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Posted on Tue, Apr 19, 2011 : 5:53 a.m.

Will police respond to parking lot fender benders, or issue speeding tickets in parking lots?

By Trooper Duane Zook

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



Wed, Apr 20, 2011 : 5:41 p.m.

This series of articles is useful and interesting, thanks.

another kathy

Tue, Apr 19, 2011 : 9:25 p.m.

I was "t-boned" in a Meijer lot with substantial vehicle damage to my car that it required towing. I called 911 to report that I was involved in a no apparent injury accident on private property but that my vehicle was not drivable and I'd really appreciate it if police could respond. A Pittsfield Township officer responded and after taking statements, including from one witness, issued a citation to the other driver. I was fairly certain at the time of my call that police were not obligated to respond but I'm grateful that they did. The police report also made it easier to have my deductible reimbursed.


Tue, Apr 19, 2011 : 7:03 p.m.

The whole "private property" thing seems inexplicable to me. What other illegal activity is OK if it's done on private property? If someone takes a sledge hammer to someone's car.... If someone assaults another person .... If someone commits a burglary... do the police not come because it's "on private property"? Why should wrecking someone's car in a parking lot be any different?


Tue, Apr 19, 2011 : 8:22 p.m.

An accident is not "criminal activity" unless is has to do with reckless driving, drunk driving etc. Backing out of a parking spot and hitting another car is not a crime. alot of departments will give you a form to fill out and send to your Ins company. To put a minor car accident in a parking lot on par with a burgalry, assault etc is laughable.


Tue, Apr 19, 2011 : 3:02 p.m.

I feel kind of foolish, because I've always opted to call the police for the two fender benders I was in. Once, a guy backed into me in a parking lot. Another time, a truck accelerated before I did at a traffic light and ran into me. Both times, I called police because I thought that's what you are supposed to do. Both drivers got angry. I blame my insurance company, because on all their literature the first thing it says is call the police.


Tue, Apr 19, 2011 : 4:31 p.m.

Don't feel foolish about calling. What harm is there in verifying what you should do in the event of an accident? Besides, most of the time the people involved in the accident are so flustered or distracted that it is a relief to be given guidance. The police will curtly inform you that they do not come out to accidents on public property, and tell you what you should do (come to police headquarters and fill out an accident report).

John B.

Tue, Apr 19, 2011 : 3:32 p.m.

Always call the police and obtain a police report. It may help later (to avoid "he said, he said" problems). So what if the perps are unhappy. Tell them to stop driving like doofs.


Tue, Apr 19, 2011 : 2:49 p.m.

The law needs to be changed. It's basically the wild west in any private parking lot - a game of real life bumper cars. About 6 years ago, a kid under probation with no insurance rear-ended me in the Westgate parking lot. I was inches away from a public street (in hindsight, had I known, I would have rolled into the street). I was out my $500 deductible on my 1 week old vehicle. He was out nothing on his 13 year old rusted out SUV. My ins. co at the time, State Farm, allegedly attempted to subrogate and get me the $500. Over a year later they said, tough luck. Amazingly, I convinced the kid to drive downtown to the A2 police department to file a report. It's GREAT to know that "this isn't necessary" by the way. In the report he admitted to not having insurance. The desk-jockey er, officer, verbally scolded him, and allowed hiim to drive home to Howell, MI with no citation. The system does nothing to people with no insurance, and punishes people who have it, as well as permits someone to just willy-nilly play a game of bumper cars or demoltion derby if they decide to go nuts and they have a beater and nothing to lose. Sort of like a scene from Fried Green Tomatoes.

John B.

Tue, Apr 19, 2011 : 3:30 p.m.

...and nearly one-third of my annual insurance premiums are for uninsured/underinsured motorists. Really, really annoying....


Tue, Apr 19, 2011 : 2:56 p.m.

I realize the punchline of the movie reference is that the "careless" driver "has more insurance", but I was more making a point about parking lots and going nuts.


Tue, Apr 19, 2011 : 1:06 p.m.

I assume our trooper knows the difference between reckless and careless driving. Reckless driving requires intent to damage/injure property/people or a knowing disregard for safety and is a misdemeanor. Careless driving doesn't require that intent/knowledge and is a civil infraction. Most of what you see in a parking lot probably falls into the second category. See <a href=",1607,7-123-1593_47093_25802-113048--,00.html" rel='nofollow'>,1607,7-123-1593_47093_25802-113048--,00.html</a>


Tue, Apr 19, 2011 : 1:06 p.m.

I was under the impression that failure to report (to police) a fender bender causing $500 worth of property damage or more was a felony under Michigan law. Is this incorrect?


Tue, Apr 19, 2011 : 6:24 p.m.

I wish that were true. Is it? I would say very few fender benders result in less than $500 damage, so we'd have to report virtually everything but a love tap.

UM Rocks

Tue, Apr 19, 2011 : 12:52 p.m.

I would like a little clarity on the private property issue. I have been told that if an accident occurs in a parking structure (namely Fourth and William) that the police will not come because it is private property and the parties would have to go to the police station to make a report. Any truth to this?


Tue, Apr 19, 2011 : 11:06 a.m.

&quot;An officer can issue civil infraction citations for parking along a fire lane, parking in handicap parking, etc. &quot; Oh how I wish we had the personnel and resources to enforce these two infractions. Nothing seems to bother me more when shopping than to see people park their cars in a fire lane in front of the store, or watch someone pull into a handicap spot, quickly hang a handicap flag from their rearview mirror, hop out and walk briskly inside to do their shopping. These seem so emblematic of our declining regard for others or our increasing sense of entitlement.


Tue, Apr 19, 2011 : 1:55 p.m.

Don&quot;t be so quick on a judgement on a person that has a handicap permit. I have some very bad asthma, cold weather set it off very fast, very humid weather is hard too breath heavy air. Plus some people have some very bad Osteoporsis works in both Female and Male. And that is something you do not see only feel! So do not judge a book by the cover, When you can not see the insides............ Same with a person with COPD...


Tue, Apr 19, 2011 : 12:41 p.m.

IMHO, you shouldn't be allowed a driving handicap sticker unless you have problems walking. Having a fake arm or a mental disorder should not grant you front door parking privileges. And I'm with DDOT1962. It's incredibly irritating to see that happen.


Tue, Apr 19, 2011 : 12:38 p.m.

The handicap permits are not obtained without a standard that qualifyies the individual to use these spaces. Mental Illnesses cannot be seen. Many driver's have no obvious symptoms and be going through chemotherapy or the like. My hope is that they are still able to smile and be positive through their ordeals. I wouldn't trade places with them for a parking spot.


Tue, Apr 19, 2011 : 11:16 a.m.

Don't be so quick to judge physical handicaps that aren't overtly apparent. There are lots of folks that justly use handicap parking that have disabilities that don't include a limp or standard wheelchair.


Tue, Apr 19, 2011 : 10:37 a.m.

Good information to know, Trooper Zook. Thank you for the clarification.