As a Criminal Defense Lawyer whose Practice concentrates rather heavily on Driving-related matters, including DUI's, Driver's License Restorations and Suspended License Offenses, I have seen firsthand how an unfortunate choice or two can impact a person's life. This article will focus on the impact, both immediate and long-term, when a person winds up getting caught Driving on a Suspended License (DWLS), or Driving with a Revoked License (DWLR). It will be based upon my experience in those localities to which I limited Practice, meaning all of Macomb and Oakland Counties, and parts of Wayne County.
At first glance, Driving While License Suspended seems like a less serious charge than Driving While License Revoked. After all, a person's License can be Suspended for all kinds of reasons: Chief amongst them are unpaid Tickets, failure to show up in Court, and a DUI or a Drug case. A person's License is usually Revoked, however, for multiple DUI's, or really serious things. It often surprises people to learn that Driving on a Suspended License and Driving While License Revoked violate the very same rule of Law. As a result, the potential punishment for each is identical. Legally speaking, DWLS and DWLR are identical. In fact, in many jurisdictions, the Police will quite correctly write up the Offense as DWLS/DWLR.
Beyond all this legal finery, however, lies a subject that turns out to be a little deeper than it at first seems.
Of course, it's pretty safe to say that no one who gets Arrested on a Suspended or Revoked License charge ever really thought it would really happen, or, in the case of those with prior such Offenses, happen again. Everyone who gets behind the wheel and knows their License is not valid knows they're taking a risk, but figures that they'll be extra careful and will get by unnoticed. Then something happens, a Police car gets behind them with lights flashing, and they immediately get that sinking feeling in their stomach.
Over the span of my career, I have heard every reason you can imagine for why a person was driving. Most often, it centers around work. Obviously, if a person is caught driving without a License, a better reason seems to make it more "excusable." No one would say something like "I didn't have a ride to the bar, so I figured I'd drive myself." Instead, "I didn't have a ride to work, and I couldn't find one" seems to make a lot more sense.
And to a large extent, it does.
I have noted in many of my various DUI articles that how well or poorly any case turns out that won't otherwise get dismissed or "knocked out" due to some technical has a lot to do with geography. In other words, a DWLS case in the Macomb County cities of Roseville, New Baltimore or Shelby Township, or the Wayne County cities of Canton, Livonia or Westland will result in a much more lenient Sentence than one in the Oakland County cities of Rochester Hills, Bloomfield Hills or Troy.