Vista Criminal Attorney is a criminal defense law firm in Vista, California. We represent clients in and around Vista and North County, within the State of California. In the following sections, we will look at the law barring driving on a suspended license in details, but first;

 What is a Suspended Driving License?

A suspended driving license bars the driver from their driving privileges for a short period until they fulfill specific conditions. This suspension is not permanent and only means that the driving license is out of service. There are two categories of suspended driving licenses; a definitely suspended driving license and an indefinitely suspended driving license. Definite suspensions have clear dates when the suspension comes to an end while indefinite suspensions call for the driver whose license has been suspended to meet some legal requirements such as child support. An administrative review could also lead to an indefinite license suspension on impaired health grounds.

What is a Revoked Driving License?

A license revocation implies that your driving license has been canceled completely, and you would need to undertake the process of getting a driving license over again. You need to get consent from the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), clear any outstanding driver civil obligations, and sit for a written and practical exam.

Traffic crimes that could lead to a revocation of the driving license include; uttering false information while applying for a driving license or filling DMV registration forms, declaration of guilt due to a serious traffic offense, unsuccessful DMV road tests and driving without requisite insurance cover. A series of traffic points on your driving record and mental or physical impairment are also possible reasons for a driving license cancellation in California.

What is Driving on a Suspended License in California?

Section 14601 of the California Vehicle Code prohibits driving on a suspended license while punishing each offending driver according to reasons why their driving license was suspended in the first place. Although this offense is treated as a misdemeanor, its consequences could be far reaching to the driver. It could lead to fines, additional license suspension, jail time and other substantial penalties.

Bearing in mind the reasons why a driver’s license was suspended in the first place, the California Vehicle Code section 14601 VC is split into sub-sections, each with its own charges and penalties, which may be severe depending on the facts for the suspension. Here is a detailed look into this statute.

  • The California 14601 VC prohibits driving on a suspended license, suspended for reckless driving, negligence in vehicle operation, and driving while under intoxication of drugs or alcohol and driving while mentally or physically impaired.

  • The California 14601.1 VC is the general rule of this statute, which criminalizes any driving on a suspended license regardless of the underlying cause for suspension.

  • The California 14601.2 VC punishes driving on a suspended license which was originally suspended for a DUI conviction. It has the most serious penalties including 10 days to 6 months jail time for first offenders, and significant legal charges.

  • The California 14601.3 VC charges a person whose driving license is suspended for picking up points on his record for habitual traffic violations.

  • Lastly, the California 14601.5 outlaws driving on a suspended license for breaching the Implied Consent Rule.

The California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) or the federal government can suspend a driver’s license for;

  1. Driving under the Influence of alcohol or other drugs (DUI).
  2. Breaching the Implied Consent Rule which requires you to submit to a chemical test for drugs or alcohol.
  3. Reckless driving.
  4. Negligence while operating a motor vehicle.
  5. A buildup of points on the driver’s record.
  6. Caught driving while mentally or physically impaired.
  7. Getting into an accident, while you don’t have the right insurance.
  8. Evading a police officer.
  9. Neglect to pay child support.
  10. Nonobservance of court summons due to a traffic offense.

How can I Check if my License is Suspended?

It is possible to check your driving privileges with the Department of Motor Vehicles by signing up on the official page of the department. Here, you are able to tell the status of your driving privileges, that is, valid, suspended or revoked. It is also possible to see the number of points stacked up in the driving record. In regards to this topic, one can see and, or update their address to the DMV for effective correspondence. This important so that one is able to keep tabs on their suspended license notices, and it can help you to avoid driving on a suspended license laws violations.    

What can I do if my Driving License is Suspended?

It is advisable for you to contact a criminal defense attorney once you become aware that your driving license has been suspended. In case you still have your driving license, you can take it to the California Department of Motor Vehicles or mail it to them. Remember, you are not allowed to drive when your license is in suspension.

Once the suspension period is over, a notice is sent to your mailbox with a set of requirements that you have to fulfill, to have your license replaced by the DMV. During this time, you are still not allowed on the road yet. With the help of our attorneys, you can apply for a restricted license to use temporarily.

What does the Prosecutor Have to Prove in a Driving on a Suspended License Case?

The prosecutor has to show the following facts beyond argument to get a conviction;

  • They have to prove that the driver actually operated a motor vehicle within California while on a suspended license.
  • That the driver was sufficiently informed of their license’s suspension.

Even though license suspension is the key determinant of these crimes, it’s never an issue in most of these cases. What a prosecutor really struggles to prove is the fact that a defendant knew that their license was temporarily out of service. The Laws in California conclude that a driver must have been aware that their license was unavailable if they can verify that, the DMV in California had posted a notice through the mail service informing the driver of the suspension of their license, they used the defendants most recently updated mail address, there was no undelivered mail returned to them in regard to the defendant and a police officer or a sitting judge had personally served the defendant with a notice, informing them of their driver’s license suspension.

Due to the rebuttable presumption, a situation where the courts in California assume some facts to be true unless inferred otherwise by contradicting evidence, it’s important that you engage our attorneys who can help you through this challenge to a favorable conclusion. 

What are the Charges for Driving on a Suspended License?

Section 14601 of the California DMV code punishes this crime with different charges to the various subsections under it, according to the facts of each crime and the guilty driver’s past criminal record. Also, an additional conviction to the charges of driving on a suspended license to a first one within a span of 5-7 years could lead to an intensified sentence. Here, we are able to outline penalties to first-time offenders as follows;

  • Section 14601 VC of the California DMV code punishes the crime of driving with a suspended driving license where the underlying reasons for the suspension were, careless driving, intoxication due to drugs or alcohol, negligent machine use, mental or physical hindrances. The penalties are 5 days to 6 months in a county jail or three hundred ($300) to a thousand dollars ($1000) in fines.

  • Section 14601.1 VC criminalizes driving on a suspended license regardless of the causative factors for the suspension. An offender gets a maximum of 6 months in jail or an option of a fine of three hundred ($300) dollars to a thousand ($1000) dollars.

  • Section 14601.2 VC prohibits driving on a suspended license if the reasons for the suspension are a conviction due to driving under the influence. Lawbreakers get 10 days to 6 months’ time locked up or a fine of $300 to $1000. They also get an ignition interlock device installed in their vehicles.

  • Section 14601.3 VC is for driving on a suspended license, where the cause for the license suspension is a series of points added to the driving record for habitual traffic crimes. They get a month in jail and, or a thousand dollars ($1000) charges.

  • Section 14601.5 VC charges wrongdoers for driving on an unavailable license, where the grounds for the suspension are declining to have chemical tests to verify alcohol or drug content present in the bloodstream taken. The charges are 6 months in a county jail maximum, and, or a three hundred dollars ($300) to a thousand dollars ($1000) fine.

What Defenses are Available for Driving on a Suspended License Charges?

Vista Criminal Attorney Law Firm has a proven track record in court, for their successful arguments on this and other cases. A Vista attorney, representing you while facing a driving on a suspended license charge could argue that you did not know that your driving license was suspended. This has to go hand in hand with the fact that either, the California DMV mailed the suspension notice to an older address, which you no longer use and the current bearer did not bother to return the mail back to the sender, that is to the DMV or that you have never received a notice of license suspension from a law enforcement officer or a presiding judge. In such a case, it would be difficult for the prosecution to assert ‘knowledge’ on your part.

In some unique cases, the attorney may argue that your license was illegally suspended or revoked by the DMV, and you only came to learn about it when stopped by the highway patrol officers. If they are able to demonstrate that the evidence which the prosecution is relying on was obtained in a manner which infringed on your rights as the defendant, then the charges may be dropped. 

A suspended license may have an allowance in such a way that, you are allowed to drive to places where the court deems as critical for your needs such as work, school or court-ordered programs. This is called a restricted license. If you were to be arrested and charged for driving on a suspended license, this would be a valid license that our attorney could articulately present to gain your freedom.

Our attorneys are determined to secure plea bargains with prosecutors to have the charges reduced to minor charges or infractions which attract lesser penalties. A good example would be having the charge reduced to driving without a license which attracts a fine of two hundred and fifty ($250) dollars if charged as an infraction. 

Related Charges

The California Department of Motor Vehicles Code, section 12500 VC which prohibits driving without a valid license is quite similar to the Vehicle Code 14601 VC, but it attracts lesser charges.  You could be charged with Vehicle Code 12500 VC if you are caught driving with an expired driving license, if arrested for driving without a license or if you were stopped and the police found out that you are driving without a California driving license, while you’ve been living there for no less than ten days.

The difference between the California Vehicle Code 12500 VC – driving without a license law and the California Vehicle Code 14601 VC – driving with a suspended license is that for you can only be charged with Vehicle Code 14601, driving with a suspended license for committing more than one California traffic violations.

The California traffic laws also require a driver to present a valid driving license to a traffic officer once required to do so. Failure to show a driver’s license is punished by the California Vehicle Code 12951 VC, where you pay a fine of up to two hundred and fifty dollars ($250). This law is also usually confused with the California Vehicle Code 14601 VC statutes.

What is a California DMV Hearing?

If the California Department of Motor Vehicles notifies you of their intentions to suspend your driving license, you have a right to state your case, to enable you to fight for your driving privileges. You should notify the DMV within ten days of receiving the notice and contact our Vista attorneys to help you understand the complex California DMV Vehicle Code. Contesting to stop a driving license suspension is preferable than defending driving on a suspended license charge.

How Long is my License Suspended?

The period of time that a driving license remains suspended depends on the facts of crime that a driver violated. You might get your license suspended for a month for careless driving such as not making a complete stop. You get one year of driving license suspension if you declined to take chemical tests for driving under the influence while drivers with mental or physical challenges get an indefinite suspension.

How Can I Get my Driving License Reinstated?

As long as your driving license is not revoked, you can have it reinstated. This is possible after you complete the suspension period, undertake any DUI rehabilitation and defensive driving classes and probation. If your license was suspended for a DUI, You will need to have your vehicle and yourself re-insured with the insurance policy being pretty expensive. Your insurance company should provide an SR22 form to the DMV as evidence that the insurer is ready and willing to take up additional risks to cover you. Lastly, you will pay to be re-issued with a driving license, with the amount depending on the underlying causes of license suspension. The highest you can pay for the license is a hundred and twenty-five dollars, ($125). This is the correct procedure before driving off and assuming that your driving privileges are restored once the driving license suspension period is over. Many people assume that and end up getting arrested and charged for driving on a suspended license.

As is with other government processes, this one is also a complex one. Our Attorneys at Vista Criminal Attorney understand the DMV laws well, can cut bureaucracy and have formed key relationships which can get things sorted.

Finding a Driving on a Suspended License Attorney Near Me.

Most people imagine that driving on a suspended license is a minor infraction of the law but this, as we have seen, is not the case. A conviction for this crime could result in limitations on your driving privileges and also leave you digging deep to pay the hefty fines. If this case is handled by our skillful attorneys at Vista Criminal Attorney, the outcome could be favorable to you, and a chance for us to prove yet again, our passion for helping people. We warmly invite you to call us at 760-691-1551 to help argue your side. We serve Vista, CA and the larger North County.