New Driver’s License Before OWI Court Case – Frequently Asked Questions

Long delays can occur between the issuance of an Operating While Intoxicated (OWI) ticket or arrest and the actual prosecution of the matter in court. Delays can result from delayed test results or various other reasons. It might be possible to get your driver’s license back in the meantime.

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“Why can OWI charges get delayed for several months?”

It is not uncommon for OWI or DUI charges in Michigan to get delayed for months before the case “goes to court.” The most common reason for a long delay is the extensive time it takes for the Michigan State Police laboratory to process alcohol or drug blood samples. In cases with breath tests, long delays can occur due to backups in court, the need for follow-up investigation, or administrative errors.

“How long can they wait to bring an OWI charge to court?”

Technically, the government has 6 years to bring an OWI charge in Michigan. The limitation on how long the government can wait before filing charges is commonly referred to as the Statute of Limitations. Federal and state constitutional law likely requires that charges be brought to court long before the 6-year statute of limitations. Because “speedy trial rights” are not available until the charge is filed in court, a defendant can challenge a long delay between arrest and prosecution based on Due Process grounds. A person’s due process rights require fundamental fairness. Suppose an unreasonable delay makes it more difficult for an individual to defend themselves in court due to spoiled evidence, lost witnesses, or other similar reasons. In that case, a savvy, experienced defense lawyer can seek dismissal of the charges or suppression of evidence.

“If the police took my driver’s license, can I get it back if OWI charges are delayed?”

Once a person is ticked or arrested for OWI or a similar charge, the government has 90 days to prosecute the case before the driver can apply for a new driver’s license. Under MCL 750.625g, if the case is not prosecuted for 90 days, the prosecuting attorney or law enforcement agency shall notify the Secretary of State if a case has not yet been filed in court. After the notification is given to the Michigan Department of State, the driver can request a new driver’s license. Unfortunately, the prosecutor and law enforcement agency are unlikely to send the notice without being prompted to do so by an experienced, persuasive defense lawyer. 

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“Is there an advantage to hiring a defense lawyer early or waiting until the charge is filed in court?”

There are many advantages to hiring an experienced OWI defense lawyer as early as possible. If your case has not yet gone to court, hiring a lawyer immediately can help turn the tables in your favor. A seasoned lawyer with experience defending OWI charges in court will be able to:

  • help their client avoid arrest, 
  • take proactive measures to mitigate charges and any future sentence, 
  • collect and preserve evidence that will be favorable for the client’s defense, 
  • help the client get any needed help or a substance or alcohol evaluation,
  • advise the client regarding concerns about their driver’s license or their charges, and
  • assist and counsel clients who might face employment, professional licensing, immigration, or custody issues.

Individuals who allegedly refuse a breath or blood test during an OWI investigatory stop are typically charged with Refusing a Chemical Test. By driving in Michigan, a vehicle’s operator legally implies that they will consent to a chemical test if requested by a law enforcement officer who reasonably suspects that a driver is operating under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Refusing a chemical test under these circumstances may result in a one-year suspension called an “Implied Consent Suspension.” 

In many cases, a defense lawyer can negotiate with the prosecutor to resolve the case and persuade the arresting officer not to show up at an Implied Consent Suspension Hearing. If the driver contests the implied consent suspension and the officer fails to appear, the suspension is dismissed. In those cases where there is a long delay before charges get to court, there might not be a prosecutor available for negotiations or who can intervene. In these situations, it takes a highly skilled and qualified OWI defense lawyer to know the best steps to avoid the license suspension, if possible.

If your license is suspended due to an implied consent violation, you can seek a restricted driver’s license, called a “hardship license,” if you act quickly. The Hardship Petition must be filed within specific time limits and in the circuit court for the county where the arrest occurred.

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Attorneys who Can Help when OWI Charges are Delayed

The defense lawyers with LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C. have decades of experience helping thousands of clients with pending OWI charges in courts throughout Michigan. In countless cases, we’ve been able to give clients advice and direction, which has resulted in preventing criminal charges, avoiding jail, reduced and dismissed charges, and life-changing help when the client has a substance or alcohol-related health issue. If you call us for a free consultation, we will take the time to talk with you, answer your questions, and address each of your concerns. We will find a way to help you.

Call us today at (248) 263-6800 for a free consultation or complete an online Request for Assistance Form. We will contact you promptly and find a way to help you.

We will find a way to help you and, most importantly,
we are not afraid to win!

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