Wait? Is It Illegal to Hang Items from Your Rearview Mirror in Michigan?
Fuzzy dice, rosary beads, air freshener trees - Is it really illegal to hang these items from your rearview mirror in the state of Michigan?
Illegal may not necessarily be the word, but when it comes to hanging ornaments or items from your rearview mirror, you can be pulled over in Michigan by police. Of course, some items are exempt, such as disability cards and the like.
Still, some Michigan cities like Ann Arbor are pushing back on it a bit.
The aspect at hand is safety, as even an air freshener can obstruct just enough of a driver's view to lead to accidents. However, Ann Arbor has made a similar ordinance preventing police from pulling over drivers for a number of minor offenses if only one offense is broken unless it poses immediate harm to person(s) or property.
The ordinance change was backed by an Eastern Michigan University study showing drivers of color are stopped at higher rates.
The law itself is vague and has been challenged multiple times. In 2008, a law was struck down by a federal appeals court after a man was wrapped up in a case involving drugs, weapons and alcohol because of a 4-inch Tweety Bird air freshener hanging from his mirror. However, it appears the law is still enforced in some manner across the state as it was challenged in 2010 according to this document on the state's official government website and there's no further indication that it has been wiped from the books entirely.
In the Midwest, Ohio has a similar law on the books from 2018. However, Illinois recently struck that particular aspect of law from their own books. No longer can Illinois police pull drivers over solely for having ornaments hanging from the rearview mirror.
At the end of the day, here in Michigan, the best approach is to just be safe. A simple air freshener is not likely to get you pulled over, but if a police officer finds anything else suspicious about your vehicle or driving, there isn't much stopping them from turning on the lights and sirens. Large obstructive objects anywhere on your vehicle could have you pulled over if only to ensure the safety of those around you on or near the road.