Articles Posted in Revoked and Suspended Driver’s License

In part 1 of this article about the arraignment, we identified 5 important functions. First, we saw that the arraignment is the first step in a criminal case. Second, the person is formally notified of the charges or charges against him or her, and the maximum legal penalty that can be imposed for each. Third, he or she will enter a plea (it should always be “not guilty”). Fourth, bond (bail), and bond conditions are set. Fifth, some courts allow the arraignment to be waived in certain misdemeanor cases, but that cannot happen in a felony case.

The arraignment before a JudgeHere, in part 2, we’ll dig a little deeper into the practical side of this. As just noted, the arraignment can be “waived” in some misdemeanor cases. This means a person won’t have to go to court for it. Waiving the arraignment requires that the lawyer file certain papers. As we also noted, the arraignment cannot be waived in felony cases. This also applies to any misdemeanor charge for which the court chooses to require attendance. A district court can simply elect to forbid the waiver of the arraignment in any or all misdemeanor cases, as it sees fit.

One of the scariest parts about having to show up for an arraignment occurs when the person is advised of the maximum possible penalty that can be imposed for his or her charge(s). Imagine, for example, that a person is caught with a small amount cocaine for personal use. He or she is brought to court and advised that the maximum penalty that can imposed for possession is up to 4 years in the state prison. That will cause many to have a “sinking feeling” in the pit of their stomachs.

In this 2-part article, we’re going to examine and explain the arraignment in Michigan criminal and DUI cases. In this first part, we’ll look more at the legal purpose of an arraignment. In the second part, we’ll dig a bit deeper into it’s function and process in the Metro-Detroit area. For my team and I, “Metro-Detroit” means the various courts located in Wayne, Oakland, Macomb, and the surrounding counties.That matters because, as we’ll see, the actual process can be quite different from one court to another.

The arraignment in a criminal caseThe arraignment has a long history. It has been around pretty much as long as criminal charges have been made against people in court. Black’s Law Dictionary, the most highly regarding source for legal definitions, concisely describes the arraignment as “the initial step in a criminal prosecution, whereby the defendant is brought before the court to hear the charges and to enter a plea.” While that’s historically true, it also leaves out a LOT of important and practical considerations.

To be sure, the primary purpose of an arraignment is to advise a person of the charge or charges being made against him or her. It also informs the person of the maximum legal penalty that can be imposed for each. However, in many misdemeanor cases, at least in Michigan, the arraignment can be “waived” so that one does not need to show up in court for it. More on that later. I point this out now, however, to make clear that criminal procedure has evolved a lot over the last several centuries.

Driving while license suspended violates the same rule of law as driving while license revoked. That said, there are some significant differences between the 2 charges. In this article, we’re going to look at those differences, as well as what they have in common. This can be a bit confusing, because just about everyone, from the police to defense lawyers, and even Judges, use the term “suspended license” or “DWLS” when the actual charge at issue is driving while license revoked (DWLR). In fact, it is not unheard of for a revoked license charge to be written up as “DWLS.”

DWLS and DWLR charges are part of the same law, but are different.To be clear, there are precisely 4 offenses covered by the actual law linked above. As its title suggests, they include driving while one’s license is suspended, revoked, or has been denied. Note that the very first section makes clear that the law also applies to anyone who has never obtained a license, as well. Accordingly, if a person gets caught driving for any of those 4 stated reasons, it violates the very same provision of law. It doesn’t matter if the specific status of his or her license status is or was misidentified in some way or other.

Thus, if a police officer writes a ticket for “DWLS” to a person whose license is actually revoked (or was denied, or never issued), that’s not a defense to the charge. It doesn’t matter. As Michigan DUI and driver’s license restoration lawyers, my team and I deal with suspended and revoked license issues from every possible angle. We handle them on both the criminal side and reinstatement side. We represent people in these cases from the first court date all the way through the administrative reinstatement of driving privileges, and every stage in-between.

As Michigan driver’s license restoration and DUI lawyers, my team and I deal with DWLS (Driving While License Suspended) and DWLR (Driving While License Revoked) charges almost every day. In this article, we’re going to focus on why getting caught driving when one’s license is revoked can really hurt a person’s ability to get back on the road again legally. Specifically, we’re going to look at what happens when the Michigan Secretary of State learns that a person has driven after his or her license has been revoked for multiple DUI’s.

Cop3-1-300x251Under Michigan’s DUI laws, if a person is convicted of 2 DUI’s within 7 years, his or her license will be revoked for a minimum of 1 year, and if he or she is convicted of 3 DUI’s within 10 years, then their license will be revoked for a minimum of 5 years. State law also requires that, if a person gets caught driving while his or her license is revoked, what’s called a “mandatory additional” period of revocation be imposed, meaning that he or she will get an additional revocation slapped on top of his or her current period of revocation.

Once a person’s license gets revoked, it will stay revoked unless and until he or she files and wins a formal driver’s license restoration appeal. The “mandatory additional” means that, once someone’s license is revoked, if he or she gets caught driving at any time before it is legally restored, then an additional revocation will be added onto to his or her existing period of revocation. This action is, as noted, mandatory, and it does not matter if a person is or was “eligible” to file a license appeal at the time he or she got caught driving.

In our capacity as Michigan DUI and driver’s license restoration lawyers, we regularly encounter misunderstandings about the difference between a suspended and a revoked driver’s license. As life goes, this difference often doesn’t matter at all to someone – until it suddenly becomes an issue in his or her life. In this article, I want to explain how and why a suspended license is different than one that has been revoked in the most straightforward way possible, without getting lost in the weeds, so to speak.

vectorstock_5040481-300x300The biggest source of confusion about the 2 terms stems from the fact that most people use the term “suspended license” to describe any and every kind of loss of driving privileges. To be sure, most of the time a person can’t drive IS because of a suspended (rather than a revoked) driver’s license, but in the real world, people also use the term “suspended” when what they’re really talking about is a license that has been “revoked.” A revocation is very different from (and somewhat more serious than) a suspended license, and that’s why proper use of the terms can be important, and what we’ll examine below.

This lack of precision regarding what really amounts to the overuse of the term “suspended license” knows almost no limits. For example, even police officers will sometimes write “suspended” on a citation despite the fact that they are actually writing up someone who has been caught driving on a revoked license, and people in the court system will often refer to either a DWLS or DWLR case as a “suspended license” matter. Before the reader wonders if that has any effect on the charge (“can I get out of this because they listed the wrong offense?”), let me be clear: it does not.

An inevitable and significant part of being Michigan DUI and driver’s license restoration lawyers is that we handle a lot of suspended license cases. Driving while license suspended (DWLS) is one of, if not THE most common criminal charges processed through the local district courts of the Metro-Detroit area (meaning Wayne, Oakland, Macomb, Lapeer, Livingston, St. Clair and Washtenaw counties). Depending on a variety of factors, the impact of a DWLS on a person’s life can range anywhere from a minor expense all the way to a major setback.

vectorstock_11956725-300x300Here’s the good news: For most people, a DWLS charge is something that, if addressed promptly and properly, can be resolved rather painlessly. Although far from any kind of hard and fast rule, it’s often the case that clients who worry the most about a suspended license charge are those who have the least to fear, while those who take things lightly have the most to lose. It’s not uncommon for 1st or 2nd time DWLS offenders to freak out over the potential legal consequences, while those with a lot of prior suspended license convictions (and who has never done any jail time for them) aren’t very worried at all.

A big and common problem with suspended license cases is that people often tend to keep racking up one after another, and therefore keep getting their licenses suspended further and further into the future. It’s not that hard for a person to get stuck on a kind of treadmill of never being able to regain a valid license because they keep get caught driving with a suspended license. Before they can ever reinstate their license, they then pick up a new DWLS case, only to get suspended again, for even longer, creating an almost never-ending cycle. Wash, rinse, repeat.

In the previous article, I explained that right now, during the Coronavirus pandemic, the Michigan Secretary of State is conducting all driver’s license restoration hearings remotely. In this article, I want to examine the impact that going remote has had on the way Michigan criminal and DUI charges are being handled, both in the courts, and in our office. As of this writing (October 2020), we’re 7 months into the pandemic, and the legal world is adapting to handling cases in new ways.

Lady5Having had to do that by sheer necessity, there are likely to be some permanent changes (at least in our practice) to the way criminal and DUI cases are handled in the future, many of which are favorable. Right now, in the Metro-Detroit area (meaning Wayne, Oakland, Macomb and the surrounding counties), “going to court” in many jurisdictions means connecting to a legal proceeding virtually. So far, we haven’t had a single complaint from any client who had to appear on a video conference with the court instead of actually having to have physically show up in it.

I don’t expect there to be any complaints, either. It’s basic human nature to prefer to do things the easier way, especially when the outcome is at least as good as it would be otherwise. There’s an old saying that “necessity is the mother of invention,” and even though the idea of holding meetings virtually is not any kind of new invention, society’s attitude about them, and expectations for them, have certainly evolved in the past several months.

In part 1 of this article, we began looking at the 3 questions anyone should consider as he or she looks for a lawyer for a Michigan criminal, DUI or driver’s license restoration case. After we went over a few preliminary considerations like not getting the “hard sell” from some lawyer’s office, we began examining the first of 3 sub-questions from the larger inquiry, “why should I hire you?” and saw why it’s important to find a lawyer whose practice concentrates in the same field as a person’s case.


Having covered those things, in the previous installment, we can turn to the second sub-question anyone looking for a lawyer should have about an attorney or law firm: How available do you make USEFULL information relevant to my kind of case, and specific concerns?

I’ve already mentioned this blog as a resource, and while I am proud of it (and think it’s the best out there by far!), there is lots of other information out there, as well. Find it, and see what other lawyers have written and then put up about your kind of case. Reading articles is about the easiest and most anonymous way to at least get some preliminary information about a situation, but a person must also make sure that the information provided is both accurate and reliable.

Anyone looking to hire a lawyer for a criminal or DUI case, a driver’s license restoration appeal (or really for any kind of case) should always consider the question, “why should I hire you?” Even if a person doesn’t directly ask that of some lawyer or law firm, he or she should have clear and direct answers to it. In this article, I want to go over the 3 most important questions a person should keep in mind as he or she considers which lawyer to hire.

3ThingsThe simple truth is that nobody needs a criminal or DUI lawyer because things are going particularly well. In addition, it can be a bit intimidating to call a lawyer. Personally, I HATE having to call people who are in any “hard sell” profession, like insurance or real-estate agents, or anyone who offers “free information” or a “no obligation” consultation that I know will result in a sales pitch. I fear that once any of these “sharks” get my phone number, they’ll hound me forever. Unfortunately some lawyers can be like that, too.

This reticence to call an attorney is likely the same for people who are looking to win back their driver’s license, as well. The whole idea of calling a law office can be stressful, not only because of the dreaded potential “hard sell,” waiting on the other end of the line, but also because the caller has no idea how nice (or not) the person answering the phone might be. This is why looking around online is so great; you have a chance to get some information without being hounded, intimidated, or pressured.

I have been writing about the ongoing changes in how criminal and DUI cases are being handled, both by the courts and our office, as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic. Things have, quite literally, been evolving on a daily bases. Even though procedures are still in flux, people are definitely getting more comfortable with the use of video in legal matters, both in the office and the courtroom.

companies-working-remotely-background-scaled-1-300x246Although there are trade-offs, the convenience factor of using video really can’t be overstated. This ability for a person to “be” in any court from the comfort of one’s own home seems like a great thing, but there is one huge concern I have about it that is the basis for this article: I have always been a strong advocate for hiring a “local” lawyer for a criminal or DUI charge. Here, in the Metro-Detroit area of Wayne, Oakland, Macomb and the surrounding Counties, “local” essentially means the “Greater-Detroit area.”

Up until recently, travel time was the main impediment to a lawyer taking cases all over the place. This is undoubtedly why lawyers pick a spot to open an office, and expect their practice to grow in that general geographic area. A Grand Rapids lawyer will usually stay within his or her general area, as will lawyers from Traverse City, Lansing, and Metro-Detroit. Our firm generally does not go to courts on the west side of the state, or up north. On the flip side, we don’t run into lawyers from Grand Rapids or up north in the courts around here, either.