It does not take much for a police officer to pull a car over in Michigan. Even though the 4th Amendment to the United States Constitution protects the right of the people from unreasonable searches and seizures, people still get pulled over with little justification.
Part of the reason is that the law uses words such as “unreasonable”, which gets watered down over time in favor of law enforcement. When a stop is challenged in Court, the Judge is supposed to examine the totality of the circumstances in making a decision, according to Ohio v. Robinette, 519 US 33; 117 S Ct 417 (1996). The officer must have a reasonable suspicion that the vehicle or an occupant of the vehicle was in violation of the law. Terry v. Ohio, 392 US 1; 88 S Ct 1868 (1968); People v. Williams, 236 Mich App 610 (1999).
Included in the notion of stopping someone based upon a violation of the law are things such as equipment violations. Under the Michigan Motor Vehicle Code an officer may stop and inspect a motor vehicle for an equipment violation. Michigan Compiled Law 257.715(1) states that equipment on motor vehicles must be maintained, and a uniformed police officer is able to stop a car and inspect the vehicle and issue traffic tickets for defects as long as he or she has reasonable grounds to do so. Equipment violations do not even have to be a safety violation or effect the performance of the car. For example, if the light bulb that lights up the license plate is burned out, which is a violation of Michigan Compiled Law 257.686(2), this is enough to allow a stop.