Suspended/Revoked License (DWLS/DWLR) Charges in the Detroit Area

August 5, 2013

Almost everything I do in my role as a Michigan driver's license restoration attorney and a Detroit-area (meaning Metropolitan Detroit, Tri-County) DUI and suspended license lawyer has something to do with automobiles and traffic stops. Everyday, I represent either someone trying to win back a Michigan driver's license (or at least obtain a clearance of the Michigan hold on their driving record), someone facing a DUI, someone charged with driving on a suspended license in the Detroit area, or even a person charged with possession of marijuana (or other drugs or weapons) found as a result of a traffic stop. In short, virtually everything I do involves motor vehicles. Many of my clients are trying to get back on the road, some face being taken of the road, and others just got in trouble while on the road. Still, there's a theme here...

When a person has had his or her Michigan driver's license suspended or revoked, and then gets caught driving, they are often unaware the potential long-term dangers that lie ahead. This has nothing to do with going to jail; I keep my clients out of jail as a matter of my day-to-day work. Instead, the real danger of a suspended or revoked license charge involves additional suspensions and added costs and financial penalties that can go on forever, and continue to multiply. There's an old saying to the effect that once a person gets caught in the system, they seem to be stuck in it forever, and while I don't completely agree with that, the cold truth is that once a person gets caught driving with a suspended or revoked license, unless things are made better and fixed right away, he or she can get become ensnared in a tangle that never seems to let go. As some people put it, once you're on the roller coaster, you can't get off.

Suspended 1.2.jpgIf there's a brutal lesson to be learned here, it's that the best time to hire a suspended license lawyer like me is the first time you face such a charge. Too many people, acting on the mistaken belief that a first offense for driving on a suspended license isn't that big a deal, will just go with a public defender, or, worse yet, will handle things on their own. Meanwhile, while their first concern is staying out of jail, they'll lose sight of the long range consequences that the wrong kind of plea deal can bring, and will accept a plea bargain that simply avoids jail, and/or even avoids points on their driving record, not realizing that such a disposition will, in many cases, cause their license to be suspended or revoked further.

At the time, this often doesn't seem so serious, and the person thinks he or she can either get rides of the next year or years, or will be careful (and lucky) enough to not get caught driving, if they must. But this doesn't usually work out. As far as luck goes, anyone having to think about these things in the first place will require a drastic change in luck right out of the gate. To put it another way, if luck had anything to do with it, you wouldn't be in this boat to begin with.

The reality of life is that you need to drive. With only the rarest of exceptions, not being able to drive limits everything you can and/or will do. The longer you're without a valid license, the more you won't be able to do, like look for or accept a better job, or the more chance you'll have to take to get and hold on to those things. While there are lots of exceptions, it does seem that once a person gets caught driving without a license, things begin to pile up, and those things almost always involve more suspended and revoked license charges. Everyone to whom this happens was rather sure that it wouldn't, but then it did. It's just better to do things right the first time so that you can keep your license, or, if you don't have one, get it back sooner, rather than later.

In those cases where a person has handled his or her own suspended or revoked license case the first time, or has used a public defender, or some lawyer for whom the nuances of Michigan's driving laws (know as the motor vehicle code) aren't an everyday thing, the deal that seemed good enough back then turns out to have set up a real problem if the person ever faces another driving charge down the road. Part of this problem is that most people feel confident that they'll never have another similar situation again, but that's not how real life works.

When I handle a suspended license charge, or a revoked license charge, I have to think long range, even if the client doesn't. There are many situations where even if a person comes to court for a suspended license charge having already reinstated his or her license, any kind of moving violation will trigger another suspension, meaning that the license he or she just paid to reinstate will be taken away all over again. Sometimes, a moving violation in such a situation can trigger what's called a "mandatory additional" revocation, meaning that the person will lose his or her license for another year, or even five years, before he or she becomes eligible to file a license appeal to get it back, and, on top of everything else, will have to explain to the I cost money and the court costs money. Given that a suspended or revoked license charge will cost a minimum of $1000 in driver responsibility fees paid to the state of Michigan, and that, in almost all cases where that's any kind of concern, I can avoid them, those savings go a long way to paying my fee. In other cases, where a person has a really bad record with lots of prior suspended and/or revoked license convictions, then staying out of jail become more important than Secretary of State fees. All the same, not going to jail is really a bargain at any price, and my fee ($1400 in suspended and revoked license cases) will certainly feel that way.

The upshot to all of this is that if you're facing a suspend or revoked license charge in Macomb, Oakland or Wayne County, you should really do your homework, learn the implications of what you're facing, and find a lawyer, like me, who likewise understands the short and long-range consequences of your situation. In my case, I know the Judges of all the courts in which I practice very well, and can usually provide a very good idea of how you're case will work out.

In the final analysis, few, if any people that hire a first rate Detroit area suspended license lawyer for a first (or subsequent) suspended or revoked license charge regret their decision, but loads who didn't will later. Beyond just managing and minimizing consequences, when I'm hired, I take into account what it will take to get my client back on the road again, legally, and as soon as possible. If you already have a license, then I need to make sure you can keep it. These considerations need to be placed at the very top of the heap as you deal with a suspended or revoked license charge, because as long as you don't have a valid license, your future prospects will be limited.