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Driving While License Revoked in Michigan – 2nd (or Subsequent) Offense – Part 1

In the previous articles in this series, we examined the charge of Driving While License Revoked (DWLR) 1st Offense. We learned that, although part of the exact same Law, DWLR is still a different crime than Driving While License Suspended (DWLS), and the majority of DWLR cases arise because the Driver has accumulated multiple DUI’s. This article will focus on DWLR 2nd and Subsequent (meaning, 3rd, 4th, 5th, etc.) Offense. Like the other articles in this series, this one will be broken into 2 parts, the first part being more of an overview of DWLR 2nd Offenses, and the second looking more at how 2nd and Subsequent Offenses are actually handled in Court, and the other consequences they cause. From here on out, we’ll simply refer to DWLR 2nd or Subsequent Offense as DWLR 2nd Offense. It will be clear when were talking about 3rd, 4th and additional subsequent offenses.

At first glance, one might think that DWLR 2nd Offense is just a more serious crime than DWLR 1st Offense, and that’s partly true. As I frequently point out in these Blog articles, my observations are limited to the Courts of Macomb, Oakland and Wayne Counties. Thus, what I say here may not be accurate in the Courts of other Counties.

bilde.jpgUnlike so many “doom and gloom” observations about how bad things are or can be with any given charge, a DWLR 2nd Offense charge does not have to be the end of the world. Of course, if this charge is made out as part of another DUI arrest, it can’t get much worse. On it’s own, however, a true 2nd Offense is really quite survivable. That’s not to say there aren’t consequences. As a Driver’s License Restoration Lawyer, I can point out that right out of the gate, anyone getting a DWLR 2nd charge has set themselves back at least a whole year as far as any License Appeal goes.

And while that’s certainly a valid concern, for anyone facing a DWLR 2nd Offense charge, a more immediate consideration is staying out of Jail. Just like DWLS 2nd Offenses, DWLR 2nd Offenses are Misdemeanors punishable by up to 1 year in the County Jail. As far as Misdemeanor’s go, a 1-year Misdemeanor is the most serious of all Misdemeanor charges.

When a person hires a Lawyer to help them in one of these cases, they usually have 2 big concerns: staying out of Jail, and avoiding Probation from Hell. Depending on where the case is being heard, how this works out can be very different from Court to Court.

In Macomb County, which I consider to be the most reasonable of all the Counties as far as Criminal Cases are concerned, it is often very possible for the Defense Lawyer to negotiate with the Prosecutor and have the DWLR 2nd Offense charge dropped to a DWLR 1st Offense. This almost always means that, in addition to avoiding Jail, the person will likewise avoid an overly difficult Probationary term. That’s not to say they won’t be placed on Probation; that’s pretty much in the bag. It is possible, if not probable, that such a case can result in Non-Reporting Probation.

In Oakland County, by far the most conservative of the 3, convincing the Prosecutor to reduce the charge from a 2nd to a 1st Offense is typically more difficult than in either Macomb, or in Wayne. In Oakland County, the Lawyer’s first order of business is to keep the Client out of Jail.

Wayne County tends to split the difference between Macomb and Oakland. While Macomb is more uniformly understanding (or, from my point of view, reasonable), Oakland is more uniformly conservative (a nice way of saying tougher). Wayne County, on the other hand, tends to be equally as reasonable as Macomb in some places, and equally as conservative as Oakland in others. As a loose, general rule, the closer a city is to Detroit, the more lenient it tends to be (with the notable exception of the Grosse Pointes, although they’re not as bad as one might think), and the farther away, especially west of the city (think Canton and Plymouth) the more like Oakland County it seems to be.

Okay, so the set-up here is that, generally, loosely speaking, DWLR 2nd Offenses aren’t the end of the world, and how much damage control can be done depends quite a bit on where the charge is pending. We’ve already noted that, no matter what, these charges are ruinous to a person’s hope of getting a License Restored for at least a year.

Let’s look at why these cases need not be the end of the world. We must first concede that the vast majority of License Revocations occur because of multiple DUI convictions. As a starting point, that’s not good. Add to that at least 1 prior DWLR charge, and we must admit that we’re talking about a person who continues to drive despite being repeatedly told, both by the Secretary of State and the Courts, that they cannot drive. That’s not too good, either.

Still, the reason a person was driving when they got caught does influence what can happen to them. A person caught driving to or from work during regular work hours is certainly going to be judged differently than someone caught at 1:00 a.m. on a Saturday morning after having been out on a Friday night date. And this is where, I think the location of the Court likewise figures into how a case will play out.

I don’t live by generalizations, and I realize that someone will get swept up in a generalization who does not belong there. Still, and perhaps it’s because my upbringing was firmly working-class (my dad was a Mailman), but I tend to find that Courts in more working-class areas tend to be more understanding of a person’s lapse in judgment in driving to work, despite having a Revoked License, than Courts in more affluent areas.

Compare that to someone getting caught driving on a Revoked License because they couldn’t find a ride to a party
It may only be my perception, but I think when the Prosecutors and Judges know, either from personal experience, or just from having handled these kinds of cases in a working-class area for so long, what it’s like to have to punch a clock, and how important a job is, they tend to be a bit more lenient and understanding toward a person caught driving to or from work on a Revoked License..

All of which they (and I) will point out is still not a valid excuse for breaking the Law. Laws are laws, and we can’t pick and choose the ones that work for us. If that were the case, I’d be telling the IRS that I just couldn’t afford taxes right now.

In Part 2 of this article, we’ll begin to examine how DWLR 2nd Offense cases are handled in Court, and how the number of prior DWLR convictions a person has can affect that outcome.