July 25, 2024


Law For A Better Future

When Is It Legal To Back Up On An Expressway

When Is It Legal To Back Up On An Expressway

When Is It Legal To Back Up On An Expressway Q: What should I do when I encounter a dark traffic signal at an intersection? A: When a traffic signal at an intersection loses power, and there are no other traffic control devices (e.g., stop sign, yield sign, temporary signal, temporary sign) or police officers present to provide direction, treat the intersection as a four-way stop. According to MCL 257.649, drivers approaching such an intersection should:

  • Stop at a clearly marked stop line or, if absent, stop before entering the crosswalk on the near side of the intersection. If there’s no crosswalk, stop before entering the intersection.
  • Yield the right of way to all vehicles in the intersection or approaching on intersecting roads if those vehicles pose an immediate hazard.
  • Proceed through the intersection with ordinary care.

Q: What should I do when I see a traffic light with flashing yellow arrows? 

When Is It Legal To Back Up On An Expressway
When Is It Legal To Back Up On An Expressway

A: The Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) has introduced a new type of signal with four lights, including flashing yellow arrows. Here’s how to interpret them:

  • Flashing yellow arrow: Allows a left turn when oncoming traffic has a green light, but you must yield to oncoming traffic.
  • Steady green arrow: Permits a left turn without yielding.
  • Steady yellow arrow: Warns that the left-turn signal is about to turn red, so prepare to stop.
  • Steady red arrow: Requires you to stop, and it will be followed by a flashing yellow arrow on the next cycle.

Q: Is running a yellow light considered a violation? 

When Is It Legal To Back Up On An Expressway
When Is It Legal To Back Up On An Expressway

A: Yes, according to MCL 257.612, when a yellow signal appears, vehicular traffic facing it must stop before entering the nearest crosswalk, limit line (if marked), or the intersection unless it’s unsafe to do so. You can complete a left turn after entering the intersection if oncoming traffic has stopped, even if the light turns red.

Q: Can I have open alcohol in a trailer being pulled on the road?

When Is It Legal To Back Up On An Expressway
When Is It Legal To Back Up On An Expressway

 A: In most cases, transporting or possessing open alcoholic beverages in a vehicle is not permitted, as stated in MCL 257.624a. However, there are exceptions when the open container is stored in specific areas of the vehicle, such as a locked glove compartment or behind the last upright seat. Additional exceptions apply to chartered vehicles like limousines or chartered buses.

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Q: When are turn signals required to be used, including when changing lanes? 

When Is It Legal To Back Up On An Expressway
When Is It Legal To Back Up On An Expressway

A: MCL 257.648 requires drivers to use turn signals before stopping, turning, or changing lanes. This includes using turn signals when changing lanes on a highway, as clarified by the Michigan Court of Appeals.

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Q: Can I turn left on a red light? A: According to MCL 257.612(1)(c)(ii), you can make a left turn on a red light from a one-way or two-way street into a one-way roadway carrying traffic in the direction of the left turn, unless prohibited by a sign, signal, marking, or other traffic control device. The same rule applies to turning right on a steady red signal.

Q: Who has the right-of-way when merging onto a freeway? A: MCL 257.649(7) dictates that a driver merging onto a freeway must yield the right-of-way to traffic already on the freeway. However, traffic on the freeway cannot intentionally block a merging driver by speeding up or slowing down.

Q: Can I make a U-turn in Michigan? A: U-turns are generally legal in Michigan, except in cities, villages, or townships that have adopted the Uniform Traffic Code (UTC). In such areas, U-turns may be prohibited unless explicitly allowed by local ordinances.

Q: How far can you drive in a center turn lane? A: The distance you can drive in a center turn lane when preparing for a left turn is considered “reasonable.” Using the center turn lane for a right turn or as a merge lane onto the roadway is unlawful.

Q: Is it against the law to drive in the left lane when not passing another vehicle? A: On roads with two or more lanes in one direction, vehicles should be driven in the extreme right-hand lane. The left lane can be used for a reasonable distance when preparing for a left turn. On freeways with three or more lanes, drivers can use any lane that is legally available.

Q: Can a person ride in the back of a pickup truck? A: It is illegal for anyone under the age of 18 to ride in the open bed of a pickup truck at speeds greater than 15 miles per hour on a public roadway, as specified in MCL 257.682b.

Q: Can private roads have enforceable stop signs by the State Police? A: The Michigan Vehicle Code (MVC) generally applies to publicly maintained roads open for public vehicular travel. Private roads can have stop signs, but enforcement by the State Police would depend on any specific agreements or contracts between the private road owner and local authorities. Consult local officials for information on any such agreements.

Tinted Windows

Q: Can I have tinted windows on my vehicle? A: Michigan law allows tinting on the rear side windows, the rear window (if mirrors are present on both sides), and the top 4 inches of the front side windows. Medical necessity with a doctor’s prescription allows tinting on the front side windows as well. Tinted windows should not exceed a solar reflectivity greater than 35%.

Q: Can someone else drive my vehicle with tinted windows if I have a medical necessity letter? A: Yes, another person can drive your vehicle with tinted windows if you have a signed letter from a physician or optometrist indicating that the tinting is medically necessary.

Equipment & Lighting

Q: Can I install neon lighting inside my vehicle? A: Michigan law restricts the color of lamps on vehicles and their visibility from various directions. Neon lighting inside a vehicle must be covered and unlit while on the road. It should not obstruct the driver’s clear vision.

Q: Are neon license plate frames legal? A: Neon license plate frames are allowed, but they must be covered and unlit while on the roadway. They should not obstruct any registration information on the plate or tabs.

Q: Can I have neon underbody lighting on my vehicle? A: Neon underbody lighting is not expressly required or permitted by Michigan law. If equipped, the lights must be unlit and covered while on a highway.

Q: Are smoked-out headlight covers legal? A: Smoked headlight covers may be used when headlights are not required to be on. However, they should not interfere with the ability of headlamps to emit a white light as specified by Michigan law.

Q: Is it legal to have smoked taillight/brake covers on my vehicle? A: Michigan law requires tail lamps to emit a red light, and stop lamps should emit red or amber light. Smoked taillight/brake covers that diminish the required lighting may be considered unlawful.

Q: Can I add extra equipment, such as spotlights, to my retired Police Cruiser? A: The Michigan Vehicle Code has specific requirements about the color of lamps on vehicles and their usage. Adding spotlights and other equipment should