Being charged for driving with a suspended license (DWLS) is a stressful situation and can carry with it significant fees and possible jail time. However not all cases are the same and it is important to keep in mind that prosecutors will view cases differently depending on the circumstances surrounding them. Having a good idea of how a prosecutor will handle a case is critical in order to properly mount a defense and achieve the best outcome for the accused.
As a criminal law firm with over 30 years of experience, Kelly & Kelly P.C. has successfully represented clients charged DWLS as well as a variety of other criminal offenses. Our experience allows us to understand what the prosecutor really thinks about a case, and how to win a DWLS case for our clients.
How The Prosecutor Views DWLS Charges
While this is a criminal misdemeanor, DWLS tends to fall toward the bottom of priority cases for a prosecutor. The most important things prosecutors look for when working on this type of case is determining why the license was suspended to begin with and what the person was doing at the time they came into contact with police.
If a defendant’s license is suspended because of a drunk driving charge and they are in violation of that suspension then there will be less leeway to have sympathy for the defendant. If an individual has plead guilty to drunk driving or is found guilty at trial, then they should be serving their suspension as the law dictates; there’s a good reason why they should not be driving.
However, if a person’s license is suspended because they owe money to the Secretary of State as a result of past due traffic tickets or driver responsibility fees, some prosecutors may view these cases with a lot more empathy for the defendant. The Michigan Secretary of State is well known for racking up late fees, extra fees and creating a lot of red tape for drivers. With this in mind, prosecutors are always open to trying to work with the person charged; if they needed some time to clear up money owed, most prosecutors would give a 30-60 day adjournment to allow some time to clean things up.
Prosecutors don’t want to stick individuals with a DWLS charge and make things worse for their situation. If things were cleaned up, they usually offer a non-DWLS type offense such as No Operators License on Person or another non-abstractable offense. Sometimes it is nearly impossible for a person to clean things up due to finances, and those situations are taken on a case by case basis for reductions.
Attorneys For Driving With a Suspended License
As criminal defense lawyers who help clients charged with Driving With a Suspended License in Michigan, we take a close look at our client’s driving record to better understand the nature of the suspension, and anticipate how the prosecutor may view the case. In addition to this, we also get as much information about the incident as possible to understand why our client came in contact with the police, and the circumstances surrounding the police contact.
The idea here is to get a complete picture and to try to better understand why the defendant decided to drive against the law. Were they even aware of the suspension? Or perhaps is the wrong address on file These can happen and often are enough to get someone off the hook as it was an administrative error.
Deep diving into the circumstances surrounding the charges also may reveal other things that can work on the defendant’s behalf. In certain rare cases, the defendant’s operation of the vehicle can be brought into question. An example of this is if the officer only shows up on the scene when the car is no longer in motion. The burden of proof is upon the prosecution to show that the defendant was indeed driving the vehicle. In many cases, this can be enough to have charges dismissed.
In addition to creating as much leverage as possible around the circumstances and facts of the case, a good criminal defense attorney will also work hard to shape the perception of their client for the prosecutor and judge. When a defendant walks into court, the few things by default that the prosecutor and judge know about them are their name, the criminal charge of driving on a suspended license, why the license was suspended and why the police made contact with the defendant. None of these factors are positive for the defendant, especially if it is the only information available.
This is why having a solid criminal defense attorney is so critical, as they can paint a complete picture. They will acknowledge the viewpoint of the other side while also adding to that package of information, such as providing more information on the defendant’s family, career, background and other positive character traits. On top of this, other elements can be added to help appease the prosecution such as a driver improvement course and community service; if there’s any mental or emotional issues, it may be suggested that a counselor be involved.
While to many this may seem excessive for having a suspended license, there is no harm in doing so. In fact, going through this effort only helps improve the perception of the defendant as long as they’re willing to put in the extra work and show who they really are outside of this incident. If a person wants an extraordinary result, they need to go above and beyond to achieve it.
The number one goal for a DWLS type case is to push for a dismissal of the original charge. Ideally the end result for our clients is something that is not going to impact their driving record, while simultaneously avoiding probation and potentially walk away with credit for the proactive items completed and pay a small fine. Ultimately, the attorneys at Kelly & Kelly want to ensure our clients avoid jail time, get their driver’s license restored, and get their life back on track.