If you drive while your license is suspended, you could be charged with a crime that carries a mandatory term of imprisonment. The best way to fight charges of driving on a suspended license is to hire an experienced criminal defense attorney to handle your case.
Ambrosio E. Rodriguez is a former prosecutor who understands the best approach to a successful defense. Contact his office to schedule a free consultation and to learn about how he can help you achieve the best possible outcome in your case.
Driving on a Suspended License Laws
Under California Vehicle Code 14601, it is a crime to operate a motor vehicle when you know that your driving privileges have been suspended or revoked by the state. Several circumstances can result in the revocation or suspension of driving privileges, including convictions for:
- reckless or negligent driving,
- driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol, and
- refusing to submit to a chemical test and other DUI-related offenses.
The California Vehicle Code also makes it a crime to operate a vehicle when your license has been suspended because of:
- Alcohol and/or drug addiction, or
- Physical and/or mental condition that makes it unsafe to operate a vehicle.
Regardless, any conviction for driving on a suspended license will require that you knew that your license had been suspended or revoked.
- The California DMV mailed a notice with the appropriate information to your most recent address on file with the department and that notice was not returned to the DMV as undeliverable or unclaimed;
- A law enforcement or peace officer personally served notice of the suspension or revocation and confiscated your license when you were arrested for a DUI or other driving offense; or
- A judge personally informed you in court at a sentencing hearing.
The presumption that you had knowledge will exist if the DMV, law enforcement officer, or judge followed the appropriate legal guidelines to notify you of the suspension. The fact that you did not have actual knowledge can be irrelevant. Hiring a skilled attorney to handle your case is the best way to rebut this presumption.
Penalties for Driving on a Suspended License in California
Driving on a suspended license in California is a misdemeanor offense. However, the severity of the penalties you face will depend on:
- the reason why your license was suspended or revoked,
- the facts and circumstances of your specific case, and
- your existing driving record.
The reason why your license was suspended will determine which specific California Vehicle Code Section you will be charged with violating. Each Vehicle Code section carries its own distinct sentencing guidelines.
Under California Vehicle Code Section 14601 VC, it is a crime to:
- knowingly drive when your license has been suspended because of a conviction for specific offenses including
- reckless driving,
- alcohol and/or drug addiction, and
- negligent operation of a vehicle.
A conviction for 14601 VC is punishable by no less than 5 days and no more than 6 months in jail.
Under California Vehicle Code Section 14601.1 VC, it is a crime to:
- knowingly drive when your license has been suspended or revoked for reasons not specifically mentioned in the statute.
- A conviction for 14601.1 is punishable by up to 6 months in jail.
Under California Vehicle Code Section 14601.2 VC, it is a crime to:
- knowingly drive when your license has been suspended or revoked because of a conviction for driving under the influence drugs or alcohol or other DUI-related offenses.
- A conviction for 14601.2 is punishable by no less than 10 days and no more than 5 months in jail.
Under California Vehicle Code Section 14601.3 VC, it is a crime to:
- accumulate traffic offenses while knowingly driving on a suspended license.
- A conviction for 14601.3 will result in your being labeled as a habitual traffic offender and is punishable by no less than 30 days in jail.
Under California Vehicle Code Section 14601.5 VC, it is a crime to:
- knowingly drive when your license has been suspended or revoked because you refused to submit to chemical testing to determine your blood alcohol level after a traffic stop.
- A conviction for 14601.5 is punishable by up to 6 months in prison.
In addition to jail time, you may also be required to pay monetary fines of between $300 and $1,000 for driving on a suspended license in California. Multiple violations can result in:
- Aggravated fines,
- Lengthier terms of imprisonment, and/or
- The permanent loss of driving privileges.
Defenses to Driving on a Suspended License
Just because you have been accused of driving on a suspended license does not automatically mean that you will be charged or convicted of a crime. There are certain defenses that can be raised to contest any allegations of criminal wrongdoing. Defenses to driving on a suspended license in California can include:
Lack of Knowledge
The prosecutor handling your case must show that you had knowledge that your license had been suspended or revoked. Generally, you will be presumed to have this knowledge if the DMV, law enforcement, or court took the appropriate legal steps to notify you of the suspension. Your attorney can argue that the methods used to notify you were:
- insufficient, or
For example, your attorney may argue that while the DMV may have mailed you a notice of your suspension, they failed to mail it to your most recent address. If you had no knowledge of the suspension you cannot be found guilty of this crime.
Invalid Suspension or Revocation
The basis for your underlying suspension must be legal. Your criminal lawyer will investigate the circumstances that resulted in the initial suspension or revocation to determine if it was, in fact, legal. If your license was:
- Suspended without cause, or
- If the suspension is based on evidence that was gathered in violation of your legal rights,
Your attorney can petition the court to have the underlying suspension dismissed.
Driving on a Restricted License
In some cases, your license may have only been partially suspended. In California, a court may determine that limiting your driving privileges – rather than suspending them in full – is in your best interest.
Restricted driving privileges generally allow you to drive to and from specified locations for:
- Education, or
- Court-ordered programs.
You cannot be charged with driving on a suspended license if you were driving on a restricted license within the terms and conditions of those restrictions.
Violations of Constitutional Rights
You have the right to remain free from unlawful searches, seizures, and arrests. If your Constitutional rights are violated, any evidence obtained as a result of those violations may be inadmissible in court. Your attorney will investigate the circumstances that led to your arrest and determine if your rights were violated. If he believes your rights have been infringed he will petition the court to have any illegally-obtained evidence thrown out.
Los Angeles Driving on a Suspended License Attorney
Have you been arrested for driving on a suspended or revoked license in Los Angeles? Just because you have been arrested for a crime does not mean that you will be charged and/or convicted. Hiring an experienced lawyer to handle your case is the best way to limit any potential negative consequences you may face.
Attorney Ambrosio E. Rodriguez is a former prosecutor with almost 20 years experience. He understands the seriousness of criminal charges and the consequences a conviction can have in your life. Mr. Rodriguez will defend you and fight to achieve the best possible outcome in your case. Contact his office today to schedule a free consultation.