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

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

  • 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)]
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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 with a license suspended  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 Offices of Barton Morris for advice regarding vehicle immobilization.