Written by attorney Jonathan Andrew Paul

Want to get Arrested? Stop at a Blinking Yellow Light in Michigan

I've seen it hundreds of times as a former Michigan prosecutor and criminal defense attorney. A driver is on the road, it's late at night and they approach a blinking yellow light. If it's late at night and a police officer is watching, you'll probably be pulled over in Michigan. If you've been drinking alcohol or consuming illegal drugs, you're in for a long night. The Michigan Motor Vehicle Code states the following for a flashing yellow light: When a yellow lens is illuminated with rapid intermittent flashes, drivers of vehicles may proceed through the intersection or past the signal only with caution. The term "only with caution" seems ambiguous, and would suggest that you may need to stop before the intersection, look both ways and proceed. Even if you have a good reason for stopping, a police officer in Michigan only needs a reasonable suspicion that you've committed a civil infraction. This means even if you're in compliance with the law, if the police officer has a suspicion based on reason, he/she is allowed to conduct the traffic stop. If the traffic stop is "legal" then you won't have a basis for challenging the stop. Now if there's no cars around, and there's no reason to cautiously stop, you'll definitely be pulled over in Michigan. Why all the fuss about blinking yellow lights? Besides speeding, I think it's the #2 traffic violation that leads todrunk driving arrests in Michigan. Late at night, a few drinks in your system, it takes an extra second or two to process what the blinking yellow means. This is easy pickings for a police officer trying to hit his quota for traffic tickets for the evening; bonus if he can arrest you for drunk driving, pad his overtime and bring thousands of dollars to the city, township or county. Once you've been pulled over, the police officer will start to make observations of you, possibly have you perform field sobriety tests, offer you a preliminary breath test, and arrest you if there is probable cause that you're in violation of the law. In Michigan, there are a number of different drunk driving offenses. The least severe is Operating While Impaired, then comes Operating While Intoxicated by Alcohol or a Controlled Substance then the High BAC Super Drunk. Click on the individual crime to learn more. So watch out for those blinking yellows. It's good to be cautious late at night, because you never know what other drivers are going to do, but you can save yourself a lot of trouble, by not drinking alcohol before you get behind that wheel, and approach those blinking yellow lights. If you happen to make that mistake, give me a call, and we will minimize your mistake, and present you with your options.

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