Rule 4.101 Civil Infraction Actions

(A) Citation; Complaint; Summons; Warrant.

(1) Except as otherwise provided by court rule or statute, a civil infraction action may be initiated by a law enforcement officer serving a written citation on the alleged violator, and filing the citation in the district court.

(a) If the infraction is a parking violation, the action may be initiated by an authorized person placing a citation securely on the vehicle or mailing a citation to the registered owner of the vehicle. In either event, the citation must be filed in the district court.

(b) If the infraction is a municipal civil infraction, the action may be initiated by an authorized local official serving a written citation on the alleged violator. If the infraction involves the use or occupancy of land or a building or other structure, service may be accomplished by posting the citation at the site and sending a copy to the owner by first-class mail.

The citation serves as the complaint in a civil infraction action, and may be filed either on paper or electronically.

(2) A violation alleged on a citation may not be amended except by the prosecuting official or a police officer for the plaintiff.

(3) The citation serves as a summons to command

(a) the initial appearance of the defendant; and

(b) a response from the defendant as to his or her responsibility for the alleged violation.

(4) A warrant may not be issued for a civil infraction unless permitted by statute.

(B) Appearances; Failure to Appear; Default Judgment.

(1) Depending on the nature of the violation and on the procedure appropriate to the violation, a defendant may appear in person, by representation, or by mail.

(2) A defendant may not appear by making a telephone call to the court, but a defendant may telephone the court to obtain a date to appear.

(3) A clerk of the court may enter a default after certifying, on a form to be furnished by the court, that the defendant has not made a scheduled appearance, or has not answered a citation within the time allowed by statute.

(4) If a defendant fails to appear or otherwise to respond to any matter pending relative to a civil infraction action, the court:

(a) must enter a default against the defendant;

(b) must make a determination of responsibility, if the complaint is sufficient;

(c) must impose a sanction by entering a default judgment;

(d) must send the defendant a notice of the entry of the default judgment and the sanctions imposed; and

(e) may retain the driver's license of a nonresident as permitted by statute, if the court has received that license pursuant to statute. The court need not retain the license past its expiration date.

(5) If a defendant fails to appear or otherwise to respond to any matter pending relative to a traffic civil infraction, the court

(a) must notify the secretary of state of the entry of the default judgment, as required by MCL 257.732, and

(b) must initiate the procedures required by MCL 257.321a.

(6) If a defendant fails to appear or otherwise to respond to any matter pending relative to a state civil infraction, the court must initiate the procedures required by MCL 257.321a.

(C) Appearance by Police Officer at Informal Hearing.

(1) If a defendant requests an informal hearing, the court shall schedule an informal hearing and notify the police officer who issued the citation to appear at the informal hearing.

(2) The attendance of the officer at the hearing may not be waived.

Except when the court is notified before the commencement of a hearing of an emergency preventing an on-duty officer from appearing, failure of the police officer to appear as required by this rule shall result in a dismissal of the case without prejudice.

(D) Motion to Set Aside Default Judgment.

(1) A defendant may move to set aside a default judgment within 14 days after the court sends notice of the judgment to the defendant. The motion

(a) may be informal,

(b) may be either written or presented to the court in person,

(c) must explain the reason for the nonappearance of the defendant,

(d) must state that the defendant wants to offer a defense to or an explanation of the complaint, and

(e) must be accompanied by a cash bond equal to the fine and costs due at the time the motion is filed.

(2) For good cause, the court may

(a) set aside the default and direct that a hearing on the complaint take place, or

(b) schedule a hearing on the motion to set aside the default judgment.

(3) A defendant who does not file this motion on time may use the procedure set forth in MCR 2.603(D).

(E) Response.

(1) Except as provided in subrule (4), an admission without explanation may be offered to and accepted by

(a) a district judge;

(b) a district court magistrate as authorized by the chief judge, the presiding judge, or the only judge of the district; or

(c) other district court personnel, as authorized by a judge of the district.

(2) Except as provided in subrule (4), an admission with explanation may be written or offered orally to a judge or district court magistrate, as authorized by the district judge.

(3) Except as provided in subrule (4), a denial of responsibility must be made by the defendant appearing at a time set either by the citation or as the result of a communication with the court.

(4) If the violation is a trailway municipal civil infraction, and there has been damage to property or a vehicle has been impounded, the defendant's response must be made at a formal hearing.

(F) Contested Actions; Notice; Defaults.

(1) A contested action may not be heard until a citation is filed with the court. If the citation is filed electronically, the court may decline to hear the matter until the citation is signed by the officer or official who issued it, and is filed on paper. A citation that is not signed and filed on paper, when required by the court, may be dismissed with prejudice.

(2) An informal hearing will be held unless

(a) a party expressly requests a formal hearing, or

(b) the violation is a trailway municipal civil infraction which requires a formal hearing pursuant to MCL 600.8717(4).

(3) The provisions of MCR 2.501(C) regarding the length of notice of trial assignment do not apply in civil infraction actions.

(4) A defendant who obtains a hearing date other than the date specified in the citation, but who does not appear to explain or contest responsibility, is in default, and the procedures established by subrules (B)(4)-(6) apply.

(5) For any hearing held under this subchapter, in accordance with MCR 2.407, the court may allow the use of videoconferencing technology by any participant as defined in MCR 2.407(A)(1).

(G) Postdetermination Orders; Sanctions, Fines, and Costs; Schedules.

(1) A court may not increase a scheduled civil fine because the defendant has requested a hearing.

(2) Upon a finding of responsibility in a traffic civil infraction action, the court:

(a) must inform the secretary of state of the finding, as required by MCL 257.732; and

(b) must initiate the procedures required by MCL 257.321a, if the defendant fails to pay a fine or to comply with an order or judgment of the court.

(3) Upon a finding of responsibility in a state civil infraction action, the court must initiate the procedures required by MCL 257.321a(1), if the defendant fails to pay a fine or to comply with an order or judgment of the court.

(4) The court may waive fines, costs and fees, pursuant to statute or court rule, or to correct clerical error.

(H) Appeal; Bond.

(1) An appeal following a formal hearing is a matter of right. Except as otherwise provided in this rule, the appeal is governed by subchapter 7.100.

(a) A defendant who appeals must post with the district court, at the time the appeal is taken, a bond equal to the fine and costs imposed. A defendant who has paid the fine and costs is not required to post a bond.

(b) If a defendant who has posted a bond fails to comply with the requirements of MCR 7.104(D), the appeal may be considered abandoned, and the district court may dismiss the appeal on 14 days' notice to the parties pursuant to MCR 7.113. The court clerk must promptly notify the circuit court of a dismissal and the circuit court shall dismiss the claim of appeal. If the appeal is dismissed or the judgment is affirmed, the district court may apply the bond to the fine and costs.

(c) A plaintiff's appeal must be asserted by the prosecuting authority of the political unit that provided the plaintiff's attorney for the formal hearing. A bond is not required.

(2) An appeal following an informal hearing is a matter of right, and must be asserted in writing, within 7 days after the decision, on a form to be provided by the court. The appeal will result in a de novo formal hearing.

(a) A defendant who appeals must post a bond as provided in subrule (1)(a). If a defendant who has posted a bond defaults by failing to appear at the formal hearing, or if the appeal is dismissed or the judgment is affirmed, the bond may be applied to the fine and costs.

(b) A plaintiff's appeal must be asserted by the prosecuting authority of the political unit that is responsible for providing the plaintiff's attorney for the formal hearing. A bond is not required.

(3) There is no appeal of right from an admission of responsibility. However, within 14 days after the admission, a defendant may file with the district court a written request to withdraw the admission, and must post a bond as provided in subrule (1)(a). If the court grants the request, the case will be scheduled for either a formal hearing or an informal hearing, as ordered by the court. If the court denies the request, the bond may be applied to the fine and costs.