Driving on a Suspended License

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What is Driving on a Suspended License?

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MCL 257.904 states: (1) A person whose operator's or chauffeur's license or registration certificate has been suspended or revoked, whose application for license has been denied, or who has never applied for a license, shall not operate a motor vehicle on a highway or other place open to the general public or generally accessible to motor vehicles, including an area designated for the parking of motor vehicles, within this state.

Simply, if you have a suspended or revoked driver’s license, you cannot drive any motor vehicle on a public road. This means a car, truck, RV, motorized scooter, in any public space – whether it is your vehicle or someone else’s vehicle. If you do so, you risk having the vehicle impounded, facing jail time, a large fine, and additional Driver’s License penalties. While some people are aware of why their license is suspended, others may not be. Several offenses can cause your license to be suspended and if you do not take care of the Secretary of State requirements once those suspensions are complete, your license will remain suspended. 

Some common criminal offenses that can lead to a suspended or revoked license include:

Civil violations like driving without insurance, failing to pay a civil fine or appear in court, or providing false statements to the Secretary of State can also cause your driver’s license to be suspended. Further, drivers who are deemed medically unfit and those who otherwise fail to meet the qualifications to obtain their driver’s license may also have their driver’s license suspended, revoked, canceled, or refused to them. 

 Penalties for Driving on a Suspended License

MCL 257.904(a) states: For a first violation, by imprisonment for not more than 93 days or a fine of not more than $500.00, or both. Unless the vehicle was stolen or used with the permission of a person who did not knowingly permit an unlicensed driver to operate the vehicle, the registration plates of the vehicle shall be canceled by the secretary of state on notification by a peace officer. (b) For a violation that occurs after a prior conviction, by imprisonment for not more than 1 year or a fine of not more than $1,000.00, or both. Unless the vehicle was stolen, the registration plates of the vehicle shall be canceled by the secretary of state on notification by a peace officer.

Further, your vehicle could be impounded, you could face probation time, and have points assessed against your driver’s license which may subject you to increased insurance rates. 

Defenses to Driving on a Suspended License

No Criminal Intent – The driving under a suspended license statute is a strict liability offense, meaning, there is no mental requirement that you intended to drive with a suspended license – you either did it or did not do it. However, if you did not know your license was suspended and/or it was suspended in error or the suspension was completed but not reflected on your driving record, these may be possible defenses to the charge. 

Lack of Evidence – The state must prove all crimes “beyond a reasonable doubt.” The state’s evidence may be deficient so they would not be able to proceed and prove that you were driving with a suspended license. For example, if your license was not actually suspended or was illegally suspended at the time, this is a defense to the charge. 

Constitutional Violations – If the police violated your rights in any way, such as if you did not make a moving violation and the officer stopped you, ran your record and cited you, it is likely that the officer did not have a constitutional reason to stop you. This can lead to a potential challenge and defense to the charge. 

Necessity based on an Emergency – if there was a medical or other type of emergency that required you to drive to protect another person, that may be used as a possible defense to the charge.

Experienced and Skilled Traffic Attorneys in Grand Rapids Serving Western Michigan

If you have been charged with Driving While License Suspended, Revoked, or Denied under MCL 257.904, it is important that you hire an experienced criminal defense attorney. At Tanis Schultz we fight to have your charge dismissed or lowered. Contact our office today to discuss your options. We offer free confidential consultations. 


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