Will police respond to parking lot fender benders, or issue speeding tickets in parking lots?
Behind the Blue Line — Michigan State Police Trooper Duane Zook takes your law enforcement questions
Question: I have some questions about shopping center parking lots. I’ve heard that police decline to come to parking lot fender benders. Is that true? How about if there is an injury? Also, what about shopping center speed limits, stop signs, etc. If a police officer sees a violation in a parking lot, can the officer issue a ticket?
Answer: Michigan Law 257.620 reads: “The driver of any vehicle which collides upon either public or private property with any vehicle which is attended or unattended shall immediately stop and shall then and there either locate and notify the operator or owner of such vehicle of the name and address of the driver and owner of the vehicle striking the vehicle or, if such owner cannot be located, shall forthwith report it to the nearest or most convenient police officer”.
With that being said, if you are involved in a non-injury fender bender on private property, you don’t need to contact police unless of course you cannot find the owner of the other vehicle.
If you leave the scene and contact police, you let law enforcement and the other vehicle owner know that your intent was to report the accident.
By reporting the accident to police or the vehicle owner, you clear yourself from any criminal element in regards to a “hit and run”.
When police are contacted, they have the ability to locate the owner of the vehicle by going to the owner's address or by contacting him or her by phone. Under Michigan law, police agencies do not have to fill out a police report for private property fender benders.
However, some police agencies will provide you with an accident report depending on that agency's policy for handling private property accidents. When injury is involved or the fender-bender resulted from intoxication or illegal drug use by the driver, a police report shall be completed. Hit-and-run accidents also should be reported.
As for speeding tickets, a police officer cannot enforce speed limits by issuing a citation for speed or for running that stop sign in a parking lot, however police can and more than likely will issue citations for reckless driving, which is a misdemeanor criminal offense.
An officer can issue civil infraction citations for parking along a fire lane, parking in handicap parking, etc. Speed enforcement and stop signs cannot be enforced based on the fact that parking lots are not considered a “highway” or “roadway.”
Misdemeanor driving offenses such as reckless driving and driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs are enforceable on private property, however.
Do you have a question you want answered? Every Tuesday, I'll post the answers to your questions here. Send me a question at firstname.lastname@example.org.