Driving on a Suspended License

Driving with a suspended license is a criminal charge that almost anyone could face with just a little bad luck. You can be pulled over and arrested even if you didn’t know that your driver’s license was under suspension! That’s right, the DMVs often make little to no effort to notify you of a license suspension. Even if they do contact you by mail, if you moved recently and hadn’t updated your address, you may never have found out.

For many people, the first time they become aware of their suspended license is when they are pulled over by the police.

And unfortunately, not knowing about a suspension is not even a legitimate legal defense, by itself!

Reasons your license may be suspended include:

  • Too many traffic tickets in a certain timeframe
  • habitual traffic offender
  • DUI
  • Other minor criminal driving offenses, like reckless driving, leaving the scene of an accident
  • Other criminal charges, like drug possession
  • Other court imposed penalties

Operating a vehicle is something that we all take for granted. Most people would have a difficult time managing their lives if unable to drive their cars.

Penalties for Driving on a Suspended License

In most states, driving on a suspended license is a misdemeanor criminal offense. Misdemeanors are punishable by a maximum of up to 1 year in jail.

In addition, if convicted, you’ll face a number of fines, fees, addition surcharges on your auto insurance, and possibly additional time for your license suspension.

You are also looking at what could be a criminal conviction and a permanent criminal record.

These are things to be avoided, if at all possible. No one wants to be branded as a convicted criminal. But an experienced defense attorney may be able to come up with options to fight your case, and avoid this mark on your criminal history.

Fighting your Driving on Suspended Criminal Charge

There are always legal defenses in any criminal case, and a operating on a suspended license case is no execption.

Even if not knowing your license is suspended is technically not a defense, we can still argue these facts in front of a judge. It may be possible to convince him or her that this was an honest mistake, and the consequences are a significant hardship.

Negotiating a deal for a non-criminal (civil) traffic offense outcome with  a fine is often a good deal. Keeping your license, or getting it back as quickly as possible, and keeping your record clean is the goal here.

Please speak to an experienced attorney who has defended criminal traffic cases before, and understands the licensing and suspension laws in your state.

Driving on a Revoked License

Driving on a revoked license is a more serious criminal offense than operating on a suspended license. The circumstances that lead to your license being revoked are more serious that a typical suspension.

States revoke driver’s licenses after multiple offense DUI convictions, other serious criminal traffic charges such as hit and run with serious injury, vehicular manslaughter, or even multiple suspensions after speeding tickets or moving violations.

Suspended License vs. Revoked License

In most states, a suspended license will be automatically be reinstated after the suspension period is over. Of course you can still fight the suspension if you don’t think it was fair.

A revoked license is a license that is no longer valid. If you are able to get your license back after a revoked license, you may have to start from scratch with a full driver’s license testing period, driver’s education programs, or an administrative hearing. It depends greatly on the rules of your state and the reason your license was revoked.

Getting Your License Back

Fixing a criminal charge is just part of the problem. To get your license restored, you may still face administrative suspension issues from the DMV. And it isn’t always a sure thing that they will go along with the outcome of the criminal courts.

Most state DMVs have their own administrative procedures for hearings to contest or challenge license suspensions, or argue for a reinstatement after a  license revocation. These are not strictly legal hearings, but having a lawyer argue your case can be a huge help in some circumstances.