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Should I get a lawyer to go to court with me for a ticket for driving with a suspended license?

Paw Paw, MI |

In 2007, I was in Ann Arbor, MI and driving a borrowed van to move some furniture. I was pulled over and given tickets for expired plates and no proof of insurance. I took the tickets to the van's owner, who said he'd pay them. I returned to my new home in VA. I got notices that the tickets had not been settled yet so I paid the fines. I got notices about more fees owed, but then I also received a notice of "Clearance" on 12/06/11. I thought it was all settled. My DL expired in '08. I didn't get a new DL in VA because of my job, I don't drive anymore. I came home to MI for medical treatment, I DID drive, and got a ticket for speeding (5 over) and for DWLS! I called to find out what was owed and paid. I have court date on 4/8. I'm a woman, 58, never been to court. I'm scared.

Attorney Answers 5

  1. Obviously, as an attorney who handles this type of case, I'm biased, but hiring an attorney generally helps to acheive the best possible outcome in situations like this. An attorney will also greatly ease the anxiety of going to court. In fact, an attorney can appear on your behalf in some situations.

    Unfortunately, you're facing several possible penalties if convicted as charged. DWLS is a misdemeanor - the maximum jail term is 93 days (although jail is unlikely to be ordered overall, assuming you have a limited criminal history otherwise), $500 fine plus court fees, $1000 total in driver responsibility fees (owed over two years), and an additional license suspension. An attorney can help you make your case to both prosecutor behind the scenes (and possible work out a deal) and to the judge in the courtroom, if it comes to that.

    Feel free to contact me at (616) 439-4499 to discuss this free of charge. Good luck!

  2. Driving While License Suspended is a misdemeanor, punishable by a maximum of 93 days in jail. That doesn't mean jail is appropriate or even likely in this situation, but it is in fact a misdemeanor.

    If there is a way you can obtain a valid driver's license in Virginia or Michigan before your next court date on April 8, 2014, that would be helpful to your cause.

    Ultimately you can choose to go through this case with or without an attorney. An attorney in this situation will be there to try to mitigate the damage to you, and work to try to ultimately reduce or eliminate the misdemeanor charge. Maybe more importantly to you, the attorney will be there to take the stress off of you - to tell you what to do / when to do it / what to say / when to say it. For many people the ability to unload the stress of the situation on an attorney is worth it.

    As an attorney, I am obviously biased, and believe people in your situation should look into hiring a competent, local and experienced criminal defense attorney to try to minimize the damage as much as possible. That being said, you can certainly try to go the road alone, save the money an attorney will cost you, and see if you yourself can reduce the charges below a misdemeanor through negotiations with the Prosecuting Attorney. Overall, my experience is that those who represent themselves in these types of matters rarely know how to do so effectively though.

    At a minimum, if I were you, I would consult with a few local criminal defense attorneys (most attorney in and around Van Buren County offer free consultations).

    Best of Luck.

    An Attorney-Client relationship has not been established. Becket J. Jones is not your attorney. In order to protect your interests, you should engage with and retain a competent criminal defense attorney who practices often in the court you are scheduled to be in front of if you have been (or believe you will be) charged with a crime in the State of Michigan.

  3. I agree with my colleagues. Obviously we are biased in favor of hiring an attorney. Your situation is pretty convoluted and if nothing else I think hiring an attorney would give you peace of mind of not only avoiding dealing with the prosecutors yourself but that someone with training and experience is doing the heavy lifting for you. A good attorney will usually be able to score you a better outcome and if you did it yourself.

  4. I agree with what the others have said but, by my read, they all failed to clear up your main area of confusion: dwls is essentially the same charge as driving with an expired license. Your ticket probably doesn't pertain to your old tickets - it is about not having a license at all...

  5. You are charged with a crime. The best way to maximize your chance of a favorable outcome is to hire an attorney to appear with you and resolve the case. Otherwise, you will most likely have a criminal conviction on your record. It's too important to attempt go handle this yourself.

    This answer is legal information only. It does not create an attorney-client relationship between you and the Law Office of John Freeman, PLLC. General answers to questions on this site are not intended as a substitute for personal consultation with a qualified attorney.

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