Driving on a Suspended or Revoked License in Michigan

Suspended License cases are a BIG deal!

In my legal practice some of the most common criminal charges I come across on a weekly basis are Driving While License Suspended (DWLS) or Driving While License Revoked (DWLR).

Although Driving While License Suspended may seem like a less serious offense than Driving While License Revoked they both, in fact, violate the same rule of law. A person’s License can be suspended for all kinds of reasons. The most common are unpaid traffic tickets, failure to show up in Court, and a Drunk Driving or a Drug case. A person’s license is usually revoked for multiple Drunk Driving Convictions, or other more serious crimes. Since both charges are technically violating the same rule of law, the punishment is identical. In fact, in many jurisdictions, the Police will quite correctly write up the Offense as DWLS/DWLR on the citation.

The majority of clients think that this charge is no big deal or can be ignored. This is far from the truth as there will be many short term and long term repercussions such as the possibility of jail time! Amongst those, defendants who are convicted of DWLS/DWLR will face mandatory driver responsibility fees in the amount of $1,000.00, additional license suspension or revocation and 2 points will be added to the offender’s driving record. In addition, the following penalties can also be imposed:

First Offense, DWLS/DWLR

Up to a $500 fine, or up to 93 days in jail, or both.

Second Offense, DWLS/DWLR

Up to a $1,000 fine, or up to 1 year in jail, or both.

Vehicle may be immobilized for up to 180 days.

Third Offense, DWLS/DWLR

Up to a $1,000 fine, or up to 1 year in jail, or both.

If there are 2 prior convictions within 7 years: License plate confiscation & Vehicle immobilization for 90 to 180 days.

Anytime I am retained on a DWLS/DWLR charge there are particular goals that I attempt to achieve for my client. These include avoiding any jail time, reduction of the charge, reduction in points on client’s driving record, and avoidance of further mandatory suspension & Driver’s Responsibility Fees by the Secretary of State.

These cases rarely hinge on any legal argument as a DWLS/DWLR charge is essentially a “Layup” for the prosecution. To attain a favorable plea agreement that will lessen the aforementioned penalties, I attempt to find the cause of the Suspension/Revocation and correct that problem prior to entering into plea negotiations. Usually the suspension is due to unpaid traffic tickets or unpaid Driver Responsibility Fees. Once the traffic record is cleared there is a better argument for leniency from the Prosecuting Attorney. In essence, in cases such as these I need to be the ultimate diplomat for my client and communicate the facts pertaining to my client’s improvement as well as possible. Being cordial, charismatic, and respectful will always attain a better result than getting into a shouting match over cases such as these. Many courts are taking these matters more seriously and the threat of jail time is increased with continued avoidance of the matter.

Often times these charges are rooted in a person having to make the grueling decision between following the Law and not driving OR driving illegally to work and other essential places for their loved ones. Many clients feel as if they have no choice but to drive illegally due to having to provide for their families. In my practice, I attempt to lessen the penalties associated with these charges, get my client back on the road (legally of course) as soon as possible, and take the choice between following the law and providing for their family out of the equation. In the long term, I am avoiding a situation in which their License can only be restored after a Secretary of State hearing that cannot be heard until at least one year down the road!

Please feel free to contact me with any legal questions or concerns.