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Driving While License Suspended

Driving While License Suspended or Revoked in Michigan is a misdemeanor offense (according to MCL 257.904(3)(a)) that carries a maximum potential jail sentence of up to 93 days, and/or a possible fine of up to $500, for a first time offender (this offense is also sometimes referred to as DWLS, DWLR, Driving on a Suspended, Driving on A Suspended License, and Driving When Revoked). In instances where the driver has a prior conviction for Driving While License Suspended, the Prosecutor usually charges the driver with Driving While License Suspended or Revoked Second or Subsequent Offense (MCL 257.904(3)(b)). If the offense is charged in this manner, the potential punishment increases to up to 1 year in jail, and/or a fine of up to $1,000. A conviction for Driving While License Suspend can occur in instances either where the driver (who once had driving privileges) lost his or her driving privileges, or if the driver never obtained driving privileges through the Secretary of State in the first place.

A person can lose their driving privileges in Michigan in several ways, including (but not limited to): a conviction for a drinking and driving offense; a conviction for drug offenses (even offenses that do not involve driving. In instances where the Defendant receives HYTA or section 7411 status, the Defendant can avoid the driver’s license sanction); a conviction for automobile related felony/high misdemeanor offenses such as Fleeing and Eluding, Unlawful Driving Away a Automobile, etc.; too many points on driving record; failure to pay tickets; failure to pay driver responsibility fees; failure to pay child support; etc. A conviction for Driving While License Suspended or Revoked (or any other criminal offense that calls for suspension or revocation of driving privileges) at the time that the driver’s license is already suspended will result in an additional amount of time until the driver can petition for the restoration of his or her driving privileges.

When an accident occurs in which the driver with a suspended or revoked license causes the death of another person while operating a motor vehicle (MCL 257.904(4)), the offense becomes a felony with a potential punishment of up to 15 years in prison, and/or a fine from $2,500 to $10,000. If another person has a serious impairment of a body function based upon an accident caused by a suspended or revoked driver(MCL 257.904(5)), the punishment for this driving offense is a felony, punishable by up to 5 years in prison and/or a fine from $1,000 to $5,000 dollars. Whenever a death or serious injury occurs in an accident, there is always the potential for a high amount of restitution. An award of restitution does not prevent the accident victim from filing a civil lawsuit to obtain money damages from the driver. The Judge also must order that the vehicle involved in the accident be either immobilized or forfeited if the vehicle wasn’t destroyed in the accident. Transferring a vehicle to avoid forfeiture (MCL 257.625n(10) is a misdemeanor punishable by up to 1 year in jail and/or a fine up to $1,000. In instances where the owner or possessor of the vehicle had no knowledge of the suspended or revoked person driving, or did not give permission for the driver to use the car, the Court has the equitable power not to order immobilization or forfeiture.

District Court Judges handle Driving While License Suspended cases in different ways: some Judges are lenient, and only chose to only issue a fine; some Judges require the driver to take steps (if possible) to regain driving privileges; some Judges will place a Defendant on probation; several courts, including but not limited to Judges at the 48th District Court in Bloomfield Hills and the 52-3rd District Court in Rochester Hills, are very strict and routinely place people in jail for Driving While License Suspended. A conviction for a Driving While License Suspended related offense will always result in consequences to your driver's license, and driver's responsibility fees in addition to the fees and costs ordered by the sentencing Judge.

Unfortunately, for some persons it is almost impossible to gain driving privileges back based upon their prior criminal and/or driving history, and/or the amount of money necessary to pay off tickets and driver responsibility fees. In Michigan, with the current state of our public transportation system, it is almost impossible for someone to maintain a good job without having a car. Indeed, for some individuals Driving While License Suspended or Revoked is both a way of life and a matter of survival.

Defenses to Driving While License Suspended or Revoked include: necessity (if a person is driving a car solely for the purpose of protecting human life or property if the property is endangered and summoning aid is essential, it is not a crime according to MCL 257.904(15)); mistaken identity as to the driver; and reasonable doubt. The Prosecutor has the sole burden of proving his or her case, including the status of the driver’s license at the time.

It is also a criminal offense for a car owner (or car possessor) to allow another driver to operate a motor vehicle if he or she knows that the driver has a suspended or revoked license, or knows that the driver never obtained a driver’s license. The penalties for this are the same as Driving While License Suspended or Revoked and Driving While License Suspended or Revoked Second or Subsequent Offense. If an accident occurs under these circumstances resulting in death, the owner of the vehicle could be charged with a felony punishable by up to 5 years in prison, and/or a fine from $1,000 to $5,000;if the accident results in the serious impairment of a body function of another person, the offense is a felony punishable by up to 2 years, and/or a fine from $1,000 to $5,000. If the owner or possessor of the car is convicted of one of these offenses, he or she is still subject to a restitution determination by the sentencing Judge, and a possible civil lawsuit.

Defenses to Allowing a Person to Drive While License Suspended or Revoked include: lack of knowledge; necessity (if a person is driving a car solely for the purpose of protecting human life or property if the property is endangered and summoning aid is essential, it is not a crime according to MCL 257.904(15)); mistaken identity as to the driver; and reasonable doubt. The Prosecutor has the sole burden of proving his or her case, including the status of the driver’s license at the time of the offense.

If charged with a Driving While License Suspended related offense, it is recommended that you first exercise your right to remain silent and second hire a skilled criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible for the following reasons: 1. You have a better chance of receiving a reasonable bail or bond through effective legal representation (if bail or bond is an issue); 2. The lawyer can prepare the case and file motions for possible dismissal (when applicable), develop defenses, and conduct a trial in a manner that gives you the best possibility of success. 3. If you plan to plead guilty, the Defense lawyer can work to achieve the best result through possible plea bargains, possible Cobbs agreements, and persuasive lawyering. In some cases a plea bargain to a different or lessor charge can eliminate the potential criminal conviction, the driver's license sanctions, and the driver's responsibility fees as it relates to this offense. Every case is different, and whether or not the factors in this paragraph apply depends upon your history, the facts of the allegation, the Prosecutor's office, and the Judge assigned to the case. 4. The lawyers at ** Hilf & Hilf, PLC, will give their best efforts to keep you out of jail and minimize any sentence imposed if you are convicted by a plea or otherwise of any criminal offense. 5. We also handle **driver's license restoration matters, and we can work together to try and formulate a course of action to help you gain or regain driving privileges. Sometimes in life you only have one opportunity to obtain the right result. ** Hiring the right criminal defense lawyer** may be one of the most important decisions you make for yourself and your family. There are many lawyers who claim to do more than what they are able - just as there are many surgeons in the world that are no better than butchers. Do not settle for a legal hack job. Practicing law is a skill that develops over time with experience, commitment, dedication, and God given talent. There are no amateur attorneys at ** Hilf & Hilf, PLC**– only professionals that are guided by the humanity in the individuals we serve, and the drive not to settle for what is easy over what is right.

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