Recently in Driving While License Suspended 1st Offense Category

February 27, 2012

Driving on a Suspended (DWLS) or Revoked (DWLR) License in Michigan

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.

DLGreen copy2.1.jpgBeyond 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.

Continue reading "Driving on a Suspended (DWLS) or Revoked (DWLR) License in Michigan" »

September 23, 2011

Dealing with a Suspended License (DWLS) Charge in Macomb, Oakland or Wayne County

Within my Practice as a Criminal and DUI Lawyer, I handle Driving While License Suspended (DWLS) charges quite frequently. DWLS is perhaps one of, if not the single most common "Criminal" charges to go through the Court system. This article will be about the run-of-the-mill, Joe-basic DWLS charge.

In previous blog articles, I have explained the various categories of DWLS charges, from 1st to 2nd (or subsequent) Offense. I have also examined how DWLS is different from Driving While License Revoked (DWLR), even though the two Offenses carry essentially the same penalties, and are part of the very same provision of the Law.

MSP1.jpgHere, we're going to concentrate on the everyday, garden-variety DWLS charge. This is the kind of case that shows up regularly in my Office, and in Lawyer's Offices everywhere. To be clear, much of what we're going to examine applies to 2nd Offenses and to DWLR charges, but to keep this article down to manageable size, we'll restrict our focus to those cases in which the charge is DWLS.

Note that I did not use the term "DWLS 1st Offense." A person may have had a prior DWLS charge, or even a few. That, however, does not mean that they are always subsequently charged with a 2nd Offense. In fact, in many cases, a person with 1 or more prior cases winds up simply charged with "Driving While License Suspended (DWLS)."

And that's as good a place as any to jump off and ask why that's the case? Why are there so many DWLS cases in the first place, and why do so many people with prior Offenses NOT get charged with a 2nd or subsequent Offense?

Not surprisingly, the answer boils down to one word: Money. DWLS charges are money-makers for municipalities. In fact, if you want to be a bit cynical about it, they're pure money. While some have (not incorrectly) called DUI cases "cash cows," DWLS cases might comparatively be called "pure profit pigs."

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August 2, 2010

Driving While License Suspended in Michigan - Dealing With Multiple Cases

It seems that Driving While License Suspended cases have been steadily increasing, at least in the Macomb, Oakland and Wayne County area. Likewise, I have seen a noticeable jump in the number of multiple-offense cases amongst those who have to deal with this charge. In a previous blog article, I pointed out that I am often asked about "package deals" in multiple offense cases. Of course, I'm always willing to work with someone regarding Fees in a multiple offense situation

Most often, a person will have an older DWLS case in one city, and a newer one somewhere else. This can create a certain logistical problem, and part of my job as a Lawyer is work that out for the Client. Here's what I mean:

GR.jpgOften, the Client will have a Warrant out in one or both cases. Let's examine that situation. Say a person has 2 DWLS charges. The first is in Fraser (Which is heard in the Roseville Court), and the second is in Warren. For whatever reason, they want to take care of these now (as opposed to earlier...). They come and see me. I need to contact each City and see if there is, in fact, a Warrant out in either case, and, if so, if there is a cash Bond amount that can be posted to have that Warrant recalled.

Now, let's say that person has a Warrant in both Fraser and Warren. If they were to walk into the Warren Court and try to take care of that Warrant, it would turn up that they also have a Fraser Warrant. Instead of leaving Warren on their own, they would be held for Fraser to come and pick them up on that Warrant.

This example is based on a real case I'm handling right now. My Client had a Warrant in both Fraser and Warren. I called the Courts in each city, and learned that Fraser had a $1000 cash Bond that could be posted. Warren, on the other hand, had a $2500, 10% Bond, meaning that $250 would be required to have the Warrant recalled and the matter set for a Court date.

Because most people don't have loads of cash just sitting around, my Client and I decided that she'd have the $250 Bond posted in her name in Warren, and that we'd go to Fraser together where I would be able to present her for Arraignment on the outstanding Warrant and likely get her release on either a Personal (meaning no money), or a much smaller cash Bond.

Had she been pulled over or otherwise had any Police contact before these things were straightened out, she'd have been taken into Custody and likely transferred from one city to the next over the course of several days.

Given that most people can have a Probationary Sentence imposed in one of these cases, that Jail time would have been time wasted. For my Client, in may have cost her job, and would have been terribly upsetting.

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March 5, 2010

Driving While License Suspended in Michigan - 1st Offense in Macomb, Oakland or Wayne County - Part 2

Part 1 of this article focused on defining a DWLS 1st Offense charge, and what the law sets forth as possible consequences for such a charge. In part 2 of this article, we're going to talk about the real consequences of a DWLS 1st Offense charge, and what can be done to avoid them, and perhaps the whole DWLS charge altogether.

While there are exceptions, pretty much all DWLS cases involve someone getting pulled over and caught driving. In that sense, the usual Client is caught "red handed," as the term goes, and there are seldom any evidentiary issues to challenge, except, occasionally, the underlying Police reason for the Traffic Stop.

dc-police-car2.jpgTherefore, in the usual, garden-variety DWLS 1st Offense case, a person has been pulled over for some reason and is found to have their License Suspended. Most of the time, they'll be arrested and taken back to the Police Station, but sometimes, they'll be let go with a Citation (Ticket). Of course, they're not let go to keep driving; either someone in the car with a valid license will have to drive, or they'll be allowed to call someone to come and pick them up. Depending on the circumstances, the car may or may not be impounded.

After all of that, they start looking for a Lawyer. They want to know several things, and first among them is whether or not they can be kept out of Jail. Good news here; unless the person has a really horrible prior Record, a 1st Offense DWLS is almost a slam-dunk for staying out of Jail. In fact, I cringe when people sometimes tell me some Lawyer or other told them he or she would keep them out of Jail. To me, that's like a Dentist telling a person with a cavity that because of the filling they can put in, they'll keep the person from getting brain-cancer. In fact, I can't remember anyone I've ever represented even coming close to going to Jail on a DWLS 1st Offense charge.

Okay, so we know that in all but the rarest of rare cases, we're not talking about Jail. Next on anyone's list is (or at least should be) what can be done to avoid all the other consequences (Mandatory Additional License Suspensions, Points, Driver Responsibility Fees, etc.)? The answer to that question depends, more than anything, on the driver's prior Record. If the person gets a DWLS 1st charge after having ignore 22 Tickets in 14 different Cities, and has 20 outstanding Suspensions for failure to take car of any of them, their chances of working out a deal to avoid all the consequences of a DWLS are a lot slimmer than a person who has 1 or 2 (or even 3 or 4) outstanding unpaid Tickets that have resulted in Suspensions.

Continue reading "Driving While License Suspended in Michigan - 1st Offense in Macomb, Oakland or Wayne County - Part 2" »

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March 3, 2010

Driving While License Suspended in Michigan - 1st Offense in Macomb, Oakland or Wayne County - Part 1

Driving While License Suspended cases have always been a large part of my Practice, and the sheer number of such cases has been rising over the last several years. The economy has prevented many people from paying off or otherwise dealing with Traffic Tickets, which then results in a "FCJ" or Failure to Comply with Judgment" Suspension of their License. Even those who handle their Traffic Tickets are sometimes unable to pay the Driver's Responsibility Fees, or what's known as the "bad drivers tax." When those Fees are not paid, the Driver's License is Suspended.

There are, of course, lots of other reasons why a person's License may be Suspended. In this article, we'll discuss some issues regarding Driving While License Suspended (DWLS) 1st Offense cases, and how that can affect a person's ability to get their License reinstated. In the next article, we'll examine how this works in cases of Driving While License Suspended (DWLS) 2nd and Subsequent offense. After that, and as this series of articles continues, we'll see how all this works in Driving While License Revoked (DWLR) cases.

statepolice2.jpgThe 2 terms DWLS and DWLR are sometimes confused, and despite being part of the same law, are very different, and carry very different consequences. So, to define our subject here, we're talking about matters involving Suspended, and not Revoked Licenses, and Parts 1 and 2 of this article will deal with DWLS 1st Offenses.

Let's clarify one more thing; I only handle DWLS and DWLR cases where the charge is pending in a Court in Macomb, Oakland or Wayne County. A recent exception to that limitation only served to reinforce my decision to limit my Criminal Practice to the Tri-County area (this geographic limitation does not apply to my License Restoration or Bankruptcy Practices). Thus, what you read here is how things work in the Detroit area. Some or all of it may apply elsewhere, but I have no inclination or interest in finding out to what extent that is or is not true.

Suspended License cases come in several different flavors. Some cases, like those that we'll be examining in this article, involve a "1st Offense," meaning that the person charged has no prior DWLS cases. Some people, however, do have "priors," and the number of those "priors" can range from 1 prior to many. Not to swap war stories, but perhaps the highest number of prior suspensions I have seen on a Client's record was over 60! Long story about that one, but I kept the guy out of Jail.

Continue reading "Driving While License Suspended in Michigan - 1st Offense in Macomb, Oakland or Wayne County - Part 1" »

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