If your license has been revoked, denied, or suspended, you should not drive. But the reality is that people in Michigan rarely have access to public transportation. Thus resulting in people in Michigan being charged with driving while license suspended (DWLS) or revoked (DWLR) every day. The best advice we can give is to simply not drive while your license is suspended or evoked, but that advice often isn’t enough because driving, in Michigan, is essential to everyday life.
If you or a loved one has been charged with driving while license suspended or revoked, it is important to take steps to defend yourself right away. Hiring a successful driver’s license attorney will help your chances significantly.
Michigan allows for the suspension and/or revocation of a driver’s license in many different situations. For example, your license could be suspended if you were convicted of certain misdemeanor or felony offense, if you failed to pay fines/costs as a result of traffic tickets, if you failed to appear for court or a comply with child-support orders, if you accumulated too many points on your driving record, if the SOS determined you were mentally or physically unable to drive safely.
MCL 257.904 is the Michigan statute governing driving while license suspended or revoked crimes. To be convicted under MCL 257.904, the prosecutor must prove three things beyond a reasonable doubt: 1. That you were operating a motor vehicle, 2. That you were operating that vehicle on a highway or in another place open to the public, and 3. That your driver’s license was suspended or revoked at the time.
Additionally, the prosecutor must prove that you knew or should have known that your license was suspended or revoked. Often times, this requires proof that the Secretary of State notified you of the suspension or revocation.
The possible penalties for DWLS or DWLR can be severe and each court and Judge approach these charges and penalties for them differently. For first time offenders you can be found guilty of a misdemeanor and could face up to 93 days in jail, up to a $500 fine, or both. For second offenders, you could face up to a year in jail, up to a $1,000 fine, or both. In addition to these penalties, you could face continued license suspension or revocation and often, a lengthy probation term.
Many people do not understand the severity of a driving while license suspended conviction. A successful defense to these charges depends on experience. An experienced driver’s license attorney will investigate whether law enforcement may have violated your constitutional rights, did they have a right to pull you over and stop you, were you actually operating the motor vehicle, were you actually on a highway, did you actually know your license was suspended, etc.
Under MCL 257.904(15), “A person who operates a vehicle solely for the purpose of protecting human life or property if the life or property is endangered and summoning promptly aid is essential” cannot be prosecuted for driving while license suspended or revoked. Therefore, if you were driving due to an emergency situation, you cannot be convicted of driving while license suspended or revoked. Our experienced criminal defense and driver’s license attorneys know how to fight these cases.
However, not all cases can result in a straightforward dismissal. In those situations, it is possible that the best outcome is negotiating a plea agreement. We often see cases where we are able to successful reduce a driving while license suspended charge to a charge of “Allowing An Unlicensed Person to Operate” under MCL 257.904 or a charge for “No Ops” under MCL 257.301. These offenses are still misdemeanors; however, they do not come with the required license suspension and will not add additional points to your record. Often times, we are able to negotiate for these reductions in conjunction with no probation, so you can pay a fine and be on your way.
If you or a loved one has been charged with driving while licenses suspended or revoked, it is important that you take immediate action. Our attorneys work directly with our clients, no middle man, to determine what led to the charges and what strategies we can use to best present your defense.
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