Traffic Violation - Auto Ticket Defense
The thought must go through your mind: if I have to pay the fine anyway, isn’t hiring a lawyer simply going to make the financial inconvenience of a traffic ticket, only that much more expensive?
More often than not, experienced traffic defense counsel can help eliminate not just misdemeanors and higher-point offenses, but can often negotiate down offenses, so that nothing is reported either to the Michigan Secretary of State’s Office, which means it should not come to the attention of your insurance company.
This alone, will usually pay for legal representation many times over.
If you’re unsure of the math, consider the fact that most insurance rates will remain higher than normal for many years after the violation. It is a common misconception that traffic violations fall of your driving record. Points eventually drop over time, but insurance companies will always have record of the offense.
You may have already obtained your Michigan driving history; if you have, you may have found it nearly indecipherable. The Michigan Secretary of State anticipated this, and they have actually put out a guide to explain just how their reports should be interpreted. I am attaching a copy of their guide here.
Can a criminal history, going back far enough in time, be wiped out? Many times, folks lived life differently in the past, than they do now; the need to work, support a family, pursue educational opportunities, etc, require that a criminal history be “buried” as much as the law will allow. Can this be done?
Traditional Michigan Expungements
Yes and no. Under Michigan law, “expungement” merely makes a formerly public adult criminal conviction record, nonpublic. As far as the criminal justice system is concerned, you were still convicted of the crime; the only difference, is that after the conviction is “expunged”, it will not be visible to persons/entities outside the criminal justice system. Who does that include? Potential employers, educational institutions, and lawyers like me, who are not employed by Prosecutors’ offices. I am informed that Federal Immigration/Customs authorities will continue to have access to this information.
Expungements are governed by statute, specifically MCLA §780.621, which requires eligible persons to apply to the court where the conviction was entered. If the conviction was out-of-state, you must go there (if you are eligible for expungement at all, in that other state); if your conviction was in a Michigan court far away, you must go there.
Who is eligible?
- A person who has at least five years since the latest of the following
- Imposition of sentence;
- Completion of probation;
- Discharge from parole;
- Completion of any term of imprisonment
- A person convicted of no more than one felony, AND no more than 2 misdemeanors, can petition the convicting court to set aside the felony;
- A person with no more than two misdemeanor offenses, and no other felony offenses, may ask the convicting court to set aside one or both of the misdemeanor convictions;
- A person convicted of 4th degree criminal sexual conduct under MCLA §750.520e, provided that:
- The person who committed the offense is not older than 21 years of age;
- The conviction predated January 12, 2015;
- The person who committed the offense has not been convicted of another offense, other than two “minor offenses”, defined as
- Offenses with maximum imprisonment time not exceeding 90 days;
- The maximum fine is no more than $1,000.00
New “Clean Slate” Legislation
New legislation passed into law in Michigan, should start making the process of expungements easier, and in some cases, starting in April 2023, automatic. Specifically:
- Beginning in 2023, creating an automatic process for expunging eligible misdemeanors after seven years, and eligible non-assault felonies after 10 years;
- Expanding the number and revising the types of felonies and misdemeanors eligible to be set aside by application (effective April 2021);
- Revising the waiting periods before being eligible for expungement;
- Treating multiple felonies or misdemeanor offenses arising from the same transaction as a single felony or misdemeanor conviction, provided that the offenses happened within 24 hours of one another, and do not involve assault, possession/use of a dangerous weapon, or any other crime carry a penalty of 10 years or more in prison;
- Expanding the eligibility for expungement of various traffic offenses; paragraph on the person to petition to set aside one or more marijuana offenses if the offense would not have been a crime, if committed after the use of recreational marijuana by adults became legal in Michigan
Do you have questions regarding your eligibility for expungement of a past criminal offense? Give Jon Frank a call at (586) 727-1900, or email at email@example.com
Frequently Asked Questions. Honest Answers.
Most commonly, traffic tickets are negotiated out with a City Attorney or County Prosecutor. You will need some idea what can and cannot be negotiated in or out of your traffic matter. Experienced representation gives you the legal edge you may need to defend your traffic violation. That doesn’t mean you can’t represent yourself, but honestly, how much trust would you put in yourself when it comes to as task where you have zero experience.
The City Attorneys/Prosecutors handling traffic ticket prosecutions are, for the most part, dedicated professionals who are not given nearly the resources they need to do their jobs. In short, these mostly overworked professionals do not take well to the personal involvement that comes with someone representing themselves on a traffic ticket.
Attorneys themselves know that they will likely do better, if they have an attorney representing them. Many have told me of their own frustrations, trying to negotiate away their own traffic violations, in front of the same individual City Attorneys/Prosecutors, with whom they are able to negotiate routinely, on behalf of their clients.
Plenty. Here are just a few items:
1. Skyrocketing auto insurance costs.
2. Skyrocketing auto insurance costs.
4. Your Future Driving Record – Even if You Move Out-of-State/Canada.
5. Employment Requiring Clean Driving Record.
6. Secretary of State’s “Driver Responsibility Fees”; and
7. (did I mention) Skyrocketing auto insurance costs.
Just like individuals, local city, county and state governments have experienced tight budgets, with the recent downturn in the economy. And, just as individuals need to bring in additional revenues to make ends meet, so too, do local governments need to bring in cash to meet their needs.
Police officers involved in traffic enforcement functions perform important duties in keeping the public safe. Sadly, they are often seen and treated by their employers as mobile “profit centers”, who are expected not just to keep the public safe, and to prevent crime, but also to generate money for the city, county and state government agencies they work for.
Unfortunately, the traffic citation that seems like a minor inconvenience today, may result in your auto insurance costs skyrocketing, that is, if your existing insurer will continue to provide you coverage. Indeed, your insurance may become so expensive that you have to drop your auto insurance coverage, to make it affordable, creating a host of potentially bigger problems.
Unlike sporting events, where the team with the most points wins, “points” are not good, when it comes to your driving record.
Michigan’s penalty driving “points” scheme is set up in a Michigan statute, MCLA 257.320a. Just click on the statute number, or here, and you will be taken right to the original statute, imposing points, for various violations, effective January 5, 2018.
To make it simpler, I have put the statute in what I think is a more readable chart form. Click here for the “point chart” effective January 5, 2018.