Driving on Suspended License California Vehicle Code 14601/14601.1/14601.2/14601.5 et al

Under California Vehicle Code 14601 et al, it is illegal to knowingly drive on a license that is suspended or revoked. Driving while suspended/revoked (a criminal offense) is different from the less serious offense of driving without a license (California Vehicle Code Section 12500), which can be charged as a non-criminal offense and carries less severe penalties.

The severity of the penalties you will receive if convicted of driving while suspended/revoked will largely depend on the reason your license was suspended to begin with. If your license was suspended because, for example, you failed to appear for a summons or to pay a traffic ticket, it is a less serious crime.

On the other hand, if your license was suspended as a result of a DUI conviction, or because you are found by the California DMV to be a reckless or negligent operator, then a charge of driving while suspended/revoked is a much more serious offense, involving mandatory minimum jail sentences.

What's more, driving while suspended/revoked is a "priorable" offense, meaning that the penalties are more severe for each subsequent conviction under California Vehicle Code 14601.

The Penalties If Convicted of Driving while Suspended/Revoked in California

The potential penalties for the most common violations of California Vehicle Code 14601 are as follows:

  • License Suspended For Driving while Suspended/Revoked (14601.1)

A first conviction:

Up to 3 years of probation;

Up to 6 months in jail; and/or

$300 - $1000 in fines

A second conviction:

Up to 3 years of probation;

Up to 1 year in jail; and/or

$500 - $1000 in fines

  • License Suspended For Reckless, Negligent, or Incompetent Driving (Section 14601)

A first conviction:

Up to 3 years of probation;

A minimum of 5 days and up to 6 months in jail; and/or

$300-$1000 in fines

A second conviction within 5 years:

Up to 3 years of probation

A minimum of 10 days and up to 1 year in jail; and/or

$500-$1000 in fines

  • License Suspended For Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol or Drugs (Section 14601.2)

A first conviction:

Up to 3 years probation;

A minimum of 10 days and up to 6 months in jail; and/or

$300 - $1000 in fines

Installation of a certified ignition interlock device on your vehicle

A second conviction within 5 years:

Up to 3 years of probation;

A minimum of 30 days and up to 1 year in jail; and/or

$500 - $2000 in fines

  • License Suspended For Refusing to Submit to a Chemical Test or Driving With an Unlawful Blood Alcohol (Section 14601.5)

A first conviction:

Up to 3 years probation;

A minimum of 10 days and up to 6 months in jail;

$300 - $1000 in fines; and/or

Installation of a certified ignition interlock device on your vehicle

A second conviction within 5 years:

Up to 3 years probation;

A minimum of 30 days and up to 1 year in jail; and/or

$500 - $2000 in fines

Defending a Charge for Driving While Suspended/Revoked

In order to be convicted of driving while suspended/revoked, the state has to prove that you knew that your license was suspended or revoked and were, therefore, not permitted to drive. Thus, one of the most frequently used defenses to a driving while suspended/revoked charge is that you didn't know that your license was suspended or revoked.

Perhaps you didn't receive the notice in the mail, or it was sent to an old address. Perhaps you were never told by the police or a judge that your license was suspended or revoked. In these cases, you can assert a lack of knowledge to prevent yourself from being convicted.

Another common defense to a driving while suspended/revoked charge is that the suspension itself was invalid. Perhaps you actually paid the traffic ticket. Perhaps your license should have been renewed, but the DMV forgot to renew it. If you can show that the underlying suspension was invalid, the charge will most likely be dismissed.

Another way we can defend a driving while suspended/revoked charge is by showing that the police officer did not have probable cause to stop you in the first place. If the officer did not have probable cause to stop you, a motion to suppress can be filed with the court. If the judge grants this motion, the charge will usually be dismissed.

Contact The Law Offices of Bryan R. Kazarian

To put it simply, driving while suspended/revoked is a charge that a lot of innocent people are wrongly accused of. Fortunately for many, our law firm has a great record of success when it comes to getting these charges reduced or dismissed. If you have been charged with driving while suspended/revoked in California, call The Law Offices of Bryan R. Kazarian at 24/7 (855) 918-4253 to consult with an experienced California traffic lawyer and to find out what we can do to help you avoid a conviction.