Out-of-state drivers and roadside traffic bond

One question which always seems to come up is about posting roadside bond and how it is not considered a bribe for the officer. Michigan residents, who have out-of-state relatives who are stopped in Michigan, and cited, sometimes will hear that the officer kept the out-of-state driver’s license or asked for money. For this Michigan resident, this is very unusual to them and they wondered why this happens.

When officers are out on patrol, complete a traffic stop on an out-of-state driver, and issue a civil infraction ticket, it is common practice for that officer to collect what is called roadside traffic bond. When I was working the road regularly and asked out-of-state drivers, many were very confused as to why I was asking them for money on the side of the road. I had some say they would give me whatever was needed to keep them from going to jail and others would ask if it was asking for a bribe.

By the driver posting this roadside bond, it is not an admission of guilt, but more to get the driver to respond to the court in regards to the offense. Once the driver contacts the court, they can either complete the payment for the fine or request a court hearing to contest the offense.

Roadside traffic bond in Michigan is to ensure the appropriate court jurisdiction receives a form of payment for the offense the out-of-state driver was cited for. If that driver was allowed to leave the state and had no intention of ever returning to the state, there is potential they would not pay the citation. All bond collected by an officer on the side of the road is turned over to the appropriate court on the next business day.

There are three different forms of payments we as troopers working the road will take. In many departments, the common practice to take $100-$150 cash bond from out-of-state drivers when issuing a traffic citation. Once the citation is issued, it will indicate the amount of money that was taken, and it will serve as the driver’s receipt that they posted their traffic bond on the side of the road.

Another form is a roadside bond card. I always told drivers if they didn’t know what I was talking about, they probably didn’t have one. A roadside bond card it usually provided by your insurance company or AAA and insures they will cover the bond for the citation for the driver who will have to take care of it at a later date. The last form of payment is the person’s driver’s license who is operating the vehicle. If an out-of-state driver is unable to post the cash bond or does not have a bond card, the officer may take possession of the motorist’s license in lieu of the bond. The license is forwarded to the appropriate court and will be returned to the motorist upon payment of the citation. In the meantime, the out-of-state motorist can carry the issued citation as their license to legally operate their vehicle.

Ashley Simpson is a Community Service Trooper for the MSP Alpena Post. If you have a question for Trooper Simpson, you can email her at asktroopersimpson@gmail.com or mail them to Ask A Trooper, Michigan State Police – Alpena Post, 3283 W. Washington Ave, Alpena, MI 49707.