Driving on Suspended License Attorney in Orange County

If you’re pulled over while driving on a suspended license in Orange County, you should expect trouble.

Driving on a suspended license is a criminal offense that can lead to fines, fees, your vehicle being impounded, and even potential jail time in some cases. Despite many people being wrongly charged, this charge can jeopardize future rights and freedoms as well as driving privileges.

Learning more about this offense can help should you find yourself driving on a suspended license charge. Furthermore, it usually pays to speak to a driving on a suspended license lawyer to assist in defending against this charge.

It is also worthy to note that one can receive a driving on a suspended license charge even if they did not ever hold a valid driver’s license.  Since driving a motor vehicle is a privilege and not a right, the privilege to drive a motor vehicle may be suspended by the California Department of Motor Vehicles without one ever holding a valid driver’s license. Should this occur, law enforcement would be able to then cite then subsequently prosecute you for driving on a suspended license charge.

Bryan R. Kazarian’s experience with these types of cases is invaluable in making sure that one mistake on the roads doesn’t end up costing you an entry on your criminal record.

California Vehicle Code 14601

Under California Vehicle Code 14601, it is illegal to drive a motor vehicle while one’s license is suspended or revoked when one knows their license is suspended or revoked.

The severity of the crime of driving while your license is suspended/revoked largely depends on the reason your license was suspended, to begin with. 

If your license was suspended because you failed to appear in court or pay a traffic ticket, it is a less serious degree of driving on a suspended license offense than if the suspension was for reckless driving or DUI.

In some cases, where a license is suspended for a serious offense, mandatory minimum jail sentences apply. Driving while suspended/revoked is also a “priorable” offense, meaning that the penalties are more severe for each subsequent conviction under California’s Vehicle Code.

How does driving while suspended differ from driving without a license?

California’s driving laws state that a person may not knowingly drive without a valid driver’s license except those who are expressly exempted from doing so.

It is true that both charges are “wobbler” offenses which can be charged as either an infraction or a misdemeanor.  However, driving without a license is often charged as an infraction, while driving on a suspended license is usually charged as a misdemeanor and obviously is a more serious offense. 

This is largely because if your license is suspended, it means that you have already committed a major traffic offense or several cumulative offenses that show disregard for other road users and the traffic laws.

Oftentimes, penalties for driving on a suspended license are considerably harsher than those for driving without a license.

Driving on Suspended License Attorney Orange County

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During the consultation, we will help you understand your rights and the charges laid against you.

Common violations of CVC 14601 and their associated penalties

There are several different types of violations of California Vehicle Code 14601, depending on the circumstances surrounding the original suspension.

The more serious the original offense, the more serious the penalty will be for driving on a suspended license charge. Subsequent offenses within five years of the first are always punished more harshly than first offenses, as you will see below (the violations are listed in ascending order of severity).

License suspended for driving while suspended/revoked

Under CVC 14601.1, the penalties for driving while your license is suspended or revoked are as follows:

A first conviction: 

  • Up to 3 years of probation
  • Up to 6 months in jail, and/or
  • A fine of $300 – $1,000 plus penalty assessments

A second conviction within five years: 

  • Up to 3 years of probation
  • Up to 1 year in jail, and/or
  • A fine of $500 – $1,000 plus penalty assessments

License suspended for reckless, negligent, or incompetent driving

Under CVC 14601, the penalties for driving while your license is suspended for reckless, negligent, or incompetent driving are as follows:

A first conviction: 

  • Up to 3 years of probation
  • A minimum of 5 days and up to 6 months in jail, and/or
  • A fine of $300 – $1,000 plus penalty assessments

A second conviction within five years: 

  • Up to 3 years of probation
  • A minimum of 10 days and up to 6 months in jail, and/or
  • A fine of $500 – $1,000 plus penalty assessments

License suspended for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs

Under CVC 14601.2, the penalties for driving while your license is suspended for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs are as follows:

A first conviction: 

  • Up to 3 years of probation
  • A minimum of 10 days and up to 6 months in jail, and/or
  • A fine of $300 – $1,000 plus penalty assessments, and/or
  • Installation of a certified ignition interlock device in your vehicle

A second conviction within five years: 

  • Up to 3 years of probation
  • A minimum of 30 days and up to 1 year in jail, and/or
  • A fine of $500 – $2,000 plus penalty assessments

License suspended for refusing to submit to a chemical test or driving with an unlawful blood-alcohol level

Under CVC 14601.5, the penalties for driving while your license is suspended for refusing to submit to a chemical test or driving with an unlawful blood-alcohol level are as follows:

A first conviction: 

  • Up to 3 years of probation
  • p to 6 months in jail, and/or
  • A fine of $300 – $1,000 plus penalty assessments, and/or
  • Installation of a certified ignition interlock device in your vehicle

A second conviction within five years: 

  • Up to 3 years of probation
  • A minimum of 10 days and up to 1 year in jail, and/or
  • A fine of $500 – $2,000 plus penalty assessments
  • Installation of a certified ignition interlock device in your vehicle

Defending a driving with a suspended license charge

To convict a person of driving while suspended, the state must prove that you knew that your license was suspended or revoked and you were, therefore, not permitted to drive. 

Under the CVC laws, knowledge of the suspension or revocation is necessary but knowledge shall be conclusively presumed if mailed notice has been given by the department to the person.

One of the most frequently used defenses to driving while suspended is that you didn’t know that your license was suspended or revoked. 

Notices do get lost in the mail or perhaps you moved and changed your address. Perhaps you were never told by the police or a judge that your license was suspended or revoked. 

In these cases, asserting a lack of knowledge of the suspension may prevent a conviction or potentially be used as an argument in negotiations for a reduced charge.

Another valid defense for driving while suspended is that the suspension itself was invalid. Perhaps you paid the traffic ticket or your license should have been renewed by the DMV but a clerical error was made. 

If we can show that the underlying suspension was invalid, the charge against you will most likely be dismissed.

Finally, a driving while suspended/revoked charge can be defended by showing that the police officer did not have reasonable suspicion to stop you in the first place. Without that, a motion to suppress may be filed with the court which, if granted by the judge, will likely end the case against you.

Been charged with driving with a suspended license in Orange County? 

Our lawyers are available to help 24/7

A charge for driving on a suspended license may be an honest mistake. However, it is a mistake that can impact your future employment, credit, and travel plans as well as your driving privileges.

The Law Offices of Bryan R. Kazarian provide experienced legal representation to help you navigate the legal processes and get your charge dismissed or reduced. We want to prevent one mistake from negatively affecting your life.

If you’re based in Orange County and need legal assistance, call The Law Offices of Bryan R. Kazarian today at 855-918-4253 or contact us here to request a consultation.

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