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Driving on a Suspended License in Michigan: What You Need to Know

Driving on a Suspended License in Michigan

Michigan law makes it a crime to drive with a suspended or revoked license, and enforces what can be severe penalties upon conviction. However, the circumstances surrounding an arrest and allegation for DWLS/DWLR can play a significant role in determining the charges and penalties you face, and your options.

Reasons for Suspended Driving Privileges

In Michigan, a person may have their driver’s license suspended or revoked for a number of reasons. These commonly include:

  • DUI / OWI
  • Traffic offenses (unpaid traffic tickets, too many points, etc.)
  • Failure to stop and render aid at the scene of an accident
  • Failure to pay child support

When it comes to DWLS or DWLR (driving while license suspended/revoked) charges, the reason for an underlying suspension does matter. Generally, suspensions related to OWI / DUI convictions, especially multiple convictions, can make for more serious charges and penalties, as well as further restriction of one’s driving privileges.

DWLS Charges & Penalties

Driving with a suspended license is not a murder charge, but it is a serious criminal offense that poses penalties and long-term consequences that can impact your finances, freedoms, and ability to drive. Depending on the individual facts involved, DWLS may be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony:

  • First Offense – A first DWLS offense is misdemeanor, which is punishable by fines (up to $500) and related driver responsibility fees, cancellation of registration plates, probation, mandatory additional suspension, and up to 93 days in jail.
  • Second offense – A second conviction for DWLS can result in heftier fines (up to $1,000), driver responsibility fees, cancellation of registration plates and additional suspension, two years’ probation, and up to 1 year in jail.

There are circumstances where charges and penalties can be elevated, and the risk of felonies and imprisonment increased. These include cases involving:

  • Multiple DWLS / DWLR convictions – Repeat offense cases can result in longer terms of imprisonment and more serious driving privilege consequences. For example, a person with multiple convictions may face revocation for extended period of time, during which they may be unable to file for a driver’s license appeal.
  • DWLS involving injury – Driving with a suspended license and causing an accident that results in injury can be prosecuted as a felony, which poses up to 5 years in prison.
  • DWLS involving death – A person who drives with a suspended or revoked license and causes the death of another faces very serious felony allegations, and up to 15 years in prison.

Restricted License in Michigan

In Michigan, if your license is suspended, you may be able to obtain a restricted license that allows for limited driving to places such as school, work, alcohol or drug treatment, or to get emergency medical care. The installation of an ignition interlock device may be required.

Defense Strategies

Though there are serious penalties on the line, individuals charged with DWLS do have the right to defend themselves against the government’s accusations. Our legal team closely evaluates cases to devise tailored defense strategies. Generally, however, these strategies may focus on:

  • Lack of knowledge that a license was suspended
  • Driving on a suspended license was done in response to an emergency
  • Reducing charges from felonies to misdemeanors
  • Avoiding, reducing, or pursing alternatives to jail or prison sentences
  • Minimizing impact to driving privileges / license reinstatement

Call (517) 316-1195 for a FREE Consultation

Whether you’ve been charged with a first offense DWLS or DWLR, or have previous convictions or aggravating factors involved in your case, these charges demand immediate attention from experienced lawyers. Our Okemos criminal defense attorneys at White Law PLLC are readily available to help you protect your rights and driving privileges. Contact us to discuss your case.