Archive for the 'Driver's License Appeal' Category

Are Speed Limit Signs Merely a Suggestion?

If you receive a ticket for speeding, you might want to make sure that speeding ticket is actually enforceable under Michigan law!

Every driver knows that speed limits can go up and down like a roller coaster, on any given stretch of Michigan road. But few people understand who sets these speed limits, and under what law(s) speeding violations can be legally prosecuted.

 Public Act 85 of 2006 (PA 85) is the State statute that actually regulates where and how speed limits are set, and what penalties may be imposed for violating these speed limits. But local jurisdictions do not always follow this State law.

Recently, there have been a couple of articles in local news papers discussing this problem.  These articles are not new.  Last year there was a similar article discussing how many of the speed limits are kept artificially low to generate revenue.

This recent string of articles appears to have garnered the attention of State Rep. Rick Jones, R-Grand Ledge, who intends to introduce legislation forcing local jurisdictions to follow Public Act 85 of 2006 (PA 85), so that unfair speed limit laws are not put in place to “trap” otherwise careful drivers.

What does PA 85 actually state?  PA 85 addresses several different State statutes, but the Speed Limit debate has focused on the following language in Michigan Compiled Law 257.627 (PA 85), that mandates speed limits shall be:

(d) 25 miles per hour on a highway segment with 60 or more vehicular access points within 1/2 mile.

(e) 35 miles per hour on a highway segment with not less than 45 vehicular access points but no more than 59 vehicular access points within 1/2 mile.

(f) 45 miles per hour on a highway segment with not less than 30 vehicular access points but no more than 44 vehicular access points within 1/2 mile; and,

(3) It is prima facie unlawful for a person to exceed the speed limits prescribed in subsection (2), except as provided in section 629.

As a criminal defense attorney, I can see how these sections of PA 85 may be helpful for many drivers to avoid difficulties associated with speeding tickets. 

In other words, while this statute appears almost too complicated to be immediately useful, a skilled defense attorney may be able to use PA 85 to argue that the speed limit in question was not “legal” under Michigan law.

It may not be realistic for the average driver to be on the side of the road mapping out the best 1/2 mile for them to defend their speeding tickets.  But a skilled defense attorney can address the following issues: Should you calculate a half mile from the point of the ticket?  From the point the officer alleged you were speeding?  Or calculate a 1/4 mile before and after the point the officer alleged you were speeding? 

PowerPoint presentations addressing the legality of a certain speed limit might become a more integral part of informal or formal hearings regarding traffic offenses.  Perhaps video presentation where each curb cut, driveway, side street, or other “access point” is numbered would be useful.  The same video could have some indication of the mileage or measurements in question. 

In time, the situation will be corrected through introduction of new legislation, but in the meantime we’ll be watching to see how the courts react toward arguments about unenforceable speed limits.

If you have further questions about fighting a speeding ticket, contact the experienced lawyers at our firm and we will discuss what you may be able to do to fight that ticket.

(To view PA 85, visit: http://www.legislature.mi.gov/documents/2005-2006/publicact/htm/2006-PA-0085.htm). 

Attorney Daryl Wood is an experienced Michigan defense attorney, and a recognized legal expert on Driver’s License suspension and restoration issues. If you have received a ticket, have had a license suspended, or have been subject to Driver’s Responsibility fees in Michigan, Mr. Wood can help and advise you.

Contact Mr. Wood at: 313.278.8811 or 248.855.0911. Or visit his web site at http://www.crimlawattorney.net or http://www.drunkdrivingmichiganlawyer.com or  www.michiganmiplawyer.com.

The Unintended Consequences of State Government: Understanding Michigan’s Driver Responsibility Law

by Attorney Daryl Wood, JD

In an all-too-common story that is repeated over and over in the State of Michigan and all over the country, a person – we’ll call him George – is pulled over for speeding.  The officer gives George a break and only issues him a ticket for No Proof of Insurance on Person – this way, George doesn’t have to appear for a hearing.  The officer tells George, “Go to the courthouse, and get the ticket signed off, and you won’t have worry about appearing in front of the judge.”  Following the officer’s advice, George takes his ticket up to the courthouse.  As promised, the court clerk signs off on his ticket and charges George $25.  However, a few weeks later, George receives a surprise in his mailbox – a bill for  $200 in driver responsibility fees for each of the next two years.

Since money is tight, George sets up a payment plan with the Department of Treasury.  He struggles to meet the payments and misses one.  Because of his missed payment, George’s license is suspended.  Unable to pay off the assessment right away and facing the loss of his employment, George continues to drive to and from work.  It’s not long before he receives a ticket for Driving While License Suspended and another $500 driver responsibility fee assessment for each of the next two years.

Come tax time, George learns the hard way that if there is an outstanding driver responsibility fee, Michigan will intercept your state tax returns and take out the fee before sending you the rest of your tax return.  George is now stuck in an uncontrollable cycle, which continues and just about consumes him.

How Did This Happen?

In 2003, the State of Michigan enacted the Driver Responsibility Fee through 2003 Senate Bill 509, Public Act 165 of 2003.  Today the list of fees can be found at http://www.michigan.gov/driverresponsibility/0,1607,7-213-32166—,00.html.  In 2003 – much like today – the Michigan Legislature was struggling to balance the state budget, when they decided to mirror a New Jersey program for driver responsibility fees.  Statistics showed that New Jersey was boasting collection rates of 60% on these fees.  Hoping for the same results, Michigan anticipated raising $74.8 million dollars per year from Driver Responsibility Fees.  The Legislature adopted the driver responsible program, stating that its desire was to curb participation in serious driving offenses.  In reality, Michigan’s actual collection rate was somewhat lower than New Jersey’s, and ended up at 48.5% through 2008.

Unfortunately, the driver responsibility program has had a devastating effect on the lower-income residents of this state.  In 2005, there were 95,323 offenses involving Driving While License Suspended.  By 2007, that statistic rose to 44%, or 137,673 cases.  Since 2003, the State of Michigan has billed over $800 million but collected only approximately $400 million.

Many of the individuals that are assessed the driver responsibility fees are not even aware of the program until it is too late.  Assessments of $200 for No Insurance or No Proof of Insurance and assessments of $150 for Expired License commonly surprise individuals who generally are not advised in advance of the consequences of pleas of responsibility or guilt.  These fees don’t just hit you for one year, but they come back again the next year.

Unintended Consequences

Here is the problem:  The State created the program because it needed a new revenue stream, but even at the time they implemented it, their model for the program – New Jersey’s system – showed that they would never collect all of the fees.  This meant that over 40% of the people who were covered by the far-reaching umbrella of the driver responsibility program would never be able to afford to pay off their driver responsibility fees, and thus would end up with suspended licenses and continually multiplying bills.

The consequence of this is that the legislature’s new revenue stream became a direct hit to low-income families and individuals.  While the legislature knew that there was a very good chance that 40% of the people charged with these fees would be financially unable to pay, they failed to build a safety valve into the program.  There currently is no way for low-income people to petition for a reduction in the outstanding balances based on financial hardship.

Why was this bill enacted?  Those responsible for enacting the legislation wanted to be able to state to the public that they did not vote to raise taxes.  However, this is really a tax in disguise – a punitive measure on low income individuals without judicial oversight.

Thank you, State Legislators, for creating a new criminal class for the poor.  Even criminal restitution statutes allow for a person to avoid imprisonment based solely on their inability to pay.  However, now that driver responsibility fees are the law, many in Michigan people face jail time for Driving While License Suspended for no other reason than that they are unable to pay their bills.

Attorney Daryl Wood is an experienced Michigan defense attorney, and a recognized legal expert on Driver’s License suspension and restoration issues. If you have received a ticket, have had a license suspended, or have been subject to Driver’s Responsibility fees in Michigan, Mr. Wood can help and advise you.

Contact Mr. Wood at: 313.278.8811 or 248.855.0911. Or visit his web site at http://www.crimlawattorney.com or  http://www.drunkdrivingmichiganlawyer.com

How To Restore Your Driver’s License – Michigan Law

By Attorney Daryl Wood 

In Michigan, keeping your job is hard enough without having the additional handicap of your driver’s license being suspended or revoked.  Having to depend on friends, family, co-workers or public transportation to get to work is not a recipe for promotion.

A driver’s license may be revoked for many reasons under Michigan law:
    –   repeat drunk driving or substance abuse convictions
    –   refusal of a breathalyzer test (automatic suspension)
    –   points related to suspensions or revocations (12 points within 2 years)

If your license has been revoked you must apply for the return of your license and you must jump through several “hoops” to have a chance for its restoration.

The majority of license restoration cases in Michigan involve an application and hearing through the Michigan Secretary of State, not through the courts. This means you are subject to all of Lansing’s “red tape” and complex regulations.

Unfortunately, many people whose licenses are revoked are not prepared to request a hearing when they become eligible to get it back, and they are therefore unsuccessful in restoring their license.  Speaking  with an experienced driver’s license attorney well before the  eligibility date will ensure that you are doing everything necessary to assure the best chances of success at restoring your license.

Ideally, you want an attorney who will review all of your paperwork before submitting it to the Secretary of State, and who will conduct a practice interview to prepare you for your hearing to ensure you are properly prepared.

If you attempt the hearing on your own, there is a much greater likelihood of denial.  If you are denied after your initial hearing, your appeal must usually be handled through the County Circuit Court for your county of residence.

When attempting an appeal on your own, you should know that any mistakes you make in the process will haunt you in every future hearing until you get your license fully restored.  Most times, the mistakes made will cost you an additional year of eligibility before you can request a new hearing.

Only an experienced Michigan license restoration attorney can evaluate your situation and advise you as to the proper steps and restoration procedures that apply to your specific case.

When choosing an attorney to help you restore your driver’s license, you need someone who knows the process, knows the hearing officers, and understands your likelihood of success, before you walk into the hearing

You will find highly experienced Michigan license restoration attorneys at the Law Offices of Raymond A. Cassar, P.L.C.  We have helped literally hundreds of Michigan residents get their licenses restored. We can help you. Visit www.drunkdrivingmichiganlawyer.com or www.crimlawattorney.com or call (248) 855-0911 or (313) 278-8811.