As we’re approaching the halfway mark of 2016, we thought it would be a good idea to inform Michigan residents of new laws that have taken effect this year. Some of them you may be aware of, some you may not know about.
Some of the most notable new laws that have gone into effect include:
Drivers no longer have to provide a hard copy of auto insurance to police when pulled over; instead, you can now show proof of coverage on your cell phone or any mobile device. Governor Rick Snyder signed this legislation into law in an effort to modernize government and make life simpler for residents. Motorists who cannot provide evidence of auto insurance coverage may have their driver’s license suspended by a judge, or be subject to a civil infraction.
Veterans and others with service animals can now take their animals into public areas such as restaurants without being denied entrance, except in limited circumstances. In most situations, it is a crime to deny service or entry to a public place to an individual with a service animal. Veterans who suffer from PTSD are not permitted to have a service animal, however if someone falsely represents an animal as a service animal, he or she may face misdemeanor charges. Additionally, it is now a crime to assault a service animal. Those with service animals will be provided voluntary IDs, vests, and tags by the state.
There is now a ban on powdered alcohol, or Palcohol. Sales of powder that when mixed with water makes rum, vodka, and other alcoholic drinks was approved by federal regulators in March of 2015, however state lawmakers have now banned the sale, use, or possession of this powder. The ban does not apply to scientific researchers. State lawmakers were concerned that powdered alcohol could increase the risk of spiked drinks. The product has been banned although Palcohol was never introduced into the Michigan market after Lt. Governor Brian Calley signed a preemptive bill in October of last year.
Changes to civil forfeiture. In regards to police or law enforcement officials seizing and taking ownership of someone’s property, a higher evidentiary standard must now be met. There are now new reporting requirements law enforcement must adhere to, and agencies that forfeit or seize property must provide detailed reports to state police each year. In cases where property is seized due to suspicion the property is tied to a crime, prosecutors must meet a higher standard of evidence in civil court prior to taking ownership of property/assets they believe are connected to criminal activity, regardless of whether charges have been filed or a conviction secured.
Blue alerts. Similar to an Amber Alert that is issued when children go missing, the Blue Alert will be issued by state police to inform the public of a search for any individual suspected of killing or injuring a police officer. The Michigan Blue Alert Plan is intended to help ensure those who injure or kill a police officer are apprehended and arrested more quickly. Basically, when a police officer is injured or killed, Michigan State Police will be notified by local agencies. Suspect and vehicle descriptions along with any pertinent information will then be broadcast on radio and television stations across Michigan. Those who assault a police officer or engage in activity that results in an officer being injured or losing his/her life face extremely serious criminal penalties if charged and convicted.