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Articles Posted in Revoked and Suspended Driver’s License

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 In this article, I want to explain how and why a suspended license is different than one that has been revoked in the most straightforward way possible, without getting lost in the weeds, so to speak.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.

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Having covered those things, we can turn to the second sub-question anyone looking for a lawyer should have about an attorney or law firm: How available do make useful information relevant to my 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.

As Michigan criminal and DUI lawyers, we spend a lot of time in court. Or at least we used to: that changed with the Coronavirus, and courts have been largely shut down since. As of this writing, Michigan courts are adapting their way to being able to handle regular criminal matters again. In the weeks following the state’s shutdown, only “emergency” matters, meaning things like arraignments, bond (bail) issues, and certain probation violation matters, were being heard. That’s about to change.

Picture1-300x212We really don’t know when things will fully get back to normal, or, for that matter, what that new “normal” will look like. We do know, however, that the way cases are handled is going to be different after this, both in the long and short-term. Even walking into court is going to give some people pause as soon as they approach a door handle and have to touch it, or, once inside, have to use a “public” pen to sign a document.

As lawyers who do a lot of our work in courtrooms, a regular part of our jobs involves turning and whispering instructions or otherwise explaining things to our clients, while standing before a Judge. How is that going to play out when cases are heard live again? Of course, the bigger question is, when will cases ever be heard live again? The immediate plan is to use as videoconferencing as possible, but may very well lead to some permanent changes, as well.

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.

unnamed-3-300x214In 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.

This article will focus on the actual negative consequences of getting caught driving on a revoked license, and how that can hurt a person’s ability to win back his or her license later. The Michigan Secretary of State administrative penalties for driving on a revoked license (DWLR) are much more serious than for driving on a suspended license (DWLS), and they can kill any chance of a person filing, much less winning, a future driver’s license restoration appeal.

hqdefault-1-XX-y2-300x215Unfortunately, my team and I have seen plenty of cases where a police officer has written a citation for “DWLS,” even though the person’s license was revoked at the time of the offense. It’s important to make clear that it doesn’t matter what’s written on the citation. Instead, what ultimately happens to a person will be based entirely upon whether his or her license was either suspended, or revoked, at the time of the incident.

Instead of wasting time examining the endless possible situations that rarely occur, we’ll center our discussion here on the most common, real-world situation people face when they start searching this stuff online. Accordingly, while some of what we cover here applies to both DWLS and DWLR cases, our focus will be on those situations where a person gets caught driving after his or her license has been revoked as a result of multiple DUI’s.

It’s a good thing to be a novice when it comes to facing criminal charges. As very experienced criminal lawyers, my team and I are lucky to spend most of our time with clients who are relatively inexperienced with the criminal justice system. A good person who finds themselves in a bad situation will do well with a lawyer who understands that all of this is new to him or her, and who can make things understandable for what is hoped will be a one-time (or last) trip through the criminal court process.

1_3TBatnV_zBfnXh5MzlcN4g-300x210Although we do handle a lot of 2nd and 3rd offense DUI cases, and even though they’ve been through the system before, those clients aren’t any kind of “criminals” in any real sense of the word. My team and I specifically concentrate our practice on the kinds of charges that don’t attract career criminals. DUI drivers may be facing a criminal charge, but repeat offenses in this field are much more about a troubled relationship to alcohol than anything else. Thus, even for people who have prior DUI convictions, the whole experience of getting arrested again for a subsequent DUI is unnerving, and still seems like a whole “new” experience.

It is, of course, normal for someone who suddenly finds him or herself having to hire a defense lawyer to have every intention to make the whole thing a one-shot deal. This is similar to needing a root canal, where a person is glad to find professional help, but hopes to never need the person’s services again. We get that a lot, and that’s a good thing. People with no, or relatively minor prior criminal records will usually fare better. Who you are (and who you are not) as a person matters in criminal and DUI cases, and the lawyer’s job is to use that to your fullest advantage

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