• News
  • The Costly Consequences of Driving Without a License in Michigan

The Costly Consequences of Driving Without a License in Michigan

The Costly Consequences of Driving Without a License in Michigan

It can happen to anyone. You rush out the door and – surprise! –arrive at your destination only to discover you’ve left your purse or wallet back at home. That situation can be cause for embarrassment, but it could also cost you a pretty penny. Because if you happen to be pulled over by a law enforcement office, that missing driver’s license can very quickly complicate things.

Let’s talk about the potential penalties you could experience for getting caught 1.) driving without your license on your person, 2.) driving with an expired license, or 3.) driving with a suspended or revoked license.

What Happens if You’re Caught Driving Without a License?

This is an unideal situation, but not nearly as serious as some other, similar offenses. If you do possess a valid license but simply don’t have it with you when you’re pulled over, you will often just get a warning from the police officer that pulled you over. However, you could be charged with up to a misdemeanor in Michigan. If the police do give you a ticket or charge you with a misdemeanor, you may be able to get it dismissed in court but going through that process is often more of a hassle than it is worth. Additionally, if you are repeatedly caught driving without a license on you, the charges will increase in severity.

What Happens if You Get Pulled Over Driving on an Expired License?

As we mentioned in a recent article, there are many situations that can result in points being added to your license. This is one of them. If you’re pulled over with an expired license, you could be charged with a misdemeanor and you can have two points blackening your record for the next two years. And, if the reason you were pulled over was for a traffic violation like speeding or running a red light, those extra points will remain on your insurance record for seven years, likely raising your car insurance rates even higher than they are already. (As you probably know already, Michigan has some of the highest auto insurance premiums in America.)

As we demonstrated in that previous article, you can check your driving record through a convenient online portal where, for a small fee, you can retrieve your file. The local Secretary of State office will also provide your record if you visit in person, or you can request it by mail (fees still apply).If this happens to you, make sure to renew your expired driver’s license at your very earliest opportunity.

What are the Penalties for Driving on a Suspended or Revoked License?

The points keep on coming! This is a significantly more serious offense than merely forgetting your license at home or failing to renew it. That’s because it suggests to law enforcement officials that you knew your driver’s license was invalid, but you continued to ignore the law anyway. While driving on a suspended license still ranks as a misdemeanor with two points added to your driving record, the penalties for doing so are much stiffer than driving with an expired license. Here’s what Michigan law says about driving when your license has been suspended, revoked, or denied:

For a first offense, you can be imprisoned for up to 93 days and fined up to $500 – or both. Plus, your vehicle’s license plates will be canceled by the Secretary of State after they receive notification from police officials. For a second or subsequent violation of this type, you’re facing up to a year in prison and a fine up to $1,000. If you didn’t already lose your license tags, you can be sure they’ll be confiscated this time.

But that’s not all. The length of your previous driver’s license suspension or revocation will be doubled, your vehicle registration will be revoked, and you’ll be required to pay an annual $500 “driver responsibility fee” for two years. And, if you’re really unfortunate, your vehicle could be impounded for up to 120 days.

All of this bad karma remains on your record for seven long years. Get caught driving with a suspended license again during that time, and the vehicle impoundment period rises to six months — along with your registration and license plates being seized by authorities once again.

What to Do if You Don’t Have Your License on You During a Traffic Stop

Do your best to explain your situation honestly and pleasantly, and you will stand a better chance at leniency. If you’re not too far from home, an officer may even permit you to return and retrieve your license, so you don’t run into any more problems. But if you encounter an officer who’s a stickler for proper identification, you may receive either a warning or, worst-case scenario, end up with a costly ticket.

Can a “Driver Improvement” Course Remove These Points from My Record?

Unfortunately, no. Some points for many types of violations (speeding, illegal U-turns, running a red traffic signal, improper passing, disobeying a stop sign, etc.) can be removed from your driving record if you take an approved Basic Driver Improvement course. However, any points you receive for driving with an expired or suspended license are not subject to that provision. You’ll just have to be patient and drive extra carefully until they naturally expire after two years.

A Traffic Law Attorney Might Be Able to Help Resolve Your Driver’s License Woes

You’re not completely out of luck, however. At Mike Morse Law Firm, we specialize in winning personal injury cases for deserving clients. But that doesn’t mean we don’t also know some dependable, top-notch traffic lawyers who may be able to help you out if you have to deal with offenses like those described above (among others). We’ll be happy to refer you to trusted local attorneys who know their way around the local traffic court system. Give us a call at 855-MIKE-WINS (855-645-3946) or visit our website, and we’ll do whatever we can to steer you in the right direction.

The Costly Consequences of Driving Without a License in Michigan

Content checked by Mike Morse, personal injury attorney with Mike Morse Injury Law Firm. Mike Morse is the founder of Mike Morse Law Firm, the largest personal injury law firm in Michigan. Since being founded in 1995, Mike Morse Law Firm has grown to 150 employees, served 25,000 clients, and collected more than $1 billion for victims of auto, truck and motorcycle accidents. The main office is in Southfield, MI but you can also find us in Detroit, Sterling Heights and many other locations.