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What to Know About Driving While License Revoked (DWLR) in Michigan

Home Blog Driver's License Restoration What to Know About Driving While License Revoked (DWLR) in Michigan

This article will be a close-up look at a revoked license charge (Driving While License Revoked, or DWLR, for short) in Michigan. It is intentionally separate from the last installment on this blog examining suspended license charges. Although the offenses of driving while license suspended license and driving while license revoked are both covered under the same law, there is one key difference that, just by itself, merits giving each its own, separate treatment.

A revoked license charge can have serious consequences for a person’s eligibility to get his or her license back.That difference is essentially that, unlike suspensions, the majority of license revocations are the result of multiple DUI convictions. Getting caught driving after having one’s license yanked for 2 or more DUI’s is always worse than if one’s license was merely suspended for something non-alcohol related. Since that’s the most common basis for a DWLR charge, we’ll omit any discussion of revocations for things like driving and causing a death, or a serous injury.

To be sure, those kinds of cases do arise often enough. My team and I have handled plenty of revoked license charges for people who lost the ability to drive for reasons other than multiple DUI convictions. However, for every 1 of those, we probably see 100 DWLR cases for having racked up multiple DUI’s. Accordingly, what we’ll cover here applies generally to all revoked license case, although our main focus will primarily be on those who can’t drive because of 2 or more DUI convictions.

As pointed out in that previous article about suspended license cases – there are basically 2 reasons why people lose their driving privileges:

  1. Anything DUI-related, and
  2. Everything else.

The simple fact is that anyone who can’t legally drive because he or she got caught driving drunk (and in revoked license cases, that almost always means it’s happened multiple times) is seen as both a risk on the road AND someone who doesn’t obey the law. Neither is good, and together, they’re even worse.

This stands in stark contrast to those cases where a person can legitimately claim they weren’t aware their license had been suspended.

Of course, a defense of being unaware won’t hold any water for someone has been revoked as the result of 2 or more DUI convictions.

This isn’t some set-up to scare the reader. My team and I can manage the legal fallout from a revoked license charge; we’ve done it thousands and thousands of times. However, the simple fact is that going to court for getting caught driving after having had one’s license revoked for too many DUI convictions is serious, and certainly much more so than for having simply forgotten to renew it, or something benign, like that.

One of the most important aspects of the way my team and I handle these cases comes from our specific practice concentration in DUI and driver’s license restoration cases. We deal with the driver’s license rules all day, every day. Our firm handles over 200 license appeal matters every year, and every bit as many DUI’s and suspended and revoked license cases, as well.

It is important to understand that a revoked license charge, just like a DUI case, involves both the criminal law that will be handled in court, and the adminstrative driver’s license rules and penalties that are applied separately, by the Michigan Secretary of State. Of course, what happens in court determines exactly what, if any, such penalty will be applied to a person’s driving record.

That, in turn, will directly impact his or her future ability to move forward with any kind of license appeal to regain driving privileges.

Although handling a revoked license charge can get very complicated, here’s what matters in this discussion: If a person whose license has been revoked after multiple DUI’s has ANYTHING go on his or her driving record, it will cause it to be re-revoked all over again for the same length of time as the original revocation. This means either another 1 or 5 years, and that effectively kills any chance to file a license appeal in the near future.

On top of that, it just never helps a license appeal when someone has been caught driving while in revoked status. One of the most overlooked parts of the main rule governing driver’s license restoration cases requires the person to prove, by what is defined as “clear and convincing evidence,” that he or she has “the ability and motivation to drive safely, and within the law.”

It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that having anything on his or her record as a result of driving with a revoked license is really the EXACT OPPOSITE of driving “within the law.”

This makes it ultra important for us to find a way to avoid having anything go on our client’s driving record. That makes sense, but the finer point is often missed.

We have handled countless license appeals for people whose eligibility to file a formal driver’s license restoration appeal had been delayed because of driving while in revoked license status. Many of them had previously hired some lawyer, who, without fully understanding the nuances of the law, accepted what sounded like a really great plea bargain that still resulted in the client being re-revoked.

Here again, we have to look to the rather simple explanation for how this works: If a person whose license is revoked gets caught driving (and we’ll see an example of what “caught” means shortly) at any time, then the Michigan Secretary of State MUST impose what is called a “mandatory additional” revocation. Let’s look at a few hypothetical examples to make this clear:

Assume that Sober Sam racked up 2 DUI’s and had his license revoked with no ability to appeal for at least 1 year. His last conviction was 4 years ago. Accordingly, he has been eligible to file a license appeal for some time, but he just hasn’t gotten around to it.

One day, he gets pulled over for speeding on his way to work. He is arrested and cited for DWLR (Driving While License Revoked). His lawyer convinces the prosecutor that Sam deserves a break, so instead of the DWLR charge, Sam gets a plea bargain to what’s commonly called “No Ops,” meaning not having had a valid operators license on his person. This avoids a conviction for DWLR, and both Sam and his lawyer think this will protect him from getting that “mandatory additional” revocation imposed by the Secretary of State.

The Judge also feels bad for Sam, so instead of probation, the court simply imposes $300 in fines and costs, and then closes the case.

A few weeks later, Sam gets notified by the Secretary of State that as a result of his “No Ops” conviction, his license will be revoked for another year (because he was originally revoked for 1 year as a result of racking up 2 DUI’s within 7 years) from the date the Secretary of State received the abstract of his “No Ops” conviction from the court.

That penalty is required by law.

Neither Sam, his lawyer, the prosecutor, nor the Judge understood that if ANYTHING wound up on his driving record that shows he was driving, Sam would automatically get that “mandatory like additional” revocation.

Consider this version:

2.) While stopped at a red light, on his way to work (this actually happened to a client of ours), Sam gets rear-ended. The officer felt bad for him, and didn’t cite him for anything at all; he just let him go.

A few weeks later, Sam gets a notice in the mail that because the Secretary of State received an accident (crash) report that shows he was driving, the “mandatory additional” revocation is being imposed.

This is why I keep emphasizing that if ANYTHING goes on a person’s driving record that shows he or she was driving during a period of revocation, then a “mandatory additional” period of revocation will be imposed.

Here’s our final example:

3.) Assume that Bad Luck Brenda had racked up 3 DUI’s within 10 years, with her last being 3 years ago. Her revocation would have been for a minimum of 5 years, meaning that she’d otherwise be eligible to file a license restoration case in another 2 years.

Unfortunately, one day, on her way to work, Brenda gets pulled over for running a red light, and the officer discovers that she’s revoked. No matter what offense she’s charged with, if the end result in court is that ANYTHING goes on Brenda’s driving record, she, too will get the “mandatory additional” revocation. In her case, that will be another 5 years.

This means that Brenda’s former eligibility date in 2 years will be pushed up 3 more years, because she’ll have 5 years added to her revocation period from the date of her conviction for whatever new offense is tacked on her driving record.

The only way to avoid this is would be to work out some kind of deal that would prevent anything from going on her driving record.

There are several ways we do that, and they’d take up too much space to even summarize here. The bottom line, though, is that keeping the client’s record clean is not only the best possible result, it’s the ONLY result that won’t screw him or her over.

Sometimes, we have to help educate the prosecutors and Judges about all this, because the simple fact is that they don’t know the Secretary of State administrative rules about driver’s license penalties – primarily because they don’t have to.

A good way to understand this is to think about property taxes – a city or township assessor may have to know how to value a home, or a building, but that’s it. A municipal property tax authority doesn’t have to know the first thing about federal income taxes, or allowable deductions.

On the flip side, an IRS agent doesn’t have to know the first thing about municipal property tax assessments, either.

Now for a little shameless self-promotion: Nobody knows the license stuff better than me and my team. This is what our firm does every single day. Our firm will do everything legally possible to bring about the best result in every revoked license charge we defend. As one of our mottos goes, no lawyer can do more, and we will never do less.

If you are looking for a lawyer for a revoked license charge, a DUI, or anything related to your driver’s license, be a wise consumer and read around. Pay close attention to how various lawyers break all this down, and how they explain their different approaches to it.

Our driver’s license restoration practice is statewide, so we can help no matter where you live.

By contrast, we handle DUI and revoked license charges in the Greater-Detroit area, meaning anywhere in Wayne, Oakland, Macomb or the surrounding counties, so if you have a case here, make sure you give us a ring.

This blog is a great place to start. It is fully searchable and updated weekly with a new, original article. Beyond a dedicated license restoration section, there is an entire other section devoted to DWLS and DWLR cases. There is nothing like it anywhere, but don’t take my word for it – check for yourself.

When you’ve done enough reading, start calling around. You can certainly learn a lot by speaking with a live person, and that’s exactly what you’ll get when you call our office. All of our consultations are free, confidential, and done over the phone, right when you call.

My team and I are very friendly people who will be glad to answer your questions and explain things. We believe a persone should check around with different lawyers, so when we talk, we’ll invite you to call us back, even if it’s to compare notes with anything some other lawyer has told you.