Driving While License Suspended
Often, Florida drivers do not realize that driving on a suspended license is a violation for which they can face criminal penalties. Too often, they know about the suspension but are cavalier about it. The results of driving while a license is suspended can be quite serious. If you drive on a suspended license without knowledge of the suspension, this is a noncriminal or administrative charge. If you are charged with driving on a suspended license with knowledge, you should consult an experienced Clearwater criminal defense attorney. Hanlon Law fights aggressively for the rights of the accused in cases involving motor vehicle violations as well as drug crimes and sex crimes.Charges of Driving on a Suspended License
Your license can be suspended for many different reasons. The DMV may suspend it because of a DUI conviction or arrest, because you have accrued enough points for a suspension because of other traffic violations, because you have been delinquent in child support payments, because you have failed to appear in court after being ordered to do so, because you have failed to pay a judgment or court costs, because you have been convicted of petit theft, because you have refused a chemical test when suspected of DUI, because of a drug crime conviction, because you entered a plea to racing on a highway, or because you have been designated as a Habitual Traffic Offender.
The amount of time of the suspension depends on which offense triggered the suspension. For example, if you accumulate 12 points in a year, the suspension may last for 30 days. If the suspension is for a failure to pay required child support, the suspension can last until you make all of the payments owed to the Florida Department of Revenue.
If you are convicted for a first offense of driving on a suspended license, you can be sentenced for a second-degree misdemeanor, which comes with 60 days of incarceration and a $500 fine. To establish the criminal offense, the prosecutor will need to show that you knew that the license was suspended. Otherwise, you can be charged administratively with driving on a suspended license without knowledge. The administrative charge can be used to extend a license suspension to five years upon a conviction.
For a second driving on a suspended license conviction, you can be charged with a first-degree misdemeanor. This means that you can be jailed for a maximum of a year and fined. For a third driving on a suspended license offense, you can be charged with a third-degree felony. If convicted, this means that you can be incarcerated for a maximum of five years and fined up to $5,000.
Once you have received three convictions for driving while your license is suspended within five years, you can be designated as a Habitual Traffic Offender by the DMV. This means that your driver's license could be revoked for five years. This designation means that you will not be able to even apply for a hardship license for at least one year after the last conviction. A hardship license allows you to drive under certain conditions and for certain reasons, even if the license is suspended or revoked.
There are various defenses that your attorney may be able to raise if you are charged with driving while your license is suspended. The specific circumstances will dictate the appropriate defense strategy. In some cases, it may be possible to challenge the police officer's traffic stop. In other cases, it may be appropriate to argue that you reasonably believed that there had been a reinstatement of your license. In other situations, we may argue that you did not know about the suspension. However, if there are other charges in addition to driving on a suspended license, such as reckless driving, your lawyer will need to develop a comprehensive strategy that addresses all of the charges.Hire an Experienced Clearwater Attorney to Fight Your Motor Vehicle Charge
If you are charged with driving on a suspended license in Clearwater, you may face significant consequences, and even if the initial consequences are mild, you may face serious penalties for repeat violations. Our founder, Will Hanlon, is dedicated to protecting the rights of the accused and has represented clients charged with traffic crimes since 1994. You can contact Hanlon Law at 727-897-5413 or via our online form.