Driving on Suspended License Attorney
California Traffic Ticket Defense Lawyer
Summary: Driving on Suspended License
Driving on a suspended license is a misdemeanor offense with possible penalties of jail, fines and license points. The prosecutor must establish that you knew your license was suspended and that you were driving.
In California, your driver's license can be suspended for a number of reasons including:
- Drunk Driving (DUI)
- Missing a Court Date (Failure to Appear)
- Bench Warrant
- Medical Reasons
- Drug Possession
- Too Many Tickets or Points
- Failure to Pay Child Support
Basic Elements of California Vehicle Code 14601 et seq.
Driving on suspended/revoked license is strictly prohibited according to California Vehicle Code 14601 California Vehicle Code § 14601 and its related sections. Driving on a Suspended Driver’s License (DSDL) is a misdemeanor criminal charge, subjecting you to substantial fines and possible county jail time.
Each of the vehicle code violations pertains to the same nature of offense - driving on a suspended license in California. It is your responsibility to be aware of the status of license and you can be convicted of these charges only if the prosecution is able to prove that you were driving with clear knowledge about your status of suspended license. This key difference between vehicle code 12500 that prohibits from driving without a valid license and vehicle code 14601 is the knowledge about the status of license.
When Can Your Driver’s License Be Suspended?
A comprehensive list of offenses are detailed in California Vehicle Code Sections 13100-13376 that may lead to the revocation of your driver’s license. The privilege to drive a vehicle can be suspended by the DMV according to the California vehicle code 14601.
Privilege Suspended or Revoked For Specific Offenses
According to California Vehicle Code Section 14601(a) you must not drive a vehicle with a suspended or revoked driver’s license in California. The driving privilege can be taken away by the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) due to:
- Alcohol or drug abuse;
- Reckless driving;
- Being declared a negligent driver; or
- Physical/mental disability that is a barrier for safe driving.
When the DMV notifies you about the revocation or suspension of the driving license, quick action is necessary to solve the issue and you have to request a hearing within ten days.
Privilege Suspended or Revoked For General Offenses
It is illegal to drive a vehicle with knowledge that the DMV has suspended or revoked your license. Vehicle Code (VC) Section 14601.1 (a) point out that it is clear violation of the rules through general offenses.
Privilege Suspended or Revoked For DUI
According to California Vehicle Code 14601.2(a)California Vehicle Code § 14601.2(a) CVC, it is a serious offense to drive when your license was suspended or revoked because of a “driving under the influence (DUI)” conviction. The DMV can suspend or revoke the license due to DUI violations and related offenses that include refusal to take a breathalyzer test.
This is a serious violation of vehicle code 14601 and may award a minimum ten day county jail sentence for the first offense and for the second offense it carries a minimum thirty day county jail sentence.
Habitual Traffic Offenders
You can be titled as a habitual traffic offender if you were involved or convicted in any offenses given below:
- General violation of traffic rules like over speed or
- Violation of vehicle code 23103 (reckless driving), 23152 (driving under the influence), 23109 (exhibition of speed). If two or more such rules are violated, it is considered as habitual traffic offense.
- Accident cases where property damage or injury reported that total up to $750 loss.
The habitual traffic offenses are detailed under the California vehicle code 14601.3 (a) VC and it strictly prohibits a person from habitually driving on a revoked or suspended license.
General Reasons For Suspension or Revocation of License
Your license can be revoked or suspended due to certain general offenses including:
- Refusing to submit to chemical test (urine, blood or breath) when suspected of Driving Under the Influence
- If you are on a probation for California DUI, driving with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.01% or greater
There are several other general issues and the California vehicle code 14601.5 (a) vc considers it a crime to drive in California with a license suspended or revoked due to the above factors.
Once a person’s privilege to drive is suspended or revoked, it is treated as an additional criminal offense to drive with a suspended or revoked driver’s license and is criminal misdemeanor in California. The potential consequences of being caught for DSDL are really alarming even if you are aware of the status of license or not.
Facts Prosecution Must Prove to Convict You
The prosecutor must prove two elements (or facts) in order to convict you of driving on a suspended license.
- You drove the vehicle while your driving privilege was revoked or suspended
- You were aware of the suspension or revocation of the license at the time
The prosecution must prove that you had full knowledge about the status of your license and it can be shown by:
- California DMV mailed a notice to you about the suspension or revocation of the license
- Notice was sent to the right and most recent address, it was not returned to the DMV as unclaimed or undeliverable.
- A judge ordered in open court a suspension
- Law enforcement took your license on a previous ticket
Penalties for Driving on a Suspended License
Driving on a suspended or revoked license is a misdemeanor offense and penalties depend on "why" the license was suspended. Your driving record and prior convictions for driving with a suspended license can also determine the nature and depth of punishment. If the offense is not related to DUI, sentencing includes:
First time conviction
For the first offense, a minimum fine of $300 and maximum fine of $1,000 can be charged, plus penalty assessments and/or imprisonment for five days to six months.
For the next offense within five years, the penalty ranges from $500 to $2,000 plus jail time of ten days to one year.
But if the license was suspended or revoked due to a DUI offense, the penalties are harsher and with a second offense, the penalty reaches up to $ 2,000 and a minimum of thirty days in a county jail to one year at the maximum.
Defenses for Driving on a Suspended License
The law can only punish you if you have full knowledge about the suspension or revocation of the license. You can defend the charge if:
- You were unaware of the state of license as the DMV may have failed to mail the notice
- The license was not actually suspended or revoked, your name might have erroneously appeared in the list
- If you are mistakenly identified
- You can justify driving in an emergency situation