By Shelby Stewart
Brandon Twp.- An upcoming law change could ease up on minors in possession first offense.
Beginning January of 2018, the rewrite of the current township ordinance pertaining to a minor in possession will take place after a 6-0 vote by the board of trustees Monday. Trustee Dana DePalma was absent with notice.
The state of Michigan passed a law to decriminalize minor in possession and change the first offense from a misdemeanor to a civil infraction. What this means is that according to the law, the minor could receive a fine of up to $100, possible recommendation for substance abuse treatment and community service. Though the drivers license won’t be suspended on the first offence, the civil infraction will however be posted on their driving record.
“It keeps the minor from receiving a criminal charge on their first offence,” said Oakland County Sheriff’s Office Brandon substation commander Lieutenant Greg Glover. “I think that’s a good thing.”
Glover said at the meeting that the reason amending the local ordinance instead of just following state law is that police officers can write a ticket instead of having to draft up their report and warrant and take it down to the county prosecutor’s office to present it, which saves the officers time and the township money in overtime wages.
“There are a lot of advantages to doing things under local ordinance for us,” he said. “I think that if the township board wants us to write everything under state law, we can do that, but it’s going to take a detective out of the township almost on a daily basis.”
The benefit of rewriting the local ordinance was clear to the board and they voted unanimously to do the rewrite.
“Usually once is enough to scare them straight,” added Glover. “I’m not into seeing every kid hit with a misdemeanor charge on their first offence.”
Though the first offence is a civil infraction, the second offence would be a misdemeanor charge and would result in a fine up to $200 and possible jail time up to 30 days, as well as a licence suspension for 90 days. A third offence would be a misdemeanor as well with a heftier fine and more jail time possible and a year suspension of a driver’s license.
The state law and the ordinance take effect January 2018.