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In California, if a person knowingly drives while their driver’s license is suspended or revoked, they can be found guilty of a criminal misdemeanor under the California Vehicle Code 14601 VC.
Driving on a suspended or revoked license consists of two elements: a person drove a motor vehicle in California while their driver’s license was suspended or revoked, and they were aware of it at the time they were driving.
A person can be convicted if they knowingly drive on a suspended or revoked license when the license was suspended or revoked initially for a DUI. The penalty includes a minimum jail sentence of 10 days for the first offense and 30 days for the second. It also requires the mandatory installation of an Ignition Interlock Device on the convicted person’s vehicle.
The knowledge of a driver license suspension or revocation is presumed if a mailed notice was sent by the DMV or by the court, a police officer personally served the notice or confiscated the license, or a judge in a court of law informed the person.
If a person is a repeat or multiple offender of the suspension and revocation laws, they can face jail time, fines, and their license can be revoked permanently by the state.
Driving in California on a suspended or revoked license is a misdemeanor offense unless there are aggravating circumstances which occurred while the person was driving on the suspended or revoked license, such as an accident with injury or a DUI.
The exact penalties for the charges are unique to each individual case and can vary greatly. Some of the factors that can affect penalties are:
First offenses for driving on a suspended or revoked license are minimal compared to the penalties for being convicted of subsequent offenses.
There are defenses against the charges that an experienced attorney can use to either reduce or dismiss the charges. The defenses most successful in California have included:
Lack of Knowledge
A prosecutor must prove that the accused had knowledge that their license was suspended or revoked. Because the DMV sends out notices of suspension and revocations as does the court, an attorney can argue that the notification methods used to notify were:
It is possible a notification was not received via mail. If the only notification the accused received was when they were pulled over by the police officer who stopped them, this can be considered untimely notification.
Invalid Suspension or Revocation
The basis for an Invalid suspension or revocation must be legal, however, an attorney might investigate the initial suspension or revocation and find that the license was:
In either of those cases, an attorney can petition the court to have the initial suspension dismissed.
Driving on a Restricted License
There are cases where a license is only partially restricted or suspended. A court may have initially imposed only a partial suspension or restriction by limiting driving privileges due to the following needs:
If the accused was driving under any of those circumstances allowed by the court, they cannot be convicted of the charges.
If you have been charged with driving on a suspended or revoked license in Los Angeles, contact an attorney who can help you reduce or dismiss your charges with the solid defense of your case.