If You Get a Driving on a Revoked License Charge It Will Ruin Your Chances to Restore Your Driver’s License
The thing that most commonly messes up someone’s ability to receive their driver’s license back from the Michigan Secretary of State (SOS) is getting caught driving while revoked. When a person has lost his or her license for multiple DUI’s, if he or she gets anything – anything whatsoever – placed on their driving record, they will wind up being revoked all over again. Receiving a Driving While License Suspended (DWLS) or a Driving While License Revoked (DWLR) charge can absolutely kill a person’s chance to win a Michigan driver’s license restoration appeal.
Under the law, if a person with a revoked license has ANYTHING placed in their driving record that shows they were driving, their license will be revoked again for the same period of time it was originally revoked for (either 1 year or 5 years). There is no way to get around this. As soon as something goes on a person’s driving record the revocation time begins all over. If a person is cited for or charged with any kind of moving violation, including DWLS or DWLR, keeping it completely off their record is essential for a successful license restoration appeal.
What if the person is not given a ticket but is involved in an accident? The Secretary of State is still going to get a report of the accident. Even if you did not get a ticket but were involved in the accident you will get the same revocation period tacked on. The Secretary of States calls this a “like additional mandatory.” As soon as the accident report makes it to the Secretary of State, their license will be revoked yet again. Under Michigan law, a person’s driver’s license gets revoked for either 1 year (for 2 DUI’s within 7 years) or 5 years (for 3 DUI’s within 10 years). Unless and until a person has his or her license restored, if the Secretary of State receives any information that a person has been driving, he or she will automatically get an additional period of revocation, for the same length of time as the original revocation, added on to his or her driving record. That’s why it’s called a “like additional,” because what gets added on is just like the original penalty. Let’s take a look at how this works in the real world:
Assume that Mr. Smith was convicted a 2nd DUI about 8 months ago, and his license was revoked for the minimum 1 year. This means that, technically (although not practically), he would be eligible to file for a license restoration in 4 more months (8 months plus 4 months equals her 1 year). Unfortunately, Mr. Smith got caught driving to work one day. The officer felt bad for him, so instead of charging him with DWLS/DWLR, he cited him for a prohibited turn. Mr. Smith was so thankful to not get a suspended license charge that he paid his ticket the next day, not realizing that if the SOS receives any information that a person was driving during a period of revocation, an additional revocation is mandatory. A few weeks later, Mr. Smith did indeed receive a notice from the Secretary of State informing him that since he had been driving while his license was revoked he was going to receive an additional revocation – that “mandatory like additional,” of 1 year.
It’s important to point out here that mandatory additionals are concurrent, not consecutive, so Mr. Smith’s additional year will start right away, NOT after his 1st year is up. This means that Mr. Smith will be eligible to appeal in 1 year from now, which is 8 months more than if he hadn’t been caught driving.
Here’s where some people get confused; stay with me for a moment, and this will all make sense. No matter how long your original minimum period of revocation, and even if that passed a long time ago, until you actually win your license back, you are still considered “revoked” and the whole mandatory like additional thing applies. Another example using Mr. Smith will help clarify this:
Assume Mr. Smith had his first DUI back in 2007, and picked up his second in 2011. Because that’s 2 DUI’s within 7 years, his license would have been revoked for a mandatory minimum of 1 year, meaning he technically would become eligible to file a license appeal in 2012. Assume further that Mr. Smith is pulled over in June of 2018, and charged with DWLR. If, as a result of that charge, ANYTHING goes on Mr. Smith’s driving record, he will receive another “mandatory like additional” revocation of 1 year, putting his next eligibility date off until about June of 2019.
If Mr. Smith’s license had been revoked for 5 years as a result of 3 DUI’s within 10 years, everything covered here would apply the same way, except that his mandatory additional would be for 5 years.
If the example is modified a bit and assume that Mr. Smith had 3 previous DUI’s, one in 2007, another in 2011 and his third in 2015, we know that his license would have been revoked for 5 years, meaning he would have become eligible in 2020. If he gets pulled over in June of 2018 and charged with driving on a suspended/revoked license, and if anything whatsoever goes on her record, he will get that mandatory like additional, meaning another 5 years added to his revocation. Because mandatory additional are not consecutive, whereas he had previously been eligible to appeal in 2020 (5 years from 2015, the time of her last conviction), the 5 years will be added on from the time something new goes on his driving record, which in this case, is 2018, thus pushing his eligibility up to 2023.
One more example will cover all the bases: assume that Mr. Smith had 3 DUI’s from a long time ago, the first in 1998, the second in 2001, and her third, in 2007. Having been revoked for 5 years back in ’07, Mr. Smith became eligible to file an appeal in 2012, although he didn’t then, and has not yet. If he gets pulled over in June of 2018, and if anything whatsoever makes it on his driving record, even though he has been eligible to file a license appeal for around 6 years, he will be revoked all over again, for another 5 years from June of 2018, thereby making him ineligible to file for restoration until 2023.
The upshot of all this is that if a person who is revoked receives ANY kind of ticket, the lawyer has to either get it dismissed outright, or plea-bargain it down to what is called a “non-reportable” offense, meaning something that does NOT go on the person’s record.
This also means that if a person whose license is revoked is involved in an accident, and even if he or she is NOT given a ticket for anything (meaning the police officer gives them a break), once the collision report makes it to the SOS in Lansing and the accident gets put on his or her record, a mandatory like additional revocation will be added to his or her driving record. There is no way to avoid this from happening. If the Secretary of State finds out a person had been driving, and even if the person wasn’t issued a ticket for anything, the “mandatory like additional” revocation will automatically be tacked on
There’s more to all this than just the legal eligibility to file a license appeal that’s at stake, because even when you can and eventually do file, the SOS isn’t going to be happy that you’ve been driving without a license. One of the more overlooked provisions of the main rule governing license appeals (Rule 13) requires that you prove, by clear and convincing evidence that you have “the ability and motivation to drive safely, and within the law.” This means that you can be a safe driver who will meet all the requirements mandated by the state. A bad driving record shows quite the opposite, but it’s even worse when you kept driving after losing your license, and worse still if you kept doing it after you claimed to have quit drinking. Driving on a suspended or revoked license is a crime, and the SOS will remind you of that, and that having done so raises questions about your “ability and motivation to drive safely, and within the law.”
Imagine a hearing officer asking why you should be trusted to follow the rules when, even after your license was taken away, you kept driving (and getting caught). It’s one thing to say that everything changed when you got sober, but it’s another to have to explain how and why, as a sober person, you still disobeyed the law and drove. How do we explain our way out of this? The consequences of getting caught driving after your license has been revoked linger well beyond your eligibility to file a license appeal, and will affect you even during the appeal process.
The biggest (and, unfortunately, most common) mistake many lawyers make, when dealing with revoked license charges in court, is to accept certain kinds of plea bargains, like “Failure to Display a Valid License” (most often called “No Ops”) believing that it won’t cause an additional revocation. It will. Mandatory additional revocations are administrative sanctions. They are still penalties imposed by law, but there is a difference between them and the possible criminal, and statutory penalties that a conviction for driving with a suspended or revoked license carries. Unless a lawyer really understands this distinction, he or she is playing with fire, and the client will be the one who winds up getting burned.
The easiest way to clear this up is to understand this simple fact: if anything, absolutely anything shows that a person was driving, no matter what it is, goes on his or her driving record during a period of revocation, there will be a mandatory like additional period of revocation tacked on.
This requires that, in my role as a lawyer, I make sure to negotiate a deal so that NOTHING does, in fact, get added to the client’s driving record. This can be a tough thing to do in some cases. Beyond the immediate consequence of a mandatory additional revocation, getting caught driving while your license is revoked never looks good, and, in some cases, can (at least for a time), be a deal killer in a restoration appeal. Even after a mandatory additional period of revocation expires and a person becomes legally eligible to file a license appeal, the blemish on their driving record from getting caught driving after his or her license was revoked, especially if that happened after he or she claims to have quit drinking, will follow him or her through the restoration process.
If you’re facing a driving while revoked charge and you have any hope of eventually winning your license back, you don’t want to underestimate the importance of this situation. You must remember, ANYTHING that appears on your driving record is going to invoke another like addition revocation or suspension. Any plea deal must necessarily end up with a dismissed charge or a deal that makes sure nothing ends up on your driving record if you want to win your license back sooner than later. Feel free to call our office if you find yourself in the position of being charged with driving on a suspended or revoked license.