Current Stay At Home Order
Order 2020-21 is the executive order that was put in place by Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer. This order has limited gatherings, travel, and required “non-essential” workers to stay home to help protect against the spread of COVID-19. Facemasks, gloves, and social distancing have become a symbol for the year 2020. This incredible sudden change of life has left many people confused, scared, and looking for answers. Michiganders have shown mixed feelings over the stay-at-home orders and their provisions, which has contributed to the fear and hysteria we are all facing. Adding to many Michiganders anxiety levels is that you can be charged criminally for violating the governor’s stay-at-home order. A willful violation of this stay at home order is now considered a misdemeanor offense that carries a fine of up to $1,000 per offense. Does that mean that you can get pulled over for “willfully violating the state order?” The answer is no. This offense is what police are considering a “secondary offense.” A secondary offense is an offense that isn’t the reason for the stop, but they can inquire about your plans, route, etc. if you are stopped for another reason. Police can also speak to and question passengers in a vehicle freely as there is no constitutional provision that prevents them from doing so. If you are pulled over and the officers are given different stories about where you are going from the different passengers in a vehicle, then you may encounter some issues with the police at that stop.
Requirement Of Probable Cause
While police may make it sound like they are doing us a favor by not pulling people over for suspicion of willfully violating the stay-at-home order, by the law they still need probable cause to stop you in the first place. The Michigan Attorney General has just sent out a memo detailing this to its prosecutor’s offices and police departments statewide. “The lone act of driving… doesn’t satisfy probable cause for a traffic stop.” In order to legally stop you, a police officer must have probable cause that you are violating the law in some way. The police are not given any extra rights or abilities to stop or seize you just because of this stay-at-home order. Constitutional rules and procedures are still in place and the police are still expected to follow them just the same. If anything, police are taking more of a backseat during this pandemic in an effort to limit contact and the possible spread of COVID-19.
The Variety Of Reasons You May Legally Be Driving
• Grocery Shopping
• Outdoor Exercise
• Food Pickup
• Care for Minors
• Care for Elderly
• Care for Disabled
• Getting Fuel
• Buying Recreational or Medical Marijuana
• Getting Medicine
Due to the variety of legal reasons you could be driving, it is very unlikely that an officer will (legally) be able to formulate particular probable cause against you for driving down the street. If an officer cannot specifically say why you were pulled over, then whatever resulting case has a chance to be dismissed against you. This also does not mean to just go and do whatever you want because you don’t think the police can stop you. They can still stop you for a variety of legal reasons, so exercise care and caution whenever you get behind the wheel to go anywhere during this time.
Any Further Questions?
If you have any additional questions relating to this case or anything else related to traffic violations, then we are happy to offer a FREE consultation. If you or someone you love is facing a criminal charge or is currently being investigated for a possible criminal charge, then it is important to seek the advice and counsel of an attorney immediately. At Grabel & Associates, we have over 100 years of combined experience in successfully representing clients in both federal and state court respectively. We are a criminal defense firm, it’s all we do. We are available by phone on our 24/7 defense line at 1-800-342-7896. You can contact us online or come visit us at one of our three statewide offices. We can also come to you.