According to the data by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System (NHTSA-FARS) database, many people are engaging in dangerous acts involving motor vehicles. The report further shows that the number of accidents and fatalities caused by unlicensed drivers is on the increase. The report showed that the majority of those involved in the road accidents had either, suspended license, revoked license, or expired license.
Driving on a suspended license is a crime in Los Angeles. If you are caught driving on a suspended license, you will be arrested and charged. Moreover, if you get involved in an accident on a suspended license, your actions will be charged as a felony with a possible revocation of your driver’s license.
At Los Angeles Criminal Lawyer, we always advocate for safety when it comes to driving. Which means we want you to follow the law by not driving on a suspended license. However, if in some way you got yourself into a mess by driving on a suspended license, we will provide you with the best defense.
Our attorneys will examine your case to find out why you have a suspended license. The reasons could be: convicted for DUI, you refused to take a chemical test, you failed to pay a traffic ticket, etc.
Meaning of Driving on a Suspended License Under California law
Driving with the knowledge of a suspended license is a crime, according to the California Vehicle Code 14601 VC. The offense is charged as a misdemeanor and carries hefty penalties such as jail term.
Arrest Process of Driving on a Suspended License
Arrest for driving on a suspended license occurs when a traffic police officer stops you. The purpose of the stop will be based on a probable cause such as over speeding or swerving
The officer will then ask for your license and registration, and if he finds out you have a suspended license; he/she will arrest you.
During the arrest process, the officer will read your Miranda rights, which are based on the fifth amendment. The reasons are meant to protect you from self-incrimination. These rights are:
- The right to remain silent
- If you choose to talk, whatever you say will be used against you in a court proceeding
- The right to have an attorney
- If you have no means of getting an attorney, the government will provide for you
The police can also frisk you during the arrest. The purpose of the frisking is to check whether you are concealing any weapons. From there, the officer will take you to the holding cell at the police station.
The officer may also choose not to arrest you but give you a citation release, which is a notice of your promise to show up in court. However, when he arrests you will be taken to the police station where the booking process will begin.
Booking involves taking the suspect's personal information, taking fingerprints, taking a suspect's mugshot, etc.
What the Prosecutors Have to Prove
In the court, the prosecutor must prove two elements to convince the judge and jury that you are indeed guilty of the crime. a) You were in the act of operating a motor vehicle, b) You had the knowledge that your license was suspended, but you choose to drive anyway.
For the DA to prove that you were operating a motor vehicle, he will need witness testimony which will be given by the arresting officer. To establish knowledge, the prosecutor must prove the existence of the following:
- The California Department of Motor Vehicles(DMV) sent you a notice that your license was suspended
- The notice was delivered to the most recent address that you had submitted
- The notice was returned to the DMV offices in case it failed to reach you
Under the California Vehicle Code 14601 VC, the following must happen to prove the suspect knew about the suspension of the driving license
- That at the time of the sentencing of a crime that led to your license suspension, the judge informed you that your license would be suspended
- That a police officer hand-delivered a notice informing you that your license was suspended
When the prosecutor proves all this, it will create a presumption that you were indeed aware that your license was suspended. The information may persuade the judge and jury that you are guilty of the crime.
For this reason, it is essential that your defense attorney argues the facts for you by providing defenses that will create a reasonable doubt and establish your innocence.
Possible Defenses in Driving on a Suspended License
Lack of information about the suspended license
The DA has to prove that you were aware that your license was suspended by establishing that DMV sent you a notice of your suspension. Your criminal lawyer can argue that the methods used to deliver the notice were improper and inaccurate. Therefore, you did not receive any information about your suspended license.
Illegal Suspension of Your License
For your license to be suspended, there must be a legal reason behind it. Therefore, your attorney will find out the situation that led to your license suspension. If the circumstances were illegal, such as suspension without a cause, you will have a good chance of winning the case.
Driving on Restricted License
In California, the court may decide to limit your driving privileges instead of entirely suspending your license. The limit will be operating from home to work or home to school.
Police cannot arrest you for driving on a restricted license within the area you are restricted to. Therefore, if police arrested you within the area you are allowed, then the case will be thrown out.
Illegal Arrest, Searches, and Seizures
Your constitutional rights must not be violated for whatever reason. Your lawyer will investigate whether your legal rights were violated. If your rights were violated, then any evidence collected is not is inadmissible before a court.
Penalties for Driving on a Suspended License in California
Driving on a suspended driver's license violates California Vehicle Code 14601. The particular punishments will vary depending on the offense that led to the suspension of your license.
DUI Offence Before Suspension
For first Time offense the punishments are:
- Probation: A person will get a punishment of up to three years
- Jail Term: You will be sentenced to between 10 to six months in county jail
- Fine: You will be fined between $300-$1000
For Second time offense the punishments are:
- Probation: You will get informal probation of up to three years
- Jail Term: A County jail lock-up of between 30 days to one year
- Fines: Fines will be between $500-$2000
If you were previously charged with felonies such as DUI with attempted manslaughter or multiple convictions of DUI, you would get the following penalties:
- Jail Term: You will be sentenced to 180 days in a county jail
- Fine: If convicted, you will be fined $2000
Suspension Due to Negligence, Reckless Driving, Incompetent Driving
- Jail Term: Five days to six months
- Probation: Probation can go up to three years
- Fine: This will between $300-$1000
- Probation: up to three years
- Jail Term: You will be locked up between ten days to one year in jail
- Fine: $500-$2000
Habitual Traffic Offender(HTO)
For a First Time offense the punishments include:
- Probation: A maximum of three years
- Jail Term: Up to 30 days in jail
- Fine: $1000
For second time offenses, the punishment is:
- Probation: A maximum of three years
- Jail Term: 180 days
- Fine: A $2000 fine
Suspension Due to Resisting a Chemical Test and a High Content of BAC
First Time Offense Include:
- Jail Term: Six months
- Probation: A maximum of three years
- Fine: $300 to $ 1000
Second Term offense, the punishments include:
- Probation: A maximum of three years
- Fine: $500 to$ 2000
- Jail Term: Ten days to one year
This is where a defendant makes a first court appearance. The arraignment happens after the prosecutor has formally charged a suspect with a crime. The judge will read your charges and ask you to make a plea. There are three types of pleas in a criminal case, a) guilty b) not guilty c) no contest.
- A guilty plea means you agree to commit the crimes charged against you.
- A not guilty plea means you deny committing the crimes charged against you.
- A no-contest plea means you neither deny nor accept the charges brought against you.
The judge also determines the issues of bail. Based on the judge's discretion, he may set the bond at a higher amount or lower it to a small amount.
During an arraignment, the judge will also set schedules for all the court hearing related to the case.
The Discovery Process
Discovery involves the gathering of evidence from both parties. It is meant to bring up information that was not previously known and also offer the defendant a fair chance in atrial.
Discovery usually takes place outside the courtroom but will involve the judge if the parties do not cooperate.
The prosecutor shares the evidence he/she plans to use against the suspect in a trial.
The evidence includes:
- Witness testimonies
- Evidence collected in a crime scene
- All the police reports beginning from the arrest and any DNA evidence
- Any expert witness the prosecutor intends to use
If there are reasons to believe that the prosecutor is withholding information, the judge will issue a warrant to compel the prosecutor to turn over the information.
If the DA feels there is enough to win the case, he/she may offer the defendant a plea deal to reduce the length of the sentence and also reduce.
A defendant may consult with his/her attorney on the plea deal. The defendant can then choose to plead guilty to avoid harsher penalties.
A guilty plea means the trial will not take place, and it's upon the judge to sentence the defendant.
If a defendant is held in jail, a preliminary hearing will take place 14 days after arraignment. If a defendant was released on bail, a preliminary hearing would be locked after 21 days.
A preliminary hearing is a form of trial where the judge determines whether there is enough evidence to go to trial. The DA will present evidence and witness testimonies before a judge. The defense attorney will then cross-examine the prosecutor's witness, but he/she does not object to the use of specific evidence.
Evidence that may not be allowed in a trial can be presented in a preliminary hearing.
Based on the evidence and witness testimonies, the judge will determine if there is enough to proceed to trial.
Pretrial motions are applications made to ask for a court's final decision about something. Pretrial motions can be initiated by either side.
The following are examples of typical pretrial motions:
- Motion to dismiss the case if there is no enough evidence to
- A motion to suppress certain types of evidence or witness testimonies
- A motion for a change of venue
A trial is an avenue where facts of the case are presented before a judge and jury.
The trial consists of the following events.
Choosing a Jury
Jury selection is conducted in court before a judge. The jury is selected for listening to the evidence and testimonies from both sides before coming up with the final determination. A jury selection is fair and just and does not discriminate on any basis
Opening statements are made by the defense and the prosecutor to give an overview of the case.
Witness Testimony and Cross Examinations
The prosecutor will begin by presenting and examining direct witnesses as a way of proving its cases against the defendant. The prosecutor can also present pieces of evidence during direct examination
After the prosecutor's direct investigation, the defense attorney can cross-examine the prosecutor's witnesses. The purpose of cross-examination is to create doubt about the credibility of the witness testimony.
The defense will also present its evidence and witness testimonies.
Closing Arguments are offered when both the prosecutor and the defense have presented all their evidence, witness testimony, and expert testimony.
It is a final chance for the defense and the prosecutor to convince the jury about the facts of the case.
Judge’s Instructions to the Jury About the Law
After the closing arguments, the judge will instruct the jury to follow the law and consider all the facts of the case. The judge will also educate them on what to do before coming up with a verdict.
The jury will deliberate on the facts of the case to decide if indeed, the defendant is guilty of the charges brought against him/her. When they all agree on the verdict, they will notify the judge.
The judge will read the jury's verdict in court. If the defendant were found guilty, he would be brought back in court after a few months for sentencing
The judge will take into consideration a lot of factors before sentencing the defendant. The elements can be whether the defendant has prior convictions, whether he/she is sorry and regrets his actions etc.
If the defendant is not happy with the court's ruling, he/she may appeal. An appeal provides an opportunity for the defendant to specify the errors in the trial and challenge the court’s verdict.
Charges Related to Driving On a Suspended License
Driving Without a License
According to California Vehicle Code Section 12500 VC, it is a crime to operate a motor vehicle without a license.
Driving with a Revoked License
The California Vehicle Code 14601 VC prohibits driving a vehicle with a revoked license. if caught, the penalties are hefty.
Driving Under the Influence of Drugs
California Vehicle Code 23152 prohibits driving when you are on the influence of drugs.
Driving Under the Influence DUI
California penal code 23152-23229 warns against operating a vehicle under the influence of either drugs or alcohol or a combination of the two.
It is wrong to drive a car if the blood alcohol content is over 0.08%.
The penalties for DUI are hefty, and it involves fines, jail term probation, etc.
Hit and Run
Hit and run is a serious offense in California.
According to Vehicle Code 20002 VC, you will be charged for a hit and run misdemeanor when there was: the destruction of property, you fled the scene and if you did not notify the people involved.
A hit and run felony is charged when the suspect hit and injured someone and fled from the scene.
Find a Los Angeles Criminal Lawyer Near Me
If you are arrested for driving on a suspended license, the prosecutor will use his power to prove that you committed a crime. Because of the many challenges provided by a prosecutor, you need a lawyer who won't back down from whatever problem that is presented against them in court. At Los Angeles Criminal Lawyer, we will offer you the best defense based on the specifics of your case. We will challenge the prosecutor's evidence and testimonies in a move to get you a dismissal or a reduction of the charges brought against you. You can easily reach our attorneys at 310-502-1314 for expert representation.