Vehicle Immobilization

When a motorist violates traffic legislation, insurance rules, or other laws applicable to the operation of a motor vehicle, suspension of driving privileges, including use of the car itself, can be imposed. Vehicle immobilization is one such tool used by law enforcement agencies for these purposes.

In the State of Michigan, motorists repeatedly convicted of violations for driving while intoxicated can have the use of their vehicle suspended through the process of temporary immobilization.

In addition to driving while intoxicated, if an offender has been convicted of murder, negligent homicide, or manslaughter while operating a motor vehicle, immobilization can result. If the automobile that was used during the commission of any one of these crimes was not the property of the offender, and the owner had no knowledge of the offender’s use of the vehicle, the consequence of immobilization may not be imposed.

Vehicle Immobilization is defined as the impounding, incapacitating, or immobilizing of any vehicle without the permission of the owner.

Devices used to immobilize a motor vehicle include:

  • Wheel clamps.
  • Car boots.
  • Any object or mechanism attached to the vehicle that does not allow movement.

Being that vehicle immobilization is commonly applied in the same location where the vehicle is usually housed, unless the vehicle is parked illegally and is awaiting a tow, the monetary cost imposed upon the vehicle’s owner is less in comparison to other vehicle disablement processes.

Tampering with or removal of the disabling device would be considered a violation of the court’s order and could result in the offender being held in contempt of court-a violation for which an arrest warrant would likely be issued.

As with any order that is imposed by a court or other law enforcement agency, there is always the option to appeal the ruling. Given the reduced level of imposition that vehicle immobilization causes, it is best to have a well-developed stance prior to presenting an appeal to the appropriate jurisdiction.

Upon the expiration of the order for immobilization and payment of any fees that were ordered as a result, the immobilizing device should immediately be removed.