Ann Arbor, Dearborn, Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo, Kalamazoo Twp, Muskegon, Norton Shores, Oshtemo Twp, and Portage have all adopted five-foot passing ordinances. On June 29, 2018, Governor Snyder signed PA 279 and 280 of 2018 into law, making three feet of space the statewide standard for safe passing. The new law put into question whether the new Public Acts supersede the existing local ordinances. With our partners at Bike Law Michigan, LMB sought to clarify this confusion about the law. Below is an analysis of conflicts between state and local laws. The conclusion drawn from the case law outlined below leads LMB to the opinion that the three-foot passing statute does not preempt local five-foot ordinances. Thank you to Bryan Waldman and Ted Larkin of Bike Law Michigan for their legal research into this matter.
In People v. Llewellyn, 401 Mich. 314, 322 (1977), the Supreme Court created a two-prong test for adjudicating conflicts between municipal ordinances and state statutes. A municipal ordinance is said to be preempted where (1) it is in “direct conflict with the state statutory scheme” or (2) the state statutory scheme occupies the entire “field of regulation which the municipality seeks to enter, to the exclusion of the ordinance, even where there is no direct conflict between the two schemes of regulation.” Id. In other words, a municipal ordinance will not stand if it’s in direct conflict with a state statute, or if the state has exclusive control over the area of law that the municipality has tried to enter.