Fact Check

Fine for Not Signing Michigan Car Registration

Can Michigan motorists be fined for not signing the backs of their car registrations?

Published Feb 4, 2007


Claim:   Michigan motorists can be fined for not signing the backs of their car registrations.

Status:   False.

Example:   [Collected on the Internet, January 2007]


Make sure your car registration has been signed on the back to avoid paying a $125 fine if you're ever pulled over for anything.

New legislation in Michigan.

At the Secretary of States office the customer service representative told me to please be sure that the registered owner of the vehicle signed the registration. She explained that if you are pulled over and the back of your registration is not signed (even though it is valid), you will be fined $125.00.

I was so stunned I had to clarify: "So, if I get pulled over, and even though my tags are valid, and the registration is in my possession, BUT it is not signed by the registered owner, I will be given a ticket for $125.00?" She answered YES! Apparently, this is Michigan state legislature that has recently been put into effect. Pass it on

Origins:   This

e-mail warning about "new legislation in Michigan" began circulating in December 2006. While the helpful heads-up was then correct that drivers in Michigan were required to sign the backs of their vehicle registrations as soon as they received those documents, the law in question was not new but in fact dated to at least 1949.

Section 257.223 of the Michigan Vehicle Code stated:

(1) Upon receipt of a registration certificate, the owner shall write his or her signature thereon with pen and ink in the space provided. A registration certificate shall at all times be carried in the vehicle to which it refers or shall be carried by the person driving or in control of the vehicle, who shall display the registration certificate upon demand of a police officer.

(2) A person who violates this section is responsible for a civil infraction.


portion of the vehicle code was enacted back in those long-ago days when a vehicle's title and registration were the same document, so it made sense at the time that a car owner should have to sign the document that showed he actually owned the vehicle. Those functions have since come to be served by two different documents rather than just one, so in November 2007 the Michigan legislature finally passed a bill to "eliminate the requirement that the owner of a vehicle must sign the vehicle registration certificate."

While the original e-mail asserted that the fine for not signing one's Michigan vehicle registration was $125, the amount of the penalty assessed actually varied according to local courts.

Barbara "ink is cheap, fines aren't" Mikkelson

Last updated:   19 January 2008

  Sources Sources:

    Greenwood, Tom.   "Signing Car Registration Is Pointless."

    Detroit News.   22 January 2007.

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