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Driving With A Suspended License

One way to adhere to state driving laws is to possess a driver's license. Your license demonstrates your ability to drive safely on public highways. The DMV can suspend or revoke your driver's license for several reasons, including breaking traffic laws like speeding. When that occurs, you must only drive after the revocation or suspension term when you reinstate your license. Driving while having your driver’s license suspended is a serious offense that carries a steep fine and possible jail time. If you are found guilty, you will have a criminal record, which can impact you even after serving your term.

If you face accusations of driving in Palm Desert while your license is suspended, it helps to work with a skilled criminal defense lawyer. At Desert Defense Lawyers, we could represent you and guide you through the complicated legal process. Our tenacious lawyers can compel the judge to drop or downgrade your charges.

Legal Definition of Driving with a Suspended License

VC 14601.1(a) prohibits using a suspended driver's license. It makes it illegal for anyone to knowingly drive while their license has been suspended by the DMV. In most cases, the crime is a misdemeanor with a maximum jail sentence of six months. However, the severity of your punishments will primarily depend on the facts of your case. You can better comprehend the nature of your charges and your choices with the assistance of a qualified criminal defense lawyer. They could also prepare a strong defense against your accusations to prevent a conviction and the dire repercussions that would follow.

A conviction for operating a vehicle after your license is suspended is not guaranteed. You must go through a trial when the prosecutor presents evidence to back up the accusations. You can also offer evidence and arguments to refute the prosecutor's claims. For the court to declare you guilty of this crime, the prosecution must establish each of the following components beyond a reasonable doubt:

  • You drove a car despite the DMV having already revoked your license.
  • You knew your driver's license was invalid when you did it.

Note: According to this law, the judge cannot find you guilty unless you know the license is suspended. You can only face charges under this statute if you have this knowledge. If any of these are true, you are assumed to be aware of your license suspension:

  • You received mail from the DMV informing you that your license has been revoked.
  • The mail was delivered to your current address by the department.
  • The notification was not reported as unclaimed or undelivered to the department.

Reasons for Driver License Suspension

The DMV can suspend a driver's license for a variety of reasons. To keep your license active, it helps to be aware of the most prevalent of these causes and how to avoid them.

License Suspension After a DUI Violation

Most DUI convictions result in a driver's license suspension or revocation for the offender. DUI convictions that will probably result in license suspension or revocation include the following:

  • A violation of VC 23152(a) for driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
  • Inflicting harm while driving while intoxicated, a violation of VC 23153.
  • Driving while under drugs influence.
  • Driving with a blood alcohol level above the legal limit against Vehicle Code 23152(b).

License Revocation For Habitual Traffic Offenders

A person with three or more driving convictions is considered a habitual traffic offender. Within a year after committing the third or subsequent traffic infraction, the DMV can suspend your license if it deems you a habitual offender. DUI, speeding, and reckless driving are just a few examples of traffic offenses that can turn you into a habitual offender. You could also be classified as a habitual offender if you participated in at least three accidents that caused significant injuries or property damage worth more than $750. More driving offenses committed when a driver's license is suspended are under VC 14601.3.

Penalties for Violating VC 14601.1(a)

Operating a vehicle with a suspended license is generally a misdemeanor offense. If you are guilty under this statute, the specific punishments you will likely incur depend on why the DMV initially suspended your license. The most typical situations and their likely penalties are listed below:

License Revocation for Being a Negligent, Reckless, or Incompetent Driver

The DMV can suspend your driver's license if you drive carelessly, recklessly, or incompetently. You can only drive a car once the department restores your license. If you resume driving after having your driver’s license suspended for the cause mentioned above, you will probably face the following consequences under VC 14601.1(a):

  • Misdemeanor probation for a maximum of three years.
  • Between five days and six months in jail.
  • A maximum court fine of $1,000.

Remember that the judge's decision regarding your punishments during sentencing is final. They typically base their decision on your crimes' seriousness and criminal record.

License Suspension for Driving While Intoxicated

To keep everyone safe, drivers must drive soberly and with extreme caution. Driving while intoxicated is a serious infraction that carries harsh punishments, including the suspension of your license by the DMV. Following a DUI conviction, the DMV will suspend your license, and you can only drive if the department restores it. The following sanctions are likely to be imposed on you if you drive while your license is suspended as a result of a DUI conviction:

  • A maximum of three years on misdemeanor probation.
  • Between ten days and six months in jail.
  • A maximum court fine of $1,000, or.
  • Mandatory installation of an IID system in every car you will likely drive.

License Suspension for Habitual Traffic Offenders

The DMV can temporarily or permanently suspend your driver's license if you have a history of traffic violations. Remember that you are designated as a habitual traffic offender if you cause accidents that result in injuries or property damage or break three or more traffic regulations. As a habitual traffic offender, you can face the following penalties for driving while your license is suspended:

  • A maximum of three years on misdemeanor probation.
  • Thirty days in jail.
  • A maximum court fine of $1,000.

License Suspension for Failing To Submit to Chemical Testing or Driving with an Illegal BAC Limit

You must submit to a chemical test to ascertain your BAC level after an arrest for DUI. You risk incurring additional charges if you fail to submit to chemical testing, and the DMV can suspend your driver's license. The DMV can revoke your driving privileges if your BAC exceeds the legal limit. If you continue to drive with a suspended license after it has been canceled for one of these two reasons, you will probably be guilty and face the following punishments:

  • A maximum of three years on misdemeanor probation.
  • A maximum of six months in jail.
  • A maximum court fine of $1,000.

License Suspension for Other Reasons

If the court finds you guilty of driving while your license is suspended by the DMV for any other reason, you can be subject to the following sanctions:

  • Misdemeanor probation for three years.
  • Six months in jail.
  • A fine of not exceeding $1,000.

Misdemeanor Probation

Misdemeanor convictions typically do not result in jail time. The court can permit you to complete your sentence on probation rather than in jail. Probation for misdemeanors can last up to three years. You will be under the court's watchful eye during that period. The judge will require you to update the court on your progress regularly. You will also be given probationary rules by the judge, which you must follow during probation. Examples are:

  • While on probation, refraining from criminal activity and avoiding arrest for any infraction.
  • Delivering periodic progress reports to the court.
  • Remaining under the court's jurisdiction at least until the conclusion of your probation.
  • Accepting random alcohol and drug testing.
  • Treatment for an underlying condition, like a drug or alcohol problem.
  • Doing community service.

Any probationary requirements imposed by the judge during sentencing must be followed. The judge can order your rearrest if you violate your probation. They will set up a hearing to assess your probation violation's cause and next steps. The judge can decide any of the following after that hearing:

  • Continue probation but with stricter probation requirements and a warning against future violations.
  • The exact probationary requirements are maintained, but you are given a solid warning to refrain from breaking them again.
  • You will be taken off probation and jailed for the required time under the law.

Defending Your Charges Under VC 14601.1(a)

A criminal conviction for operating a vehicle while your license is revoked is significant. In addition to the inevitable punishments you will receive following a sentence, you are left with a criminal record that can significantly affect your life. For example, some firms can reject your application if you have a criminal history. It is crucial to defend yourself at trial to escape a conviction and its repercussions. You can do so with the aid of an accomplished criminal defense lawyer. Fortunately, criminal defense lawyers have a variety of methods at their disposal for these situations. Examples include:

You Were Unaware of the Suspension

When the DMV suspends a driver's license, they must send the motorist a letter explaining the suspension, its cause, and how long it will last. Since the DMV uses mailing addresses to send notifications like these, drivers must update their records with the agency to include the most recent mailing address. It is possible you were unaware that the DMV had suspended your license. Numerous issues could have occurred when mailing the notification, including the likelihood that the DMV delivered the notice to the wrong address.

You are not guilty of operating a vehicle with a suspended license if you were unaware of the suspension. However, the judge will only drop your charges if your attorney can prove your ignorance. For example, providing your current address will demonstrate that the DMV delivered the notice to your old address or someone else's and not your current address.

Your License is Not Suspended

The DMV does not arbitrarily suspend driver's licenses. To suspend or revoke a driver's license, the agency requires a good cause. This defense tactic is available to your attorney if:

  • You have not violated any driving or traffic law that could result in license suspension,
  • But you are arrested for driving after license suspension.

When making arrests, the police sometimes make mistakes. If you disregard a traffic sign and the police pulled you over for questioning, they could have mistakenly thought your license was suspended.

The prosecutor will not be able to establish beyond a reasonable doubt that your license was suspended if it was not. The judge will drop your charges in that situation.

It Was a Crime of Necessity

If you break the law for a reasonable purpose, you can use this legal defense tactic to your advantage. For example, if nobody else was around and you needed to drive someone to the emergency room. Or you were in immediate danger, and driving off was the only way to stay safe. Your defense attorney must persuade the jury that you had a compelling motive for driving while your license was suspended.

Your License Was Reinstated

The DMV typically temporarily suspends driver's licenses. The department will only entirely suspend a driver's license in extreme cases. Depending on the underlying charge, a driver's license can be suspended for a few months, a year, or even years. The driver will need to apply for a new license after the suspension term is up to resume driving.

If you recently had your license renewed and the information the police used during the arrest was outdated, you can use this as a defense. The judge will drop your charges if you present your new license as evidence to the court.

Expungement of a Conviction Record

Even after you have served your term for driving while your license is suspended, having a criminal record will still affect your life. For example, it can hinder your job search efforts or result in you losing your job, family, or friends. It is critical to consider expungement and how it can help you once you have served your sentence. Your knowledgeable criminal defense lawyer can assist you in understanding the process of expungement, its advantages, and even how to submit a successful petition to the court.

You can expunge a conviction from your record by following the proper legal procedures. It removes all limitations and adverse consequences of a criminal conviction. Unless you tell, no one will ever know if you were ever guilty of operating a vehicle while your license was suspended. But to be qualified, you must fulfill specific requirements:

  • You must finish your probationary period or serve your jail time for the crime for which you were convicted.
  • You cannot be on parole or serving time for another crime.

Your lawyer will submit a petition in the same court where the conviction occurred, provided you meet the requirements. Before a hearing, the judge will examine your plea and case. Judges are entirely free to make these decisions. So, the judge has the authority to approve or reject your petition. Your chances of winning increase if you work closely with a knowledgeable attorney.

VC 14601.1(a) and Related Crimes

Here are some crimes that are closely related to VC 14601.1(a) under California law:

Driving Without a Driver’s License

VC 12500(a) prohibits operating a vehicle without a valid driver's license. Anyone caught driving a car without a valid license, including motorists from other states, is subject to this law. California accepts permits from other states and countries as long as they are valid for the type of vehicle the driver is operating.

Operating a car without a driver’s license is a wobbler, which means the prosecutor can file an infraction or misdemeanor case against you. You could face a six-month jail sentence if you are guilty of a misdemeanor and a $250 fine if you are guilty of an infraction.

Failing to Present Your Driver’s License

Anyone who refuses to present their driver's license to law enforcement upon request violates California Vehicle Code 12951. Driving without a valid driver's license is an infraction under this law, and refusing to show your license to the authorities when requested is a misdemeanor.

Find a Competent Criminal Defense Attorney Near Me

Are you or a loved one in Palm Desert facing prosecution for driving with a suspended license?

Knowing the significance and implications of your charges from a legal perspective is beneficial. After your arrest, a knowledgeable criminal defense lawyer can also assist you in navigating the convoluted legal system. Because we handle all types of driving offenses, we can be your best option at Desert Defense Lawyers. Our capable and knowledgeable lawyers are constantly prepared to take on your case and develop a strong defense against your accusations. We can fight to provide the best result for your case while defending your rights and outlining your alternatives. Call us at 888-293-0396 so we can examine your case and develop the finest defense strategy.

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  • Drunk in Public
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