The state of California and the Los Angeles County Court's strictly enforces a driver's licenses suspension. Under California Vehicle Code 14601, it's a crime to drive a motor vehicle when you know that your driver's license has been suspended or revoked.
If a police officer pulls you over on a traffic stop and discovers your license has been suspended, you will most likely be charged with violating Vehicle Code 14601, even though your traffic violation was minor. Driving on a suspended license is a misdemeanor crime in California.
If you were involved in a traffic accident, you could face harsh consequences. It's important to note that you can be guilty of driving on a suspended license if your driver's license was suspended or revoked for a wide variety of reasons.
The most common reasons include:
- (1) A California DUI conviction;
- (2) Negligent operator due to excessive points on your driving record;
- (3) Failing to appear in court after you received a summons for a traffic ticket, and;
- (4) Failing to pay a fine after a traffic court appearance.
In order to be convicted of driving on a suspended driver's license, the prosecutor has to be able to prove that you knew your license was suspended. Our Los Angeles criminal defense law firm has a history of success defending our clients who were charged with violating California Vehicle Code 14601.
For example, in Van Nuys Courthouse, our client was arrested for driving on a suspended license due to a DUI charge. The original settlement offer from the Los Angeles County prosecutor was 180 days in an LA County jail.
After extensive negotiations, our law firm was able to secure a final disposition of driving without a valid driver's license in California, along with some community service as the punishment.
If you have charged with driving on a suspended license, call a Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer at Eisner Goring LLP as soon as possible. Remember, the burden is on the prosecutor to prove you knew your driver's license was suspended or revoked.
Our attorneys will provide aggressive legal defense to obtain the best possible outcome. Now that we have covered a basic overview of driving on a suspended driver's license in California, let's take a closer look at the legal definition, legal penalties, and potential defenses below.
California Vehice Code 14601 - Driving with a Suspended License
Under California Vehicle Code 14601, driving with a suspended license is legally defined as follows:
- (a) No person shall drive a motor vehicle at any time when their driving privilege is suspended or revoked for reckless driving, or any reason listed that authorizes the department to refuse to issue a license, negligent or incompetent operation of a motor vehicle, if the person so driving has knowledge of the suspension or revocation. Knowledge shall be presumed if mailed notice has been given by the department to the person, pursuant to Section 13106.
In basic terms, this means the legal definition of driving on a suspended or revoked license consists of the 2 distinct elements of the crime. These include:
- You were driving a motor vehicle while your California driver's license was suspended or revoked, and
- You knew your driving privileges in California were suspended or revoked at the time you were driving.
The key element of the crime is the presumption of knowledge. Under California law, driving on a suspended license law presumes that you had knowledge of your driver's license suspension or revocation if you received notice from the DMV prior to driving on a suspended license.
Typically, the California DMV will mail you a notice informing you that your license had been suspended or revoked. This notice will be mailed to the most recent address you reported to the DMV.
If a suspension notice was mailed to an invalid address and returned to the DMV, you are NOT presumed to have known your driver's license suspension under California Vehicle Code 14601.
However, there will be a presumption of knowledge that you knew your California driving privileges were suspended or revoked if police officer personally served you with a notice of the suspension or revocation, and confiscated your license, which is typical after a DUI arrest.
Another presumption of knowledge of driving on a suspended license is when a judge informs you of a driver's license suspension or revocation at the time you were sentenced for a violations that results in a suspension.
Common Reasons for a California Driver's License Suspension
The California Department of Motor Vehicles or court may suspend your driver's license for any of the following reasons:
- Reckless driving;
- A medical condition;
- Any DUI alcohol or DUI drug abuse related incidents;
- Negligent operation from excessive points on your driving record;
- Failing to appear in court after a traffic ticket summons;
- Failing to pay a fine after a traffic court appearance;
- Failing to pay child support;
- Failing to provide proof of car insurance (SR-22).
Contact a Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer at our law firm for additional information and how to reinstate your driving privilege after a driver's license suspension.
Legal Penalties for Driving with a Suspended License
If you are convicted of driving on a suspended license in Los Angeles County, you could face jail time, a fine, or both jail and a fine. However, the exact legal penalties will vary depending on a variety of factors, including why your license was suspended, whether you have prior convictions for driving with a suspended license, and your driving history.
If your driver's was suspended for other reasons not mentioned above, you face 5 days to 6 months in a Los Angeles County jail, a fine up to $1,000, or both jail and fine for a first offense. If convicted of a second offense, you could face up to 1 year in a county jail, a fine up to $2,000, or both jail and fine.
Legal Defense for Driving with a Suspended License
If you have been charged with driving with a suspended license, an experienced Los Angeles criminal defense attorney at our law firm can use a variety of potential legal defenses on your behalf. These legal defenses against an alleged violation of California Vehicle Code 14601 include:
- You didn't know your license was suspended because of some defect with the notice given – our lawyers may be able to prove your notice of the suspension was mailed to an old address and you never received it. Our lawyers might also be able to prove you were never actually informed of your suspension by a judge or other law enforcement officer.
- Lack of probable cause – In some cases, our criminal lawyers may be able to prove the police officer did not have reasonable cause to pull you over on a traffic stop. If we can show it was an unlawful traffic stop, you can't be guilty of driving on a suspended driver's license.
Contact a Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney
If you have been charged with driving on a suspended or revoked license in violation of California Vehicle Code 14601, contact a Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer at Eisner Gorin LLP.
Our attorneys have a track record of success defending our client's against any type of traffic-related crime. We will need to first closely examine the facts and circumstances leading to your arrest in order to develop and effective defense strategy. We offer a free immediate reply.