasing or obtaining a vehicle to drive effectively suspended his license for one year anyway.

Immobilization of vehicles used when the operator’s license is suspended is ordered as follows. If a person receives a ticket that is reported to their driving record during a period of suspension they will receive an additional period of suspension and if this has happened 2-3 three times within seven years prior the court must immobilize the vehicle for a period between 90 and 180 days. If it happened 4 or more times within the prior 7 years the court must immobilize the vehicle for a period between 1 and 3 years.

Lastly, when a vehicle has been immobilized the vehicle’s registration discloses the order therefore a police officer will know a vehicle is subject to immobilization if he checks the vehicle registration which will happen every time he pulls a vehicle over and can form the legal basis of a stop if the officer discovers the vehicle is being driven in violation of an immobilization order.

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The vehicle immobilization statute can be tough to understand. For questions and/or interpretation contact the Law Office of Barton Morris for free advice regarding vehicle immobilization over the phone.

Attorney Morris has enjoyed a very successful and distinguished career as a trial lawyer providing high quality legal representation in the area of state and federal criminal defense for 19 years. He is known for his trial preparation by fellow attorneys, judges and clients alike. As a trial attorney, he is dedicated to attaining justice in every case, and is prepared to take on complex legal issues with success. Barton and his law firm pride themselves on obtaining results for their clients that other attorneys cannot.

Not only does Barton Morris have extensive experience, he also engages in continuing legal education to provide the highest quality legal services. Barton has received specialized scientific training through the American Chemical Society. He attended the prestigious Trial Lawyers College and serves on its Alumni Association Board of Directors. Barton Morris is also a board member of several distinguished legal associations including the Michigan Association of OWI Attorneys, and the DUI Defense Lawyer’s Association Justice Foundation. He is also an active member of the National Association of Criminal Defense Attorneys and has also graduated from their National Criminal Defense Trial College in Macon, Georgia.

Barton Morris was chosen as a Top Lawyer of Metro Detroit for 2012, 2013 & 2014 for DUI/DWI and criminal defense by DBusiness Magazine and Hour Magazine. Barton Morris was also chosen as a Super Lawyer in Criminal Defense for 2014-2017 and Barton Morris is the only Lawyer in Michigan designated by the American Chemical Society as a “Forensic Lawyer-Scientist”

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November 5th, 2013|