It is considered a criminal offense in California to drive when you know that your license has been suspended or revoked, and this charge carries significant penalties, possibly including incarceration, a substantial fine, and a loss of certain rights, such as the right to drive a motor vehicle or the right to possess a firearm. However, being arrested for driving on a suspended license isn’t the end of the world, and it doesn’t mean that you are guaranteed to be charged with or convicted of a crime. The burden of proving your guilt lies with the prosecution and hiring a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney is the best way to fight these charges and minimize any potential adverse consequences you may face as a result of driving on a suspended license. If you have been arrested for or charged with driving on a suspended license in California, contact our experienced lawyers at Criminal Defense Attorney Los Angeles today for legal help. With a skilled criminal defense attorney on your side, you can ensure that your legal rights are protected and improve your chances of reaching a favorable conclusion to your case.
Affordable Driving on a Suspended License Defense Attorney in L.A.
If you drive while your California license is suspended, you could face criminal charges that carry a mandatory term of imprisonment, and a conviction on such charges will then become public record, accessible to any future employers, landlords and anyone else who runs a background check on you. Having a criminal defense attorney on your side who is intimately familiar with the intricacies of the California criminal justice system, as well as the facts and circumstances of your case, the nature of your criminal offense, your background, and what defense strategies are available to you is imperative when facing criminal liability for driving on a suspended license in Los Angeles. Our lawyers at Criminal Defense Attorney Los Angeles will ensure that you understand the charges you are facing and are fully aware of your rights under California law, so you can fight the charges and move on with your life.
Driving on a Suspended License
Under California Vehicle Code § 14601 license suspended/revoked for specific offenses, it is illegal to knowingly drive a car, motorcycle or any other motor vehicle when you know that your license has been suspended due to reckless driving, a conviction for a California DUI, a mental or physical disability that prevents you from driving safely, or being declared a negligent or incompetent driver for having too many points on your license. Of the various possible reasons a person’s driver’s license might be suspended, the most common is reckless driving, which is often charge reduction from a California DUI. For example, if you are facing DUI charges in California, and you get the charge reduced to wet reckless or dry reckless, you could have your license suspended as a result of the charges. If you drive while your license is suspended, a fact you are aware of, and you get pulled over, you could be charged with driving on a suspended license.
It is important to understand that even after your license suspension “expires,” meaning, for example, that your license was suspended for one year and the year is up, you still cannot legally drive until you take affirmative steps to have your California driving privileges restored. In order to do so, you must take the proper steps with the DMV to regain your driving privileges and prove to the court that you have completed your probation requirements. Some criminal offenses related to Vehicle Code § 14601 VC include Vehicle Code § 14601.1 VC license revoked/suspended for general offenses, Vehicle Code § 14601.2 VC license revoked/suspended for DUI, and Vehicle Code § 14601.3 VC habitual traffic offenders.
Criminal Liability for Driving on a Suspended License Vehicle Code § 14601
Just because you have been accused of driving on a suspended license, does not mean you will be charged with or convicted of a crime. In order for you to be criminally liable for driving on a suspended license in Los Angeles, the prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt, the two main elements of the crime, which include:
- That you drove a motor vehicle with a suspended California license; and
- That you knew at the time that your California driving privileges were suspended.
The key to this criminal offense is the second element, the knowledge that your license was suspended. California law presumes that you knew about the suspension of your driver’s license only if all of the following factors are accurate:
- A notice was mailed to you from the California DMV notifying you that your license had been suspended;
- The notice was sent to the most recent address reported by you to the DMV; and
- The notice was not returned to the DMV as unclaimed or undeliverable.
Under Vehicle Code § 14601 VC, it is additionally presumed that you knew your license was suspended if a police officer personally served you with a notice of suspension when you were arrested for a DUI or another violation resulting in suspension, or if a judge informed you of the license suspension at the time he or she sentenced you for such a violation.
Penalties for a Driving on a Suspended License Conviction
Driving on a suspended license in Los Angeles in violation of Vehicle Code § 14601 is a California misdemeanor, punishable by a possible county jail sentence and/or significant fines. However, the specific penalties you could face for knowingly driving on a suspended license vary, depending on a variety of factors, including:
- Why your license was suspended in the first place;
- Your driving history; and
- Whether you have any prior convictions for driving with a suspended license.
For example, for first-time offenders who have their license suspended for reckless driving or alcohol or drug abuse, and who drive a vehicle in violation of Vehicle Code § 14601 VC, the misdemeanor offense is punishable by a county jail sentence of five days to six months and a fine of between $300 and $1,000. If you are convicted of driving on a suspended license under Vehicle Code § 14601.2 VC driving on a suspended license for DUI, you may be required to install an ignition interlock device in your vehicle to prevent you from operating the car unless you can pass the mini-breathalyzer test.
Defenses to Driving on a Suspended License
It is important to note that even if California driving on a suspended license law presumes that you knew your driver’s license was suspended and drove a motor vehicle anyway, that does not serve as not conclusive proof that you were aware of the suspension. It is still up to the jury to decide whether or not you actually knew that your California driving privileges were suspended, and whether you should therefore be found guilty of VC 14601, and it is up to your Los Angeles criminal defense attorney to establish your innocence by building a strong defense in your case. Some common legal defenses a criminal defense attorney can use to help you fight charges of Los Angeles driving on a suspended license include:
- You did not know that your license had been suspended;
- You had the right to drive under a restricted license;
- The original suspension of your license was invalid; or
- That your Constitutional rights were violated.
Hiring an Experienced Driving on a Suspended License Attorney
Driving on a suspended license is never advisable, but if you do so and you are stopped by a police officer, you could be arrested, your car could be impounded, and you could suffer a criminal conviction. Unlike getting a speeding ticket, driving on a suspended license is a crime, and it’s one that is taken very seriously by prosecutors and judges in California. If you or a loved one has been charged with driving on a suspended license in Los Angeles, don’t hesitate to obtain qualified legal representation. A violation of Vehicle Code § 14601 VC may not seem like a serious offense, but the consequences of a driving on a suspended license conviction can follow you for the rest of your life, possibly resulting in the permanent loss of driving privileges and other long-lasting penalties. And unless you have an extensive background in criminal law, it is not a good idea to try to represent yourself. A mistake at any stage of the criminal proceeding can be disastrous and an experienced criminal defense attorney can help you avoid such mistakes. Contact our knowledgeable legal team at Criminal Defense Attorney Los Angeles today for a free initial consultation.