Articles Posted in Traffic Tickets

In Michigan the of driving while license suspended, revoked, or denied (DWLS) is a misdemeanor that carries for a first offense a maximum jail sentence of 93 days and a fine of not more than $500.  A conviction for this offense will result in a suspension of driving privileges.  It is not common for a person who is charged with DWLS to claim that they did not know that there license was suspended at the time.  This situation is completely possible.  Reasons for this may be the person believed that a family member paid or handled the ticket for them, they were not told that they had to pay a clearance fee on the ticket to reinstate driving privileges when they paid a ticket, somebody else used their name or identification while driving, they never received a notice from the Court or Michigan Secretary of State that the license was suspended.

It does not seem fair that a person could have a misdemeanor offense permanently affixed to their criminal and driving record when there was no intent to break the law.  A conviction for DWLS is permanently affixed to a criminal record, because DWLS (pursuant to MCL 257.904) is written under the Michigan Vehicle Code, and offenses under the Michigan Vehicle Code are not subject to expungement.  It is rather sad because this isn’t really even a case of ignorance of the law (which is never a defense), but more of the ignorance of an important fact that lead to a criminal charge.  Had the person known of this important fact, in many cases the individual would have either not driven or took the steps necessary to have the driver’s license status corrected or restored so the offense would never have occurred.

What does Michigan law say as it relates to intent?  According to Michigan Criminal Jury Instruction 15.20 the prosecution has 4 elements that it must prove beyond a reasonable doubt for a conviction to occur for the offense of driving while license suspended or revoked:

May people have questions when they receive a ticket in from a police officer or in the mail.  The first question usually is how can the ticket be taken care of.  When tickets are issued the officer will indicate the “Type” of ticket issued           ( usually in the middle portion of the ticket).  The choices under “Type” include the following “C/I” (civil infraction); “Misd” (misdemeanor); “Fel” (felony); “Warn” (warning); “Fug” (fugitive); and “Waiv” (Waivable).

“Warn” (warnings) are just that.  They do not require any further action on behalf of the person issued the ticket

“C/I” (civil infraction) can be handled by either paying the ticket before the appearance date that is indicated on the ticket.  The person issued the ticket has the opinion to challenge the ticket at a hearing.  Many people who receive moving violations (for example: speeding; disobey traffic control device, etc.) choose to challenge the ticket to try and avoid points and to try and avoid having the ticket appear on the person’s driving record.  The person issued the ticket can elect to schedule a formal or informal hearing with the court.  Formal hearings often occur when the person issued the ticket hires a lawyer to contest the ticket (which is often a smart decision).  At a formal hearing the ticket can either be contested in front of the Judge or the parties reach a resolution of the ticket (which on many occasions involves a reduction).  Informal hearings involve only the person issued the ticket, the police officer who issued the ticket, and a magistrate.  Informal hearings often place the person who was issued the ticket at a disadvantage because  the magistrate likely has a regular familiar relationship with the police officer, the person issued the ticket more likely than not has no relationship with the court, and the District Court relies upon the money it collects from tickets as part of its operating budget.  Hence, the chance of prevailing at a informal hearing in many courts is low.

It is not uncommon for a police officer to mail out a ticket, or for a court to send out notice of a traffic offense or misdemeanor in the mail.  The ticket will have on it the name of the offense, the location where the offense needs to be handled, and a date by which the ticket or offense needs to be addressed.

There are several reasons why the notice is sent out by mail, rather than given at the time of the alleged offense:

  1.  Sometimes there is an ongoing investigation that needs to be completed before a decision can be made concerning a charge.  Examples of this include: in a DUI case the police are waiting to determine the blood alcohol level from a blood sample; in a possession of a controlled substance case the alleged contraband needs to be tested to confirm the nature of the substance; the officer needs to conduct additional interviews to determine whether or not there is probable cause that an offense occurred;

In Michigan, individuals must have proof of legal citizenship or legal presence in the United States in order to obtain a valid driver’s license.   Undocumented and illegal aliens at the present time are not eligible to obtain a Michigan driver’s license.  Most aliens (including undocumented aliens) and most other non-residents of Michigan can protect themselves from accusations of Driving Without a License by taking the steps outlined by Michigan Compiled Law 257.302a.

This law states that non-residents are not required to obtain a Michigan driver’s license to drive in Michigan.  In order to drive legally the non-resident must do the following:

  1. Make sure that your home country is part of an international treaty or other agreement that is recognized by Michigan.  The following countries are treaty countries:

Driving while license suspended, revoked, or denied (also called DWLS or DWLS/R/D) is a criminal offense that is treated seriously by many courts.  This offense can be prosecuted under State law by a county prosecutor or under local ordinance by a city attorney.  The possible penalty for a first offense DWLS, or a DWLS prosecuted under a local ordinance, is up to 93 days in jail, a fine of up to $500, court costs, possible probation with conditions (driver safety class, community service, no driving without a valid license, etc.), 2 points added to driving record, a driver responsibility fee of $500 for 2 consecutive years, and a mandatory suspension of driving privileges.  DWLS prosecuted as a second offense carries up to 1 year in jail, a fine of up to $1,000, court costs, possible probation with conditions, 2 points added to driving record, and a driver’s responsibility fee of $500 for 2 consecutive years.  Additional DWLS offenses can lead to license plate confiscation and vehicle immobilization.

The philosophy that many Courts employ is to try and encourage Defendants to find ways to obtain a valid driver’s license.  In some cases this is possible (if the DWLS conviction is not entered) by paying off outstanding tickets, paying reinstatement fees, and going to the Michigan Secretary of State office.  However, in many cases it is impossible for the Defendant to obtain a valid license in a timely manner.  Reasons for this include that the person’s license was revoked due to prior drinking an driving convictions, the length of the person’s current suspension does not allow for the person to get their license back in the near future, the person has health or vision issues that prevent the Secretary of State from issuing a valid license, financial issues, or the person is not a citizen or a green card holder and the State of Michigan will not issue a valid license.

One of the problems with Michigan are the cost and limited options for public transportation.  In most cases driving is the only solution for a person to be employed, support their family, and otherwise get to and from different locations.  Judges are by and large not sympathetic to this.  For persons with bad driving records, or with a history of DWLS, jail is often ordered along with probation.  For persons without bad driving records, probation is common.  However, a common condition of probation is to not violate any laws, which includes not driving a car without obtaining a valid license.  The person is placed in a catch-22 situation.

In Michigan a driver who has reason to believe that he or she has been in an accident has a responsibility to stop the vehicle at the scene of the accident and remain there.    Failure to comply can result in a criminal prosecution under either State law or local ordinance, depending upon the circumstances.

According to Michigan Compiled Law 257.619 the driver has other responsibilities as well:

First, the driver must provide his or her name and address, the vehicle owner’s name and address, and the registration number of the vehicle to a police officer, the individual struck, or the driver or occupants of the other vehicle or vehicles involved in the accident.

It does not take much for a police officer to pull a car over in Michigan.  Even though the 4th Amendment to the United States Constitution protects the right of the people from unreasonable searches and seizures, people still get pulled over with little justification.

Part of the reason is that the law uses words such as “unreasonable”, which gets watered down over time in favor of law enforcement.   When a stop is challenged in Court, the Judge  is supposed to examine the totality of the circumstances in making a decision, according to Ohio v. Robinette, 519 US 33; 117 S Ct 417 (1996).  The officer must have a reasonable suspicion that the vehicle or an occupant of the vehicle was in violation of the law.  Terry v. Ohio, 392 US 1; 88 S Ct 1868 (1968); People v. Williams, 236 Mich App 610 (1999).

Included in the notion of stopping someone based upon a violation of the law are things such as equipment violations.  Under the Michigan Motor Vehicle Code an officer may stop and inspect a motor vehicle for an equipment violation.  Michigan Compiled Law 257.715(1) states that equipment on motor vehicles must be maintained, and a uniformed police officer is able to stop a car and inspect the vehicle and issue traffic tickets for defects as long as he or she has reasonable grounds to do so.  Equipment violations do not even have to be a safety violation or effect the performance of the car.  For example, if the light bulb that lights up the license plate is burned out, which is a violation of Michigan Compiled Law 257.686(2), this is enough to allow a stop.

Below is a list of traffic tickets which need to be addressed at the 52/1 District Court in Novi, Michigan when the traffic offense occurs in one of  the following communities: Commerce Township; Highland Township; Lyon Township; Milford Township; Novi; Novi Township; South Lyon; Village of Milford; Village of Wolverine Lake; Walled Lake; Wixom.  The 52/1 District Court is located at 48150 Grand River Avenue in the city of Novi, Michigan.  The Judges currently serving the 52/4 District Court are the Honorable Robert Bondy, the Honorable Travis Reeds, and the Honorable David Law.

Misdemeanor traffic tickets require the individual cited to appear in court to address the matter.  Civil infractions can be either contested in court (if the individual makes a timely request) or payment can be made in person, by mail, or online to satisfy the ticket.  The fines listed below are subject to change.  Misdemeanor traffic offenses also carry a potential penalty that may include the following depending upon the offense: jail time, probation with conditions, fines, costs, restitution, driver’s responsibility fees, and driver’s license sanctions.   Failure to appear or pay tickets on a timely basis can result in a bench warrant for the individual’s arrest, additional fines and costs, and suspension of driving privileges.  If you receive a misdemeanor  traffic ticket, or wish to contest a civil infraction, you should hire an experienced local attorney, such as the attorneys at Hilf & Hilf, PLC.

Drivers License Violations

Below is a list of traffic tickets which need to be addressed at the 52/3 District Court in Rochester Hills, Michigan when the traffic offense occurs in one of  the following communities: Addison Township; Auburn Hills; Lake Angelus; Oakland Township; Orion Township; Oxford Township; Rochester; Rochester Hills; Village of Lake Orion; Village of Leonard; and the Village of Oxford.  The 52/3 District Court is located at 700 Barclay Circle in the city of Rochester Hills, Michigan 48307.  The Judges currently serving the 52/4 District Court are the Honorable Julie A. Nicholson, the Honorable Lisa L. Asadoorian, and the Honorable Nancy Tolwin Carniak.

Misdemeanor traffic tickets require the individual cited to appear in court to address the matter.  Civil infractions can be either contested in court (if the individual makes a timely request) or payment can be made in person, by mail, or online to satisfy the ticket.  The fines listed below are subject to change.  Misdemeanor traffic offenses also carry a potential penalty that may include the following depending upon the offense: jail time, probation with conditions, fines, costs, restitution, driver’s responsibility fees, and driver’s license sanctions.   Failure to appear or pay tickets on a timely basis can result in a bench warrant for the individual’s arrest, additional fines and costs, and suspension of driving privileges.  If you receive a misdemeanor  traffic ticket, or wish to contest a civil infraction, you should hire an experienced local attorney, such as the attorneys at Hilf & Hilf, PLC.

Drivers License Violations

Below is a list of traffic tickets which need to be addressed at the 52/1 District Court in Troy, Michigan when the traffic offense occurs in one of  the following communities: Troy, Clawson. The Judges currently serving the 52/4 District Court are the Honorable Maureen McGinnis and the Honorable Kirsten Nielsen Hartig.

Misdemeanor traffic tickets require the individual cited to appear in court to address the matter.  Civil infractions can be either contested in court (if the individual makes a timely request) or payment can be made in person, by mail, or online to satisfy the ticket.  The fines listed below are subject to change.  Misdemeanor traffic offenses also carry a potential penalty that may include the following depending upon the offense: jail time, probation with conditions, fines, costs, restitution, driver’s responsibility fees, and driver’s license sanctions.   Failure to appear or pay tickets on a timely basis can result in a bench warrant for the individual’s arrest, additional fines and costs, and suspension of driving privileges.  If you receive a misdemeanor  traffic ticket, or wish to contest a civil infraction, you should hire an experienced local attorney, such as the attorneys at Hilf & Hilf, PLC.

Drivers License Violations