A new law in Michigan, moving violation causing serious impairment of a body function(MVCSIBF) was packaged with revisions to Michigan’s drunk driving law and took effect on October 31st, 2010. MVCSIBF is a misdemeanor that carries a maximum sentence in jail of 93 days and/or $500.00 fine. MCL 257.601d. In Michigan most driving sanctions are removed from the trial courts; instead handled separately by the Michigan Secretary of State. The driving sanctions, independent of the possible penalties for a misdemeanor conviction, are a 1-year mandatory driver’s license suspension, and six points accessed to the perpetrator’s driving record. In addition, the Secretary of State will impose a $1000.00 driver responsibility fee upon the perpetrator, for two years. Upon comparison, these driving sanctions are worse than a first offense drunk driving conviction.
The elements that the prosecutor must prove at trial are the following: 1) Defendant committed a moving violation; 2) the victims sustained a serious impairment of a bodily function; 3) Defendant’s operation of the vehicle was a cause in fact and proximate cause of the victim’s injury.
The fact pattern normally seen for this charge is a traffic accident on a public roadway.
Moving violation causing serious impairment of a bodily function is a difficult charge to defend. Causation, in particular, is tough because ordinary negligence by the victim is not considered a superseding cause that would sever or disrupt a proximate cause analysis. In other words, the injured person, or victim, could have committed a moving violation that contributed to the accident as well, however since the law presumes ordinary negligence on a roadway, this fact will not allow the defendant to escape criminal liability. To win an acquittal at trial by attacking the proximate cause, a defendant must show that the victim’s negligence was more than ordinary negligence, rather gross negligence, or wantonness and disregard of the consequences which may ensue. At trial, the defense attorney will have to show the victim was deliberately acting recklessly.
The other difficult element to understand is that serious injury to bodily function does not mean permanent injury. As a result, a serious blow to the head may cause injury to the eye that will cause temporary vision issues. But since the victim’s injury need not be permanent, a temporary impairment will be enough injury for the prosecutor to convict.
Seemingly there are many accidents where a driver could be charged with this misdemeanor. The facts necessary for this charge boil down to a violation of the vehicle code and the loss of use of a limb, temporary or permanent. When you think about it, how many accidents result in immobilized legs, arms, or hands. If there is a cast, sling, or the victim walks with a limp after an accident, the victim’s injury is probably enough for a conviction.
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I have seen prosecutors use this law to remove driving privileges from elderly drivers. I have no doubt that prosecutors across this state will use this charge to force elderly drivers off of the roads.
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