It is a misdemeanor criminal offense in California to drive a motor vehicle with a suspended or revoked driver's license. This law is set forth in Vehicle Code Section 14601 and its subsections. To convict a person for driving on a suspended license, the prosecutor must prove only two things: 1) the person's license was suspended; and 2) the person knew that their license was suspended. If the person did not know that their driver's license was suspended or the suspension was invalid in the first place then they can defeat a driving on a suspended license charge.
The penalties for being convicted of Driving on a Suspended License depend on why the driver's license was suspended in the first place. A person's privilege to drive can be suspended for a number of different reasons, including: 1) a DUI conviction; 2) mental or physical condition that prevents them from driving safely; 3) being declared a habitual traffic offender, meaning too many DUI, reckless driving, or other two point violations, or at fault accidents, within a specified time period; or 4) being classified a "negligent operator," meaning too many points accumulated within a specified time period, e.g. four points within one year or six points within two years.
The most serious Driving on a Suspended License section is driving while your license is suspended for a DUI. Vehicle Code Section 14601.2 lists the penalties for conviction of this offense, which includes a minimum jail sentence of 10 days, maximum sentence of 180 days, a minimum fine of $300, on a first offense and an order that you install an Ignition Interlock Device in any vehicle that you drive. If the person has prior convictions within five years for Driving on a Suspended License, the penalties are tougher, including a minimum jail sentence of 30 days and a maximum sentence of up to one year.
If you have been charged with Driving on a Suspended License, CONTACT our office today for a free and confidential consultation. Do not assume that you are guilty and you have no options. There are a number of defenses available. Did you know that your license was suspended? Were you given official notice? Did you receive notice in the mail from DMV? Did a Judge or police officer serve you with official notice? If the answers to these questions are no, then the prosecutor will be unable to prove that you knew your license was suspended. As explained above, they must prove "knowledge" in order to convict you for Driving on a Suspended License. A good lawyer will also carefully examine why your license was suspended in the first place and confirm that it was for a valid reason.
Even if the license suspension was lawful and you received notice of the suspension, there may be actions that can be taken to mitigate the consequences. DUI Lawyer Robert D. Berglund has successfully negotiated favorable resolutions for hundreds of clients in this situation. If you can obtain a valid driver's license now, we can usually get the prosecutor to agree to reduce the charge even if it was lawfully suspended at the time you received the Driving on a Suspended License violation. For example, if you were cited for Vehicle Code Section 14601.2, your license was suspended because of a DUI, but you are now able to obtain a valid driver's license, we will attempt to negotiate your case to a reduced charge that does not carry a minimum jail sentence or the ignition interlock device requirement. CONTACT our office today and tell us what happened so that we can help.