If your car is currently uninsured, watch out! Police now have a right to stop uninsured vehicles on the road. To help you understand how this recent decision by the Michigan Court of Appeals will affect you, we’ve outline all the most crucial information below.
The Original Case
Patrick Mazzie was charged with numerous drug-related crimes, including possession of cocaine, intent to deliver, and operating a drug house after a routine traffic stop led to the recovery of an abundance of conclusive evidence against him. However, the initial trial court responsible for handling Mazzie’s case deemed the stop unlawful based on the fact that the insurance information provided by the Law Enforcement Information Network (LEIN) was not accurate/current enough to have warranted the vehicle be pulled over in the first place. Additionally, the court also determined that the LEIN’s use of insurance information specifically for traffic stops “violated confidentiality provisions” of statutes: MCL 500.3101a(3) and MCL 257.227(4). Because of this ruling, all evidence of Patrick Mazzie’s drug-related crimes were suppressed.
Once the Michigan Court of Appeals took hold of the case, the former trial court’s decision to suppress the evidence against Mazzie was immediately overturned for three main reasons.
- Since driving without valid insurance is a violation of statute MCL 500.3102, and the information discovered in the LEIN provided the officer reasonable suspicion, the Fourth Amendment supports the officer’s reasonable decision to proceed with a routine traffic stop to verify the vehicle’s valid insurance.
- Even if the LEIN’s access to insurance information does violate the confidentiality of the two statutes mentioned, “there is no statutory remedy provided in the exclusionary rule.”
- The fact that the LEIN’s information is only updated twice a month and offers delayed reporting did not make the officer’s decision to rely on the information and stop the vehicle unreasonable.
Based on this conclusion, it is safe to assume more officers will be using the LEIN’s access to insurance information to conduct reasonable traffic stops in the future.
How This Ruling Affects You
If your vehicle is uninsured, you should refrain from driving it until you’re able to get the proper insurance coverage and documents. Also, since the LEIN’s system is refreshed only twice per month, if you have recently insured a vehicle you will want to make sure you have all the proper paperwork in your car with you at all times in the event your car is flagged and you get pulled over. And above all else, know what to do if worst comes to worst. If you get pulled over and are subsequently charged with any sort of related criminal offense, choose our criminal defense attorneys at Harris Law to help you set things right! Call 231.347.4444 or fill out the free consultation form in the sidebar to schedule your free personal consultation.