You could have your driver’s license suspended under various circumstances in California. And this could result in the license being suspended for a definite amount of time or revoked for good.  The decision to suspend your license could be made by the court or the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). Some acts that could lead to the decision to suspend your driver’s license include lack of vehicle insurance, driving under the influence (DUI), or refusing a chemical test.

If you or your relative has been accused of the driving offense of driving with a suspended license, you could face penalties, such as jail or prison sentences or fines. You want to contact a competent lawyer who will help you build strong defenses that could see your charges dismissed or reduced. The lawyer must also have experience dealing with defendants accused of driving with a suspended license and has had positive outcomes in many cases.

At Los Angeles Criminal Attorney, we have lawyers who have spent many years defending people accused of driving with a suspended license. Our attorneys’ primary aim is to build strong defenses to help you have the most favorable outcome in your case. Contact us today so that we can start working on your case.

An Overview of Driving With a Suspended License in California

Under Vehicle Code 14601.1(a), it is illegal to knowingly undertake driving a vehicle with a revoked or suspended driver’s license. Failure to adhere to this regulation could attract serious charges and penalties depending on the nature of the crime and the use of a suspended driver's license.

Elements of the Offense That The Prosecutor Must Prove

If charged with a driving offense, a prosecutor must present substantial evidence in court that you committed the crime. Some of the elements that indicate the offense of driving with a suspended license include:

  • You operated a car knowing that your driver’s license had been revoked or suspended.
  • You operated a vehicle after your driving privilege was suspended due to your refusal to partake in a chemical test.

Suspension of driver’s privileges is common due to failure to attend a court case when prosecuted for a driving offense. Other factors that could lead to your driver’s license being suspended include the following:

  • Reckless or careless driving.
  • Resenting to the administration of a DUI chemical test.
  • Driving under the influence charges in California.
  • Driving without an automobile insurance
  • Being in possession of a ticket that has yet to be paid for.
  • Accumulating many points on your driver’s license, for example, having 4 points in one year.
  • Being found to be mentally or physically impaired.
  • If you are a known offender and have been declared a careless driver.

Instances When Driving with a Suspended License is Considered a Crime

In instances where your driver’s license is suspended or revoked, further operating of the vehicle could see you face criminal charges and penalties if you are found guilty under California Vehicle code 14601. Many forms embody the crime of driving with a suspended license. They include:

You Operated a Vehicle With The Knowledge That Your Driver’s License Had Been Suspended Or Revoked

You are only found guilty of driving with a suspended license if it is proven that you had prior knowledge that your driver’s license had been revoked. Under Vehicle Code 14601.1,  you are presumed to have the knowledge that your driver’s license has been suspended if the following statements are true:

  • The California Department of Motor vehicles sent you a notice to inform you of the suspension, and you received it.
  • The DMV sent the suspension notice to your most recent address.
  • The California DMV still did not receive an unclaimed statement to the notice they sent you.

You could still be found guilty of having the knowledge that your driver’s license had been revoked if:

  • A law enforcement personnel confiscated your driver’s license or informed you that the license was revoked upon arrest. The arrest could have resulted from a violation of California's driving laws.
  • Your license was revoked in court as a sentence convicted against a driving offense you had been accused of and been found guilty of.

You Received a Notice of Suspension From the DMV

The DMV is responsible for ensuring a systematic record of all motor vehicle privileges of all drivers in California. Therefore when the court convicts you of driving with a suspended license, the status of your conviction is updated, and a notice is sent to your mail.

This is the most efficient way for the prosecutor to get substantial evidence through the DMV records. The DMV employee delivers the notice to your address and then keeps a record of you having received the mail.  It is more efficient than a phone call, email or text because you receive the notice physically.

If your prosecutor proves that you received the mail, you will face the charges of being a repeat offender who had prior knowledge of the suspension.

The California DMV Did Not Receive An Unclaimed Statement To The Notice They Sent You

The standard operating procedure of the California DMV requires that the employee with the mandate to deliver mail to the convicted persons should return it if they cannot locate your address or workplace and also update the status of the unclaimed statement in the department’s database.

You could face charges for driving with a suspended license if no unclaimed statements were made to the DMV on the notice they sent you. It simply means that you received the notice and know that your driver’s license was revoked.

Operating a motor vehicle while you had received the notice from the DMV could see you convicted, as it is presumed that you were aware of the suspension.

The DMV In California Sent The Suspension Notice To Your Most Recent Address

The prosecutor could have substantial evidence to have you arraigned in court if they prove that the Department of Motor Vehicles sent the license suspension notice to your most recent address. Establishing this is essential as it will serve as a basis for the proceedings in cases where the defendant denies receiving the notification.

The prosecutor will have to consult the DMV employee tasked with sending the notification and confirm which address was used in disseminating information about the defendant’s driver’s license suspension. The prosecutor will then compare the results from the DMV and your current address details to ascertain that you received the license suspension notice and still operated a motor vehicle.

Your Driver’s License Was Revoked While You Were Operating The Vehicle

In California, there are instances when law enforcement personnel could pull you over for committing a driving offense, such as overspeeding, in areas where there is a speed limitation. If you are found to be overspeeding and also in a drunken state or any other driving offense, you could face revocation of your driver’s license upon arrest.

The prosecutor could use the information of your driver’s license being suspended upon arrest recorded in the DMV database to file a case against you if you are found driving after the revocation.

Your License Was Revoked After A Court Conviction

You could face charges of driving with a suspended driver’s license if you are found operating a vehicle even after being convicted of a driving offense you had been guilty of earlier. A prosecutor could gather evidence from your criminal record and prosecute you in a county court as a repeat offender if your records prove that your license had been revoked.

The District Attorney’s office in California does not usually prosecute driving with a suspended license offense case unless the accused is a repeat offender and has committed the same offense several times within the last 24 months.

Penalties for Violating Vehicle Code 14601.1. (a) in California

Driving with a suspended or revoked license is a misdemeanor offense, and the penalties you could incur depend on the nature of your crime.

Careless, Negligent Or Inattentive Driving, Vehicle Code 14601

You are guilty of a Vehicle Code 14601 violation in California if you operated a vehicle with a suspended license and were charged with driving recklessly or negligently by the police. The charges also led to the suspension and consequent confiscation of your driver’s license.

If convicted, you could face probation for three months, a jail sentence of 5 days or six months, and a fine of $1000.

Perpetual Traffic Offender, Vehicle Code 14601.3

You are liable to conviction under Vehicle Code 14601.3 if you drove a vehicle on a suspended license and your driver’s license was revoked because you are a habitual driving offender. Penalties under this statute include the following:

  • A thirty-day jail sentence.
  • A 3 months probation sentence.
  • Fines of a maximum of $1000.

In California, you could be accused of being a ‘habitual traffic offender’ if you were engaged in these acts within the last year while on a suspended driver’s license:

  • Violation of more than two general moving offenses.
  • Your involvement in 3 or more road accidents that resulted in injury or damage of property worth more than $750.
  • Violation of any other Vehicle Code offenses.
  • Exceeding the maximum driving speed required for a particular zone.

Refusing to Undertake a Required Chemical Test, Vehicle Code 14601.5

You will be arraigned in court and charged with a Vehicle Code 14601.5 Violation in California if you drive on a suspended license and refuse to partake in a chemical test as the law requires. Possible penalties you could accrue if found guilty include the following:

  • A sentence of up to 6 months in a County jail.
  • Informal probation of six years.
  • A fine of $1000.

DUI Charges, Vehicle Code 14601.2

You could face conviction if it is proven that you operated a vehicle with a revoked license. You received a driver’s license suspension due to Driving Under the Influence of drugs or other substance abuse. If found guilty of drunk driving on a suspended license, you could face a sentence of 10 to 6 months in a county jail, three-year informal probation, a fine of $1000, or your vehicle could have a certified ignition interlock device installed to prevent you from operating the car at that moment.

Immigration Consequences for violation of Vehicle Code 14601.1(a)

In California, most criminal offenses committed by a non-citizen could lead to deportation or subsequent suspension of the immigrant’s migration rights, making them inadmissible. The violation against the Vehicle Code 14601.1(a) statute, however, does not have such repercussions meaning that conviction will not result in their deportation.

Violation of Vehicle Code 14601.1 Effects on your Gun Rights

If you are found guilty of the driving offense of driving with a suspended license,, and you are sentenced to serve in the county jail, your rights to own, possess,, or purchase a gun will not be affected in any way.

Legal defenses against Vehicle Code 14601.1(a)

You want to build strong defenses against your charges of driving with a suspended license due to the repercussions that come with the accusation when convicted. You will have to seek the services of an experienced attorney to help dismiss or lower your charges.

To have a positive outcome in your defenses against charges under Vehicle Code 14601.1(a), you will have to provide your lawyer with information that could prove that you are innocent. Some of the common defenses against driving with suspended license charges include:

Not Having Prior Knowledge that Your Driver’s License has been Suspended

Under California law, you are only guilty of the driving offense if you operate a vehicle with the knowledge that your license has been revoked. If you were unaware, this would serve as a strong defense when you are arraigned in court for the crime, as you knowingly did not drive with a suspended license.

For example, the DMV suspended Lucy’s driver’s license after she had accumulated more than 3 points and was marked as a negligent driver. The employee tasked with sending the notice sends the mail to her old address, and as a result, Lucy does not receive the notification.

The traffic police then pull her over for having a broken side mirror, and she is discovered to be driving on a suspended license. Lucy will not be held liable for the violation of the statute.

You were Driving with a Suspended License Due to the Necessity

It is commonly known as ‘being guilty with an explanation.’ You could attempt to prove that you drove with a suspended license out of necessity, thereby avoiding a guilty conviction. The necessity could be due to a medical emergency that was unavoidable.

This was when you were the only person available to drive the sick person to the hospital or you had to avert a dangerous situation such as being attacked by thugs. You have to prove in court that the situation compelled you to go against the set rules for having your license revoked.

If you are arraigned in court, it is best to carry substantial medical evidence that could prove that you indeed needed urgent care. This evidence could include documents such as medical bill receipts or car parking slots receipt. You should also have the documents in the correct regional format so they are not fabricated or plagiarized.

Once your defending lawyer presents the evidence in court, the judge will decide based on the nature of the findings. Your penalties could be reduced or minimized depending on how strong the presented defenses are.

Your Driver’s License Was not Suspended or Revoked

You could prove that the entire case’s nature is not substantial by proving that your driver’s license has not been suspended. This is a crucial type of defense as it requires you to be truly aware and have evidence that your license has not been suspended.

You will need to work with your criminal attorney to gather substantial evidence from the DMV in cases of mistaken identity. The records in the DMV could be significant if they prove that the suspension was a result of mistaken identity.

Doing this could result in the judge requesting more investigation into your case, and if your claims are true, your charges will be dismissed.

Expungement of the Offense of Driving With a Suspended License Conviction

Driving with a suspended license crime conviction in California could be expunged/ removed from your criminal record if you complete your probation time or your jail time if imposed. The expungement occurs even if you have committed a probation offense.

Crimes Related to the Violation of Vehicle Code 14601.1(a)

Under California law, three crimes are related to driving with a suspended license violation. They include:

  • The use of a driver’s license unlawfully- Vehicle Code 14610.
  • Failure to present your driver’s license when required- Vehicle Code 12951.
  • Operating a vehicle without a license- Vehicle Code 12500.

The Use Of A Driver’s License Unlawfully, California Vehicle Code 14610

In California, you could face criminal charges under Vehicle Code 14610 if you unlawfully use a driver’s license. Some of the elements that embody this driving offense include the following:

  • Lending your Driver’s license to another person.
  • Being in possession of a suspended or revoked license.
  • You refuse to surrender a suspended license when it is asked of you.
  • You alter or duplicate a driver’s license.

This crime is a misdemeanor that could see you accrue penalties such as custody in the county jail for up to six months or a fine of $1000.

Failure To Present Your Driver’s License When It Is Required, California Vehicle Code 12951

Under Vehicle Code 12951, you could face charges if you are driving on a suspended license and refuse to present the license to a police officer requesting you to do so. This crime could also lead to charges under both VC 12500 & 12951. Penalties include a maximum of $250 court fine.

Operating A Vehicle Without A License, California Vehicle Code 12500

In California, you could be liable to have charges filed against you by a prosecutor if you are found operating a vehicle without a driver’s license. The license does not necessarily have to be from California; it could also be valid in another state.

The penalties for operating a vehicle without a license depend on the circumstances surrounding your case and your driving history. In general, a first offense of driving without a license may be punishable by a fine of up to $250. However, if you have a previous conviction for the same offense, the fine may be increased to up to $500. In some cases, you could be ordered to attend traffic school. Repeat offenses or particularly egregious violations may result in more severe penalties, such as imprisonment or the suspension of the individual's driving privileges.

Find A Criminal Attorney Near Me

In California, driving with a suspended license is a misdemeanor offense that could see you face a conviction of 6 months to a year in county jail. If you or your relative is facing charges of driving with a suspended license, you want to take these accusations seriously as they could be detrimental to you as this will appear in your criminal record.

You want to seek the services of an experienced criminal defense attorney to help you have the charges reduced or expunged. The lawyer must have experience defending defendants accused of driving with a suspended license and positive outcome records of the cases they have handled.

We at Los Angeles Criminal Attorney are always ready to assist you, regardless of the nature or specifics  that embody acts of driving with a suspended license that you have been accused of. We will review your case, build solid defenses and fight for your rights to achieve a favorable outcome. For consultation services and to talk to a lawyer, contact us at 424-333-0943 today.