In part 1 of this article, we began examining how a charge for driving on a revoked license (DWLR) is worse than one for driving on a suspended license (DWLS), even though they’re both covered by the same provision of law and carry identical criminal penalties in court. I noted that that there are 2 kinds of people who have lost their license: those who have it taken away for a DUI, and everyone else, and that it’s always best to be part of the everyone else group.
In this second part of the article, we’re going to turn our attention to why a DWLR charge is worse than a DWLS charge, both in the courtroom, and, even more important, in the context of being able to get one’s license back later. As we’ll see, a revoked license charge can be a complete deal-killer for a Michigan driver’s license restoration case, and will render a person completely ineligible to even file an appeal for either another 1 or 5 years.
In the world of criminal cases, having to face a suspended license charge is never a good thing, but having to contend with a revoked license charge (DWLR) is a whole different level of “worse.” When a driver’s license is revoked, it’s almost always because the person has racked up multiple DUI’s. As much as a single DUI can just “happen,” absolutely nobody in the court system thinks very charitably about a person with 2 or more drunk driving convictions.
The bottom line is that such person is perceived as both dangerous and as having little or no respect for the law. As defense lawyers, we work our tails off to minimize consequences in DWLS cases, but in DWLR cases, everything is magnified, both in terms of potential penalties, and, as a result, so are the efforts we undertake to spare out clients from getting pounded.
It’s more or less a “given” that a Judge hearing a DWLR case assumes that a revoked license defendant doesn’t follow rules and is inclined to do his or her own thing, no matter what the law says. Yes, there are exceptions, both in terms of the kinds of people who get charged with a DWLR and the Judges who hear these cases, but they’re just that – exceptions.
By definition, DWLR drivers are repeat offenders of at least some sort. Usually, they have at least 2 prior DUI convictions.
Consequently, this is NOT the kind of charge where you’ll find a deep well of leniency and patience.
Despite that, my team and I are often able to avoid having any kind of conviction go on our clients’ records in DWLR cases when we can honestly show that he or she is on track to file a driver’s license restoration appeal. Of course, just hearing this, almost everyone will say something like, “I really want to get my license back, too” in order to make it look good, but there’s way more to this than just saying such things.
Here, actions speak louder than words. If a person has been genuinely sober, and is or soon will be otherwise eligible to file a license appeal, we can often work out an accommodation so we can do get a license restoration case filed on his or her behalf.
It is important to understand that when a person’s license has been revoked, and even if it has been 40 years and they haven’t been in any trouble since, they can’t get it back unless and until they file and WIN a formal driver’s license restoration appeal through the Michigan Secretary of State.
The problem, though, is that, by law, if a person gets caught or it is otherwise learned that he or she was driving on a revoked license, the Michigan Secretary of State must impose what is called a “like mandatory additional revocation.”
In simple terms, that means the person’s license is revoked all over again, for either another period of 1 year or 5 years. Let me explain:
If a person racks up 2 DUI’s within 7 years, his or her license is revoked for a minimum of 1 year. As we’ve seen, he or she can’t get it back until he or she files a formal driver’s license restoration appeal and the Secretary of State approves.
In the real world, this means a person will generally not have a license for at least 3 years, and often longer.
Even though the revocation period is for 1 year, that’s a minimum period. In other words, until the person actually does file and win a license appeal, he or she will remain “revoked.” In practice, most people will have to wait at least 3 years before they’re able to drive again legally.
Now, imagine a person whose license was revoked for 1 year in 2009, but never filed and won a license appeal. Assume further that this person gets caught driving in 2020. When he or she goest to court, and unless he or she is NOT convicted of some moving violation, the Secretary of State will re-revoke his or her license for another year.
This is what is meant by the term “‘like’ mandatory additional revocation.”
As I indicated above, even if the Secretary of State merely finds out that a person was driving while his or her license is revoked, the like mandatory additional must be imposed. There doesn’t need to be a conviction for any kind of offense or moving violation. Let me explain:
Assume Driver X, whose license is revoked, is taking his or her child to the doctor, and gets rear-ended while stopped at a traffic light. Assume further that the police officer feels so bad for her that no citation is issued. Once the traffic crash report is processed in Lansing, however, it will show that she was driving, and she will STILL be revoked all over again for that “‘like’ mandatory additional period.”
This is a huge nightmare for anyone who has been revoked for 5 years after racking up 3 DUI’s within 10 years. We’ve seen cases in our office where people have gone 15 or more years without any trouble, but then get caught driving, and wind up getting that “like” mandatory additional 5 year revocation, making them completely ineligible to file a license appeal until that new, 5-year penalty runs out.
And before the reader asks, there is no way to “go to court” to work around these administrative penalties.
The upshot in this situation, then, is that a person gets charged with a DWLR, he or she must hire a lawyer who can and will do EVERYTHING possible to make sure NOTHING goes on his or her driving record.
What some lawyers don’t understand is that the standard kind of plea bargains that can be negotiated in some DWLS and even DWLR cases won’t work here if a person has any intention of even trying to get his or her license back in the next several years.
Key to success is that the lawyer must make sure that NOTHING whatsoever goes on the person’s driving record.
What really complicates things is that, as I noted, there is far less sympathy for someone whose license has been revoked for multiple DUI’s than for someone whose license is merely suspended because he or she merely forgot to pay a speeding ticket.
Everyone has an excuse and a story, and some are more compelling than others, but the bottom line is that anyone facing a DWLR charge after having his or license yanked for being a “habitual alcohol offender” starts out with a BIG handicap. It’s a fools errand not to recognize this from the outset.
Remember, by the time a DWLR driver winds up in front of a Judge, he or she has long passed the point of being any kind of creampuff, first-time offender.
No matter how you cut it, anyone standing before a Judge for a driving while license revoked (DWLR) charge as a consequence of prior DUI’s has at least 2 prior misdemeanor convictions, and is now back for another.
That’s far from ideal, and, as defense lawyers, we have to make sure that, over and above considerations about the client’s driving record, we also minimize the criminal penalties that will be imposed by the court, as well.
Of course, the cynical answer is that the best way out of this situation is to not get into it in the first place, but that ignores reality. Sometimes, people just “have” to drive, and, as life goes, sometimes they get caught.
In the real world, when a person does get caught driving after having had his or her license revoked for multiple DUI convictions, none of the “coulda, woulda, shoulda” stuff matters.
Instead, the question becomes, “what are you going to do about it?”
In our roles as DUI and driver’s license restoration attorneys, we use every tool possible to negotiate the kind of plea deal that will keep a person’s record clean so that he or she avoids getting a “mandatory ‘like’ additional revocation” slapped on by the Secretary of State.
Such an additional revocation can do more than just hold up a person’s legal eligibility to file a license appeal.
One of the often overlooked issues in a license appeal is that that a person must prove, by what the law defines as “clear and convincing evidence,” that he or she has “the ability and motivation to drive safely and within the law.” This means to obey the law.
Getting caught driving after one’s license has been revoked for multiple DUI’s is the opposite of proving any kind of ability to “drive safely and within the law.”
Although my team and I are very successful at working around these situations (we GUARANTEE to win every first time driver’s license restoration case we take), sometimes, the outcome requires that a person will still have to wait a bit longer to file a license appeal, even after the mandatory “like” additional revocation ends.
Remember, in addition to just being eligible to file an appeal time-wise, anyone who has lost his or her license after being convicted of multiple DUI’s is considered a “habitual alcohol offender.”
This designation gives rise to a presumption that they have a drinking problem.
As a result, a person will also have to prove the 2 main issues to the Michigan Secretary of State, by that same “clear and convincing evidence,” in order to win his or her restoration appeal:
First, that his or her alcohol problem is “under control,” meaning that he or she has given up drinking and has been alcohol-free for a legally sufficient period of time (generally, in our office, we want at least 18 months’ of sobriety), and
Second, that his or her alcohol problem is “likely to remain under control,” meaning that he or she has the ability and commitment to remain alcohol-free (i.e., sober) for life.
Within the driver’s license restoration section of my blog, I have written extensively about those issues within the more than 520 driver’s license restoration articles I have published to date. Here, our point is that if you wind up getting “re-revoked” after getting caught driving on a revoked license, those issues don’t even matter, because you won’t even be able to file an appeal in the first place, much less have the opportunity to present any evidence.
Anyone who does get slapped with a “mandatory ‘like’ additional revocation” will have the added burden of proving that, in addition to having quit drinking and being committed to remaining sober, he or she is now somehow inclined to follow the law and not violate it, like when they got caught driving without a license.
There are all kinds of factors that matter in this equation, including how long it has been since the person got caught driving, how long they’ve been sober, and also which one of the various Secretary of State hearing officers will be deciding the case.
As the old saying goes, “it’s complicated.”
It’s our job, as driver’s license restoration and DUI lawyers, to figure it out, and we do. In a DWLS or DWLR case, or any criminal case, for that matter, success is best measured by what does NOT happen to you, and we’re always mindful of that.
As I stated above, my team and I guarantee to win every first time driver’s license restoration case we take, so for all the talking I’ve done on this subject, we put our money where our mouths are.
In suspended (DWLS) and revoked (DWLR) cases, we use our unsurpassed experience and skill to make sure we produce the very best results possible. If someone facing a DWLR charge is even considering moving forward with a driver’s license restoration appeal, we want to make sure they can do so sooner, rather than later.
If you’re facing a suspended or revoked license charge, or if you need to win back your driver’s license, do your homework. Read around and see how lawyers explain things, and how they explain themselves. When you’ve done enough of that, start checking around.
All of our consultations are free, confidential, and done over the phone, right when you call. We are very friendly people who will be glad to answer your questions and explain things.
We can be reached Monday through Friday, from 8:30 a.m. until 5:00 p.m., at either 248-986-9700 or 586-465-1980.