We at Czarnecki & Taylor handle many Driving While License Suspended (DWLS) cases. It seems a large part of the cases moving through the court system are for DWLS. I believe that the system tends to keep people in a vicious circle of costs. For example, a person gets a ticket, forgets to pay it, does not hire a lawyer to resolve the matter, or does not have the money to pay it. As a result, his or her license gets suspended. Eventually because the person needs to drive, he or she gets stopped and cited for DWLS. It never fails to happen. The cycle then continues. We want to break that cycle and relieve the stress of driving without a valid license. No one wants to drive while looking over his or her shoulder constantly.
When you come to our office to meet with us for a DWLS we ask that you bring your driving record with you. This helps to give us an idea as to how to get your license reinstated. Essentially, we set up a plan of action. For most people, the reason that their license is suspended is because of unpaid tickets, outstanding driver responsibility fees or failures to appear in court.
When we identify the reason/s your license is suspended, we suggest a plan to start remedying the outstanding tickets. Many times we can go to court and get the outstanding tickets reduced. In the long run, this will save you time, money and points. The points equal higher insurance rates equaling hundreds of dollars. Sometimes, if the ticket has been in default status we can file a motion to get a hearing date to discuss the ticket with the prosecutor or city attorney. You definitely need an attorney to do that work. It will save you time and money. An experienced attorney is a money saving investment.
If, we discovery that you owe driver’s responsibility fees we suggest that you either pay the balance or enter a payment arrangement to satisfy the debt. The Treasury Department will then lift the suspension on your license. You will then be eligible to get your license.
Once we have started on the path of rectifying the reasons for the suspension (outstanding tickets, responsibility fees) we have to address the DWLS. We often have to request an adjournment to get you some time to address the outstanding matters. However, once we can address the DWLS we have one goal in mind – keeping the DWLS off of your driving record. Since you have started on the path to fix your license we are now in a position to negotiate your DWLS.
The penalties for a DWLS are harsh. 257.904 Operating vehicle if license, registration certificate, or designation suspended, revoked, or denied. Since the penalties involve more money and an additional suspension, people get trapped in the vicious circle. A person will receive an additional suspension, and if that is not enough, there is a driver responsibility fee of $500 for the next two years. Lastly, there is the chance of a jail sentence (unlikely but it depends on the jurisdiction) with additional fines and costs in the court.
Even though we have at this point focused on negotiating a deal, there are defenses to a DWLS. Most criminal charges do have a defense. It just takes an experienced defense attorney to know them.
DEFENSES TO DWLS
- No Notice Received or Knowledge that License Had Been Suspended— The prosecution must show that you had actual knowledge that your license was suspended. The prosecution must show that your license was in fact suspended and you received notice. This usually involves making the Secretary of State show that they mailed you a notice to your verified address.
- Invalid or Illegal Seizure under 4th Amendment— In order for a traffic stop (seizure) to be valid under the Fourth Amendment, the police most possess reasonable suspicion. In essence, the police must have observed a civil infraction or other violation of the Michigan vehicle code. If the police cannot form that basis, then the stop can be challenged as illegal.
- Emergency Situation— There are times when an emergency can excuse driving while your license is suspended. The law would rather place an emphasis on preservation of life rather than prosecute someone for aiding in an emergency. The prosecution and courts would require proof of such an emergency. Please note that real emergencies count, not something like being late for work.
If you want to fight your case at a trial – we will. Most times though, people choose to negotiate. Your attorney’s relationship with the prosecutors, city attorneys and courts is critical for a successful negotiation.
Our firm does have good relationships with the prosecutors in the tri-county area. We have been dealing with them for over a decade. So, when we represent someone with a DWLS we have a nice discussion where we show the prosecutor or city attorney the steps that you have taken to get your license back. Usually, we can get the city attorney or prosecutor to agree to reduce your DWLS to something that does not get sent to the Secretary of State. Again, this saves you money.
There are circumstances that help convince a prosecutor to reduce the DWLS to a lesser offense, a civil infraction, or ultimately dismiss your case. This is why you need an experienced criminal defense attorney advocating for you. Many DWLS cases are resolved by a discussion between defense counsel and the prosecutor. Most reductions of a DWLS are reduced to Allowing an Unlicensed Driver to Drive (ideal) or “No Ops” on person (meaning you did not have your license on you at the time.) At times we have been able to get an impeding traffic, a civil infraction with zero points and does not get sent to the SOS.
If your DWLS is reduced to one of the above mentioned charges, there will be no additional suspensions, no driver responsibility fees and lower fines and costs in the court. A good plea negotiation can save you over a thousand/s of dollars in fines costs and driver responsibility fees.
If you call us for an appointment be assured that we will work out a plan to fix your license. Do not worry. Even if you cannot afford the expenses to fix all of the outstanding issues at once, we can get you some time to fix those matters.
Do not fall into the vicious circle of picking up repeated DWLS charges. It only gets more costly in the long run. We would rather address the issues immediately and negotiate a way to get you back on the road in the fastest and most cost effective way. In Michigan, a license is a necessity and not a luxury.
We represent people in the Wayne, Oakland, Macomb and Saint Clair counties. We have been in every single court in those jurisdictions so we have a good understanding as to what each court may do on your case.
All consultations are free either telephone or by appointment. We have flexible payment schedules and we are willing to work with you.
You can reach us 24/7 at:
James E. Czarnecki II (586)718-2345
Genevieve L. Taylor (586) 350-6044
or look us up on our website: Czarnecki & Taylor