Driving is a privilege in Michigan and anyone who operates a motor vehicle with either a suspended license, revoked license or even no license is subject to criminal penalties. The Motor Vehicle Code goes a step further and makes it illegal for an owner to permit someone with a suspended, revoked or no license to use his or her motor vehicle, even if they are not personally present when the driver is pulled over. Violating these laws can lead to fines or even imprisonment.
A person is guilty of allowing another individual to drive their motor vehicle while that individual’s license is suspended or revoked, contrary to MCL 257.904(2), if the prosecutor can prove all of the following elements beyond a reasonable doubt:
- The person allowed or permitted the other individual to operate the motor vehicle.
- The other individual was operating a motor vehicle, meaning he or she was driving or had actual physical control of it.
- The other individual was operating that vehicle on a highway or other place open to the general public.
- The person knew at the time of allowing or permitting the other individual to use the vehicle that his or her operator’s license was suspended or revoked.
If a person is convicted of allowing another individual to drive his or her vehicle while license suspended or revoked in Michigan, he or she is subject to the following consequences:
- For a first offense, a person is guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by up to 93 days in jail or a fine up to $500.00, or both. Additionally, vehicle registration plates will be cancelled unless the vehicle was stolen or it was used with the permission of a person who did not knowingly permit an unlicensed driver to operate the vehicle.
- For a second or subsequent offense, a person is guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail or a fine up to $1,000.00, or both. Additionally, vehicle registration plates will be cancelled unless the vehicle was stolen.
- If the driver causes the serious impairment of a body function of another individual, the owner is guilty of felony punishable by up to 2 years in prison or a fine between $1000.00 and $5000.00, or both. MCL 257.904(7).
- If the driver causes the death of another individual, the owner is guilty of a felony punishable by up to 5 years in prison or a fine between $1,000.00 and $5,000.00, or both. MCL 257.904(7).
There are no licensing sanctions or points associated with this offense.
The prosecutor has significant challenges in securing a conviction under this statute. With a skilled criminal defense lawyer in their corner, the accused can assert all of the defenses available at law:
- NO OWNERSHIP: The prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused is the registered owner of the vehicle. If the accused is merely using a vehicle belonging to someone else but allows an unlicensed driver to use it, then he or she cannot be convicted of this offense.
- NO PERMISSION: The prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused allowed or permitted an unlicensed driver to use the vehicle. If the unlicensed driver stole the vehicle or took the keys to operate it without permission (or the knowledge of the owner), then the accused cannot be convicted of this offense. Permission may also be negated if the accused had reported the vehicle stolen before police contact or inquired to other individuals where the vehicle was.
- NO KNOWLEDGE: The prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused had knowledge that the driver’s license was suspended, revoked or not issued. This is the hardest issue for the prosecutor to prove. Unless the accused made some kind of admission that he knew that the driver was not properly licensed, he or she is well advised to maintain his silence and leave the prosecutor to only speculate. In fact, most prosecutors will not even authorize this charge absent some kind of admission from the defendant that he or she had knowledge. Always exercise your right to remain silent!
A good lawyer in your corner can tell you what you should and should not do to maximize your outcome. Don’t let a criminal conviction destroy your life! If you or a loved one is charged with any traffic offense and need legal representation, then do not hesitate to contact the experienced attorneys at Kershaw, Vititoe & Jedinak PLC for assistance today.