Driving on a Suspended License
In Florida driving with a suspended license can have serious repercussions ranging anywhere from the payment of fines to jail time. Aside from causing significant difficulties in day-to-day life, a conviction for driving with a suspended license will also remain permanently on a person’s record. For these reasons, it is important that if you have been charged with this crime, you seek the advice of an experienced attorney immediately.Reasons for Suspension
In Florida a broad range of offenses may lead to a license being suspended. The reasons include:
- An arrest or conviction for driving while intoxicated;
- Drug-related convictions;
- Petit theft charges;
- A refusal to submit to a Breathalyzer test;
- Child support delinquency;
- A failure to pay fines, court costs, and traffic tickets;
- A failure to appear in court;
- A failure to maintain automobile insurance;
- Impaired vision;
- Classification as a habitual traffic offender; or
- The accrual of a certain number of insurance points.
A person can be charged with driving with a suspended license if he or she:
- Drives an automobile;
- On a Florida highway;
- While the driver’s license is suspended or revoked; and
- Knows that the license has been suspended or revoked.
Knowledge of a suspension can either be actual or implied. A driver’s admission to an officer that he or she knew that the license was suspended constitutes actual knowledge. Knowledge can also be implied from the presentation of documentation like letters and records from the Department of Motor Vehicles.Penalties
The penalties for driving with a suspended license vary, depending on the degree of seriousness of the offense. A first offense is a second degree misdemeanor, punishable by up to 60 days in jail and $500 fine. A second offense is a first degree misdemeanor, which can result in up to one year’s imprisonment and a $1,000 fine. A third offense is a third degree felony, punishable by a prison sentence of up to five years and a $5,000 fine.
One who has been designated a habitual offender faces additional penalties for driving with a suspended license. A habitual offender is someone who has accumulated three or more convictions of any of the following offenses arising out of separate acts within a five-year period:
- Driving with a revoked or suspended license;
- Voluntary or involuntary manslaughter resulting from the operation of an automobile;
- Driving under the influence;
- Any felony in the commission of which a motor vehicle is used;
- Failing to stop and render aid as required by law; or
- Driving a commercial vehicle with a suspended license.
A person may also be identified as a habitual offender if he or she has fifteen convictions for traffic offenses for which points may be assessed by an insurance provider.Defenses
The following defenses may be available against a charge of driving with a suspended license:
- Illegal stop;
- No knowledge of suspension; or
- The license was reinstated, or the driver had adequate reason to believe that it was.
If you have been charged with driving with a suspended license, an attorney can help you organize a defense and make sure you are not unjustly convicted. Please contact West Palm Beach criminal defense attorney William Wallshein for a free consultation.