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Michigan Towing Laws | The Sam Bernstein Law Firm

An Overview of Michigan Towing Laws

January 4, 2019

Exciting adventures await when you hitch a boat, RV or travel trailer to your vehicle and take to the open road. Whether you are spending the day at a nearby lake or traveling to a faraway metropolis, it is important to make sure you are familiar with the basic Michigan towing laws before beginning your journey.

Title and Registration Requirements

Trailers that weigh more than 2,500 lbs., as well as all trailer coaches, must have a title issued by the Secretary of State. Michigan towing laws require all trailers, regardless of weight, to be registered and display a valid license plate. Registration fees are based on the weight of the trailer.

License plates issued for trailers are permanent and non-transferable.

Trailer coaches such as pop-up campers, travel trailers and fifth wheel campers must be both registered and titled regardless of weight. Trailers heavier than 9,999 lbs. are subject to different classifications and safety rules.

Mandatory Safety Features

Michigan towing laws require trailers to be equipped with the following:

  • At least one working tail light
  • Minimum tire tread of 2/32”
  • A light illuminating the trailer license plate
  • Rear wheel mud flaps
  • Trailers weighing 2,500 lbs. or more must have turn signals and two red or amber rear stop lights visible from at least 100 feet at night and during the day
  • Vehicles with a gross weight of less than 3,000 lbs. must have a single stoplight if the trailer’s load obscures the stop light on the towing vehicle
  • Trailers under 3,000 lbs. must also have two red rear reflectors

Larger trailers (3,000 lbs. or heavier) must have the following equipment:

  • One rear stop light
  • An amber reflector near the front of each side of the trailer
  • A red reflector near the back of each side of the trailer
  • Two amber clearance lights on the front of the vehicle and one on each side, visible from at least 500 feet
  • Single red clearance lights near the rear of each side of the trailer
  • Two red clearance lights on the back of the trailer
  • Working brakes (trailers weighing over 5,500 lbs. must have brakes strong enough to stop the trailer’s movement and hold it in place)

Rules for “Recreational Doubles”

Michigan towing law (Section 721 of the Michigan Vehicle Code) provides properly equipped pickup trucks to tow “recreational doubles.” This term refers to a pickup truck pulling a fifth-wheel trailer, designed for recreational living purposes, with a second trailer attached to the rear of the fifth-wheel trailer. The pickup truck must have a towing rating equal to, or greater than the weight of the trailers it is towing.

Licensing Requirements

To operate a recreational double, drivers must have an “R” endorsement on their license. Applicants 18 or older may apply for this endorsement at a Michigan Secretary of State office. A written test is required. There are additional regulations governing weight, the combined length of the three units and other safety features.

“If you plan on towing a trailer, brush up on Michigan towing laws and check trailer brake lights and turn signals before you go,” said Mark Bernstein of The Sam Bernstein Law Firm. “And if you or a loved one is injured in an accident involving a trailer or any motor vehicle, call us to get the benefits you and your family deserve.”

Accident law is complicated, but finding the right lawyer is simple.

Call 1-800-CALL-SAM today for a free, no-obligation consultation.