Driving While License Suspended
Often, people plead guilty to driving on a suspended license without knowing what the consequences are. Driving on a suspended license is a crime, and being convicted can result in having a criminal record. You face the possibility of jail time and a fine, and in the future, your sentence could be worse because you have a prior conviction. If you are charged with driving on a suspended license in Florida, Tampa traffic violation lawyer Will Hanlon is ready to help. He is committed to protecting the rights of the accused and can also represent you if you are facing a DUI charge.Driving on a Suspended License
The Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles in Florida may suspend your license for a wide array of reasons, including having too many points, a DUI arrest or conviction, drug-related convictions, a failure to maintain insurance, refusing to submit to DUI chemical testing, child support delinquency, or a failure to appear in court.
Under Florida Statutes section 322.34, you can be charged for driving on a suspended license if your driver's license or driving privilege has been canceled, revoked, or suspended, and you drove on a highway of the state while it was suspended, canceled, or revoked. Driving on a suspended license is a moving violation.
If the prosecutor also shows that you knew of the cancelation, suspension, or revocation, you can be convicted of a misdemeanor of the second degree. This means that you could face 60 days in jail and $500 in fines. The prosecutor can show knowledge if you have previously been cited, if you have admitted to knowing about it, or if you have received proper notice of the suspension. There is a rebuttable presumption that you knew if there is an order or judgment in the department records, except one involving a suspension for failing to pay a traffic fine or for violating the rules related to financial responsibility.
If you are convicted a second time, it is a misdemeanor of the first degree. This means that you could face up to one year in jail. If you are convicted a third or subsequent time, it is a felony of the third degree. This means that you could face up to five years’ imprisonment and up to a $5,000 fine. When three offenses happen in a five-year period, you are considered a habitual traffic offender. Habitual traffic offenders are people whose record shows an accumulation of a certain number of convictions from certain offenses like driving while a license is suspended or revoked, voluntary manslaughter, or 15 convictions for moving traffic offenses. This means that your license is revoked for five years, and you cannot get a hardship license until after a whole year has passed from the most recent conviction. For people who need to go to a job and cannot use public transportation, being labeled a habitual offender can be crippling.
It is far from inevitable that you will be convicted. You may be able to minimize your penalties or even defeat the charge with the help of an experienced attorney. Some common defenses include not knowing about the suspension, not driving on a public highway, the vehicle not counting as a motor vehicle, or vacating prior convictions so that the prosecutor changes the charge to a no valid driver's license charge. In some cases, there may be ways to negotiate with the prosecutor to simply get a civil citation, such as when you have no criminal record and a minimal driving record, or when you get a valid license before entering a plea.Get Help from an Experienced Tampa Attorney for Your License Suspension Charge
If you are charged with driving while your license is suspended, the situation may be more serious than you think. It is not a civil citation but a criminal charge, and accumulating these charges could result in getting habitual offender status and prison time. You should not delay in retaining a Tampa attorney to fight for you. Our founder, Will Hanlon, has provided a strong, aggressive defense to people accused of motor vehicle offenses since 1994. He provides his clients with responsive and personalized representation. Call Hanlon Law at 813-228-7095 or use our online form to set up an appointment if you need a DWLS or reckless driving lawyer.