In Part 1 of this article, we did an overview of DWLR, compared and contrasted it to DWLS, and left off by noting that anyone facing a DWLR 1st Offense is usually already in “hot water” by virtue of their prior Record. In this second part, we’ll look at why that’s the case, and how this charge can negatively impact a person’s hopes of having their Driver’s License Restored anytime soon.
Every Judge hearing one of these cases is going to look at the Defendant’s prior Record. That means, to put it plainly (if not harshly), almost every DWLR Driver will be seen as a repeat-offender Drunk Driver who, after all of that, still can’t follow the law. That may seem mean spirited (although it’s not meant to be), but it’s certainly far more accurate than saying almost every DWLR Driver is safe bet to stay out of trouble.
Given that perspective, it only makes sense to make sure the Defendant not only has a Lawyer, but a good one. Hiring some person from far away, or who is not a “regular” at handling these cases makes less sense than taking a Court-Appointed Lawyer. Whatever else, at least the Court-Appointed Lawyer will have an idea of how the Judge will handle the case, which is a lot more than can be said for the Lawyer from far away or the one who doesn’t regularly handle this kind of case.
In my Practice, that means only handling these cases when they arise in Macomb, Oakland or Wayne Counties. Whatever “shopping” a person does, bear in mind that the term “local” means a lot here. While it’s not for me pass judgment on other Lawyer’s practices, or those who hire them, I can certainly give my opinion. Knowing what I know, if I had to hire a Lawyer for a DWLR charge, I’d look for someone from the local, Tri-County area and steer away from those “1-800” number, statewide, “go anywhere, handle any case” kind of outfits. If my case was in a County outside of the Tri-County area, I’d hire a Lawyer from that County. Now, I realize there are exceptions, but a s a general rule, I’d mark that as number 1.
A DWLR 1st Offense charge will almost always be handled a bit differently than a DWLS 1st Offense charge. Specifically, while many 1st (and even 2nd, or Subsequent) DWLS charges can be negotiated down to a “No Ops” (No Valid Operators License On Person, a less serous charge which carries no Points, no Mandatory Additional Suspension, and no Driver Responsibility Fees), it is very difficult to negotiate a DWLR charge down to a “No-Ops.”
As a result, many DWLR charges are worked out in terms of “Sentence Bargains,” where the Defense Lawyer gets the Prosecutor to agree to, or recommend a “No Jail” deal.
If there is any chance of working out that “No Ops” deal, it generally won’t be because a person hired a discount Lawyer, or tried winging it on their own. That said, the opposite of a “discount Lawyer” is not some over-priced slickster, but rather a reasonably-priced person that will explain things in a clear and understandable manner.
In truth, DWLR 1st Offense cases are right at the cusp of being rather serious. Given the usual prior Record of a typical DLWR Defendant, any promises they make to the Judge to “not do it again” or otherwise stay out of trouble are taken with a grain of salt. Even in the best of circumstances, the typical DWLR Defendant looks like someone who just can’t be made to listen, at least by the usual Probationary penalties imposed by most Courts.
As we’ll see in the next article, 2nd and Subsequent Offense cases pretty much cross the line into “serious” territory. Our concern here, however, is with 1st Offense cases, and how to do damage control.
One of the most overlooked components to any DWLR case is what damage it does to a person’s chance of having their Driver’s License Restored. Remember, anyone whose License has been “Revoked,” (as opposed to “Suspended”) must undergo the Driver’s License Restoration process in order to be able to legally drive again. There is no simple “reinstatement” of a Revoked License, even if a person waits 30, 40, or 50 years!
The damage done by a DWLR case to a person’s chances of getting their License Restored happens on several fronts.
First, the person will, by law, get slapped with a Mandatory Additional Revocation. This means they will be given another “extension” of the time during which they cannot even begin to appeal to the Secretary of State’s Driver Assessment and Appeal Division (DAAD) for Restoration of their Driver’s License. Typically, this adds at least another year onto the Revocation.
Beyond that, even when that new, Mandatory Additional Revocation is up, the person will be pressed to explain their conduct to the DAAD at their License Restoration Hearing.
License Restorations are a fairly complicated, rule-laden specialty. It is far beyond the scope of this article to even begin to explore them. I have written numerous articles, including a whole series, in the Driver’s License Restoration category of this Blog. Anyone interested in a License Restoration would do well to read those materials.
For our purposes here, however, it will have to suffice to simply explain that when a person is sitting in front of the Hearing Officer for their License Appeal, and telling him or her that they’ve been sober since the time of their Last DUI, the Hearing Officer is going to ask them why they did not, as part of that sobriety, begin to follow the law. He or she is going to ask the person why the DAAD should even begin to believe that the person will follow rules and any restrictions placed upon their initial ability to drive, if any, when they have demonstrated that when the Secretary of State Revoked their License, and in effect said “no driving whatsoever,” they drove anyway (and got caught)? This is a HUGE question. And the best answer still isn’t all that good, if you follow me.
This, of course, brings into question the person’s ability and intention to be law-abiding. It complicates things, at a minimum.
And complicated is a term that can likewise be used to describe DWLR charges.
At the outset of this article, I pointed out that both DWLS and DWLR are offenses contained and outlined in the exact same statute (Law). I then noted that DWLR was the “more serious” of the 2. In the following paragraphs, we have examined the reasons why that’s the case.
In the next article, we’ll turn to the even more serious crime of DWLR 2nd (or Subsequent) Offense, and we’ll see how the stakes go up accordingly.