Under Michigan law, your driver’s license may be suspended or revoked by the Secretary of State or a court for a variety of reasons. Driving is always a privilege, not a right. Revocation involves the termination of your driving privileges. In Michigan, revocations are indefinite. A suspension terminates your driving privileges for a set period of time.

When Can a Driver’s License Be Revoked in Michigan?

Michigan law (MCL 257.303) sets out multiple offenses that may lead to a driver’s license revocation. Some of the most common reasons include:

  • Repeated drunk driving conditions,
  • Reckless driving and other traffic violations,
  • Substance abuse problems,
  • Unpaid child support,
  • A financial responsibility judgment, or
  • Physical or mental disability that prevents you from driving safely.
  • Also, a driver’s license may be revoked due to DUI-related offenses such as refusing to submit to a Breathalyzer test.

If your license is suspended, your license is not automatically reinstated when the suspension ends. Instead, you must reapply for a driver’s license and pay a reinstatement fee (between $85 and $125).

A driver’s license revocation is open-ended and indefinite. After one year, you may reapply for a driver’s license. (If you have two revocations within seven years, you must wait five years to reapply.) You must:

  • Have clear and convincing evidence that you now a safe driver,
  • Undergo a Driver Assessment hearing,
  • Pay a reinstatement fee (between $85 and $125), and
  • May have to complete other obligations (such a substance abuse evaluation or a road test).

You may only reapply for your license once per year. Make sure you are well prepared before filing a request and consider hiring an experienced driver’s license lawyer. If your reapplication is denied, you may have other appeal rights.

Once a person’s driver’s license is revoked, it becomes an additional criminal offense to drive with a revoked license. Driving with a revoked or suspended license is typically a criminal misdemeanor in Michigan.

What Are the Penalties for Driving with a Suspended or Revoked License?

If you are convicted of driving with a suspended or revoked license, the judge will penalize you pursuant to MCL 257.904.

  • First time conviction: Up to 93 days in jail and up to $500 in fines.
  • Subsequent convictions: Up to one year in prison and up to $1000 in fines.

The Secretary of State may also cancel your vehicle registration plates. Additionally, you may face felony charges and increased fines if you were involved in a motor vehicle accident that injured or killed another person.

How Does a Prosecutor Prove I Drove on a Revoked License?

The prosecutor carries the burden of proof. In other words, he or she must prove that you operated a vehicle on a highway, street, or other public area accessible to vehicles (like a parking lot) while your license was suspended or revoked. This must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt, which can be difficult in some circumstances.

Are There Any Defenses?

Unlike some states, being unaware of a suspension or revocation is not a defense in Michigan. However, you may have a legal defense if you were driving due to an emergency that endangered either human life or property. You may also argue that the prosecutor failed to meet the burden of proof.

Do I Need a Michigan Lawyer for a Charge of Driving on a Revoked License?

For most Michigan residents, a driver’s license is a vital part of life. Without a vehicle, it can be very difficult to get to work, school, and other locations. If you have been charged with driving on a revoked or suspended license, you may be facing significant fines and jail time. Repeat offenders and negligent drivers face even larger penalties.

A driver’s license lawyer can help you prepare your case and understand your rights and responsibilities under Michigan law. If you need help getting your driver’s license back or fighting criminal charges, consider speaking with an experienced lawyer.