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Driving While Suspended/Revoked

Driving While Suspended or Revoked – What You Need to Know

Getting charged with driving while your license is suspended or revoked can be scary. Believe me, I know. I’ve worked with tons of folks in this situation. It happens more than you’d think in Michigan, just ’cause we need to drive everywhere here.

Let me break it down nice and simple-like. I’m not a lawyer, just someone whose been there. I’ll walk you through the basics so you know what to expect.

The Charges

There’s two main charges – DWLS and DWLR. DWLS is driving while license suspended. DWLR is driving while revoked. They fall under the same law, MCL 257.904.

To be convicted, the prosecutor’s gotta prove three things:

  1. You were driving a vehicle
  2. You were driving on a public road or somewhere public like a parking lot
  3. Your license was suspended or revoked

They also gotta prove you knew your license was suspended. More on that later.


These are criminal charges, not just traffic tickets. That means potential jail time and fines.

For a first offense DWLS or DWLR, you can get:

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Guerline Menard
Guerline Menard
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  • Up to 93 days in jail
  • Up to a $500 fine

For a second offense, it’s:

  • Up to 1 year in jail
  • Up to a $1000 fine

Not fun. But there’s things a lawyer can do to help, which we’ll get to.

Suspension vs Revocation

Now this part’s real important. There’s a big difference between a suspended license and a revoked one.

Your license can get suspended for things like:

  • Unpaid tickets
  • Too many points
  • Violating a restricted license

So with these, you might not even know your license got suspended til you get pulled over.

Revocation is different. It’s for serious stuff like multiple DUIs. When your license is revoked, you no longer have a valid license at all.

So if you get popped for DWLS when it was suspended for tickets, you got a better case than if it was revoked for DUIs, ya know?


Even if you get caught red handed, a good lawyer can help. Here’s some common defenses:

  • Violation of rights – did the cop have a legit reason to pull you over? This can get evidence thrown out.
  • Not actually driving – were you really “operating” the vehicle? What if it was parked and turned off? Gray area.
  • Didn’t know license was suspended – they gotta prove you knew. Just sayin’ “I didn’t know” can sometimes work.
  • Emergency exception – you can drive with a suspended license if it’s an emergency and you’re getting help. Medical emergency, car accident, etc.

Not every case can get dismissed. But a lawyer can often plea bargain it down to a lesser charge like:

  • Allowing Unlicensed Driver – this is a misdemeanor but no license suspension
  • No Valid License on Person – also a misdemeanor, but no suspension or probation

Way better than a straight DWLS/DWLR conviction. Trust me on that.

How Long Does it Stay on Your Record

This sucks, but DWLS and DWLR convictions stay on your criminal record forever. They never go away.

Other misdemeanors like DUIs eventually become non-public after awhile. But not these. They stick around to haunt you.

So it’s really important to fight the charges if you can. I can’t stress that enough. Don’t just plead guilty to make it go away. Talk to a lawyer.

Getting Caught Again

Man, I wish I didn’t have to say this, but I gotta keep it real. If you get caught driving when your license is already suspended or revoked, you can get in even more trouble.

If it’s revoked for DUIs and you get caught driving, they can revoke it again for another 1-5 years. Plus it looks really bad when you eventually try to get your license back.

I know it’s hard when you gotta drive to work and stuff. But do whatever you can to not get caught again. Take back roads, drive an old beater, whatever. If you’re revoked, look into getting a restricted license so you can at least drive legally for certain things.

Finding a Lawyer

If you got popped with one of these charges, don’t go it alone. Hire a lawyer who knows their stuff. Shop around and find someone experienced with DWLS and DWLR cases.

A good lawyer can make a huge difference in the outcome. I’ve seen it a million times. They know all the ins and outs of plea bargaining and getting charges reduced or dismissed.

Well I hope this helps give you a good overview of what to expect with these kinds of charges. Let me know if you have any other questions! Stay strong and keep your head up.

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