What Are The Potential Defenses In A Driving While Suspended Case?
For example, you had properly done something to unsuspend your license, and it should have been, but it was not cleared, it does not matter. It could have been the clerks fault. Maybe she did not enter it in the computer correctly, so you should have received court supervision, but she enters and sees a conviction. Until it clears the computer, you are still considered suspended. This thing happens with the DUI suspensions quite a bit. If a person has six-month suspension for driving on a suspended license, and statutory summary suspension for five months, and twenty-nine days into the suspension, they need to send in their mandatory reinstatement fees.
If that reinstatement fee gets there on time, and on the last day, but it sits on the clerks’ desk for three weeks before she puts it into the computer, even though you should have been clear by this specific date, you are not considered clear in their computer. You are still subject to arrest; you are still subject to forfeiture, and all of those nasty things. Even if it is the clerks’ error, it was not your fault, so you have an obligation to maintain the status of your own license, and you can always call and check to see if you license is now valid. You might say, “I revoked my suspension in the June 1st and I’ve paid my reinstatement fee”, but if it did not clear that computer, you are still in trouble.
A good attorney is going to make a difference on a summary suspension. Say I get the summary suspension thrown out on a hearing you still have to get that order through the secretary of state’s computer. If you wait for the clerk, it takes them three to four weeks. Say you had a suspension hearing, and we win the hearing, but you are only four days away from your suspension going into effect, and the clerk has the paperwork, and she was in court when the judge said, “I’m throwing this out”, but that paperwork never makes it down into the secretary of state. She has not put it into their computer yet for another two weeks, that whole time you are still driving with a suspended license even if the judge told you that you are still subject to forfeiture, and it is not a defense.
You are only supposed to be driving when you know your license is clear, so the burden is on you, not on anybody else. You need to make sure you give them the correct address, and you checked on the status of your license. It is not an excuse that you did not know. You asked before about vacating some of these and sealing these. We can go back and have vacated some convictions on a driving license suspended. Let us say someone did not show up in court, and they received a conviction, and they had insurance on the day in question, but it was not presented in court, because they did not show up. We can go back into court, vacate this conviction, show them you have insurance, and get the case dismissed. A good attorney will know how to do that, and it could be something where it was a suspension for not paying tickets.
Most of the times, if you can find out which tickets are keeping the suspension in effect, you have the client go and pay those. Not all the failure to appear is cleared; you go back into court and talk to the prosecutor into giving you court supervision, which is not a conviction, which will keep your license in good status. There are many little things that go into maintaining your license, but you have to stay on top of it, it is your responsibility.
Do You Deal With Driving While Suspended Cases In Wisconsin?
There are different rules for each state and unfortunately, there is a very tough Catch-22 between Illinois and Wisconsin. I represent people in both states I have been practicing law for thirty years in both states, but both states have very different rules. In Wisconsin, they do not have this court supervision aspect to the disposition of the case. If you plead to a suspended license, even if you get a $25 fine, it is going to wind up being a conviction sent to Illinois, even though in Illinois, you might have been treated as supervision, and it stays off your record. So, if a Wisconsin driver comes here, and gets a driving license suspended, and we get court supervision, then it does not go back up to Wisconsin as a conviction, because it is not a conviction in Wisconsin, that is the nature of court supervision.
This is like a hold open period, you have to pay a fine, do certain conditions, but after that, it is off as far as the conviction goes. It was never entered as a conviction. There are some very harsh penalties between the two. We happened to be right on the border between Illinois, and Wisconsin. If you are an Illinois driver and you get a Wisconsin DUI, you are so screwed. If you are a Wisconsin driver and you get your first DUI, it is no big deal. You come down here and get court supervision. In fact, in Wisconsin, a common mistake people make with a DUI, the first offense is not even a criminal offense, which down here in Illinois it is.
You do not have to come back to court. “I got rid of that pretty easy”, that is all good and fine until Wisconsin takes that little conviction, and sends it to Illinois and Illinois says, “Wait! You got a conviction on your first DUI, we don’t know why you didn’t get court supervision, but you didn’t”, and on a first conviction in Illinois, it is a mandatory one year revocation of all driving privileges with no breathalyzer machine, no breath lock device, and you are done. No hardship permit, you are just screwed. Therefore, there is a huge problem between the two states, because the revocation, like in Wisconsin with a DUI, they will give you an occupational permit on your first DUI.
Even with a revocation, you are going to get an occupational permit to go to work, school, or religious affiliations. Depending on the case, that may require an interlock or breath device in your car though. However, there is no supervision, so if you get any revoked ticket there it goes to Illinois.
Additional Information On Driving On A Suspended Or Revoked License
Many look at it as not that big of a deal, but if it comes down to a conviction on your record, and all of a sudden, you are revoked, it turns into a nightmare of gigantic proportion. Therefore, I cannot give any more advice than always try and maintain the status of your driver’s license if you know there is something wrong, fix it as soon as you can, and talk with someone who can help you fix it. Just because something is years old does not mean it cannot be fixed. I had a person that came in last week and he had a DUI, and a suspension from 2002. I went and got the entire thing vacated, and found him not guilty. However, if we had not followed through with that, and he tried to get a hearing with the secretary of state, he would have been in trouble. So, keep that license at all cost, because you do not realize how sacred it is and how important it is, because believe me, you cannot drive around without a license and not eventually get caught. It is very important to keep that.
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