Facing a driving with a revoked or suspended license charge is severe enough. The punishment becomes worse if your driving results in another person sustaining an injury. Also, a conviction may lead to limited driving privileges, hefty fines, and possible incarceration. The penalties can also affect your life, like future job potentials and current employment. You may also lose negotiating power as far as attaining future auto insurance is concerned.
It's not wise to fight these criminal charges alone. Hiring an experienced criminal defense lawyer to fight for your rights is the ideal decision. Doing so will make a significant difference between the maximum and standard penalties. At Los Angeles Criminal Lawyer, we will walk with you throughout the criminal process. We will thoroughly review the facts surrounding your case then build a defense strategy that will yield the best possible outcome.
The Legal Meaning of Driving with a Suspended or Revoked License Causing Injury
In California, it is an offense to drive a vehicle with a suspended or revoked license due to driving while intoxicated and, while doing so, cause injury upon someone else. Vehicle Code (VC) 14601.4 is the law that describes this crime. Per this Vehicle Code, the prosecution must demonstrate four elements to prove you are guilty of this offense. These elements are you:
- Drove an auto. Operating a vehicle includes driving a motorcycle, vehicle, or other motorized automobiles. Whether you cover a long or short distance does not count.
- Drove even after your privilege to drive had been revoked or suspended in the past due to a DUI conviction (Vehicle Code 23152) or DUI injury (Vehicle Code 23153).
- Were aware that your privilege to drive has been revoked or suspended. The DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles) is in charge of notifying you if your license has been suspended. It mails you the notice to your last known or current email address If the notice is not returned to the department, it is safely presumed you received it. Therefore, it is assumed you knew your license had been revoked or suspended if the DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles) mailed you notice of the revocation or suspension.
- Violated a lawful duty or committed an unlawful deed, and consequently, you inflicted bodily injury upon someone else. Violating your lawful duty or committing an illegal act means you did not operate the vehicle responsibly and thus made someone else sustain an injury or injuries.
Penalties for Violating VC 14601.4
If you are arrested for violating 14601.4 VC, the prosecutor will press misdemeanor charges against you. A conviction for a first-time crime carries up to one thousand dollars in fines and a maximum jail sentence of six months. If you are convicted of a second offense within five years of the first crime, your punishment may include up to two thousand dollars in fines and a jail sentence of up to a year.
Even though a conviction under 14601.4 VC carries misdemeanor penalties, various sentencing enhancements exist. The sentence increments are based on how severe the bodily injuries inflicted are and how many victims were hurt. The prosecutor considers the number of hurt victims and whether they sustained great, major, or minor physical harm.
Based on the severity of the injuries, you may face an increased jail sentence, higher fines, prolonged probation period, and driver's license revocation for an indefinite period. You may also face steeper restitution requirements. You would be responsible for any lost wages, vehicle repair expenses, and medical bills the injured victim accrues due to your actions.
Defending Against 14601.4 VC Charges
If you are accused of operating a vehicle on a revoked or suspended license due to driving under the influence, you can contest the allegations against you by mounting a compelling defense strategy. Mounting a solid defense may result in the judge reducing or even dismissing the charges. However, you want to hire an experienced criminal defense lawyer to help you argue the legal defenses and increase your chances of obtaining the best possible outcome. Common legal defense strategies to a Vehicle Code 14601.4 violation charge include:
No Past DUI Conviction
Vehicle Code 14601.4 criminalizes operating an auto on a revoked or suspended license only if you have been previously found guilty of either DUI injury or standard DUI. You could prove your innocence by demonstrating that you were never convicted of a VC 23153 or VC 23152 violation. If your driver's license was revoked or suspended due to multiple traffic tickets for non-DUI-related moving violations, the prosecution could not charge you with a Vehicle Code 14601.4 violation. However, remember that even if you do not have a past conviction, the judge could still find you guilty of operating a vehicle with a revoked or suspended license under 14601.4 VC.
You Did Not Neglect Your Duty or Commit an Illegal Act
You are only guilty of violating 14601.4 VC if you neglect a lawful duty or commit an unlawful act when behind the wheel. Thus, it is a valid defense to prove that whereas you may have inflicted injury upon someone else in a road crash, the injury was not due to your wrongful deeds. For instance, you can argue that another driver’s unlawful actions led to the injury.
You Did Not Know Your License Was Revoked or Suspended
Note that you have to be aware that your driving privilege was revoked or suspended to be convicted under 14601.4 VC. If you did not know, you could argue this legal defense. But a critical detail you have to understand is that knowledge per this law is presumed. Therefore, if the Department of Motor Vehicles mailed you a revocation or suspension notice, the law assumes that you knew about the revocation or suspension. In line with this, showing that the Department of Motor Vehicles failed to mail you the applicable notice may help you prove your lack of knowledge.
You Were Not Operating a Vehicle
You are only guilty of violating 14601.4 VC if you were driving a vehicle. By this, it means the judge should not convict you simply for sitting in an auto. Provided the vehicle's engine was not running or does not show signs of being in use recently, you may avoid a conviction of operating a vehicle with a revoked or suspended driver’s license causing an injury.
Your License Was Not Suspended or Revoked Due to a DUI Conviction
The judge only convicts under 14601.4 VC to deal with motorists who drive an auto and cause injury after their driver's license is revoked or suspended due to a driving-while-intoxicated conviction. If your driver's license was revoked or suspended for some other reason, you might still be criminally liable, but the judge should not convict you under 14601.4 VC.
U.S citizens are protected from unreasonable and illegal search and seizure. The Fourth Amendment to the United States constitution provides this protection. The statute against unlawfully searching citizens applies to law enforcement officers at the federal and local levels. The Fourth Amendment provides that the police may not execute a search on a person or their property unless they have a judge-issued warrant or the search falls under the exceptions outlined and recognized by both state and federal courts.
This explanation means that if the law enforcement officer searched you or your vehicle without a valid search warrant before arresting you for violating VC 14601.4 or obtained proof against you illegally, you could argue this legal defense. The defense also applies if the police officer coerced a confession from you. Your lawyer can bring a motion to suppress the illegally obtained proof. If the motion is successful, the judge can exclude all the evidence obtained during the illegal search and seizure, which could eventually result in a charge dismissal or reduction.
Related Crimes to Vehicle Code 14601.4 Violation
Various crimes are related to VC 14601 violation, driving with a revoked or suspended license causing physical injury. These crimes are related because they share particular elements. They can be lesser included offenses or are more severe than VC 14601.4. This means they can be charged alongside or instead of VC 14601.4 violation. Related Crimes to VC 14601.4 include:
Felony Hit and Run (Hit and Run Causing Injury), Vehicle Code 20001
Under VC 20001, it is an offense for you to flee an auto accident scene where someone else has been killed or hurt. You could face charges under this law even if another motorist were entirely to blame for the crash. Violating VC 20001 is a wobbler crime. Wobblers are crimes that can be prosecuted either as felonies or misdemeanors. If charged with a misdemeanor, you will face up to ten thousand dollars in fines and incarceration in jail for a maximum of one year.
Reckless Driving, 23103 VC
VC 23103 is the law that prohibits reckless driving. Under 23103 VC, reckless driving refers to driving with wanton disregard for property or people's safety. If nobody else other than you is hurt during the commission of the crime, 23103 VC is considered a misdemeanor. The punishment upon conviction may include a fine ranging from a hundred to forty-five dollars to one thousand dollars and five to ninety days in jail. But the potential fine and jail term increase if your reckless driving results in an injury. If the injury is minor, you will face up to a year in jail and a maximum fine of a thousand dollars. And if the injury was severe, you will face a maximum of three years in jail and a fine not exceeding ten thousand dollars. Also, any conviction under this law will add two points to your DMV record.
Driving with a Revoked or Suspended License, Vehicle Code 14601.1
VC 14601.1 makes it an offense for you to operate your vehicle when you know that your driving privileges have been revoked or suspended. Like under 14601.4 VC, you are presumed to have known that your privilege to drive was revoked or suspended if the Department of Motor Vehicles mailed you a notice of revocation or suspension. Operating a vehicle when your license is revoked or suspended is considered a misdemeanor. If it is your first offense, a conviction will be punishable by up to one thousand dollars in fines, incarceration in jail for a maximum of six months, and informal probation for a maximum of three years. If it is your second offense within five years of the first conviction, you can face up to a 2,000 dollars fine and incarceration in jail for a maximum of one year.
Remember that the victim in question could also file a personal injury suit against you if you were at fault for the crash. Based on the facts of your case, you might be responsible for property damage and severe and minor injuries.
Failing to Present a License to Drive, VC 12951
Under California statute, you must have a license to drive with you anytime you operate an automobile. Not having or refusing to show it to the officer during a regular traffic stop and check is an offense. This is a wobblette crime. A wobblete is a crime that can be prosecuted either as a misdemeanor or infraction. If convicted of an infraction, you will face a maximum of $250 in fines. A misdemeanor conviction is punishable by informal probation, a maximum fine of a thousand dollars, and a jail sentence that does not exceed six months.
DUI Causing Injury, VC 23153
Operating an auto while intoxicated with alcohol and leading to someone else suffering an injury is an offense penalized harshly. This crime is a wobbler. A misdemeanor is punishable by up to a year in jail, summary probation for a period ranging between three and five years, a fine of up to 5,000 dollars, three, nine, eighteen, or thirty months of DUI school, restitution to the injured victims, and driver's license suspension for a maximum of three years. A felony conviction carries:
- Up to four years in prison,
- A maximum fine of $5,000,
- Between eighteen and thirty months of DUI school,
- An additional year in prison for every victim who sustained an injury,
- License suspension for up to five years,
- An additional maximum of six years in prison for every person that sustained significant bodily injury,
- Designation as a habitual traffic offender (HTO) for a maximum of three years, and
- A strike on your criminal record per the state's Three Strikes Law
Driving While Intoxicated With Alcohol, VC 23152 (a)
Operating an automobile while drunk is an offense under VC 23152(a). This is a misdemeanor crime punishable by informal probation for a period ranging between three and five years, a maximum of a year in jail, at least $390 in fines, DUI school enrollment, potential travel restrictions, and the suspension of driving privileges for six months.
Illegal Use of the Privilege to Drive, VC 14610
You commit this crime when you illegally use or permit someone else to illegally use a license to drive, by possessing a revoked or suspended license, declining to surrender the said license, lend out a motorist's license, or if you duplicate or change a license to drive. This offense is a misdemeanor punishable by summary probation, a fine not exceeding a thousand dollars, and a maximum jail sentence of six months.
Driving on a Suspended License License Due to DUI, Vehicle Code 14601.2
Driver’s licenses in California can be revoked or suspended for several reasons. In most scenarios, the suspension or revocation could be due to a DUI conviction. If you continue to drive an auto after your license is suspended due to a DUI conviction, you may be subject to further criminal charges under VC 14601.2. A violation of this law is a misdemeanor. A conviction for the first time carries a maximum fine of 1,000 dollars and a jail sentence of six months. A conviction for the second time within five years of the first offense carries a maximum fine of two thousand dollars and a jail sentence of a year. Instead of incarceration, the judge possesses the power to impose summary probation.
Find an Criminal Defense Lawyer Near Me
You should not allow 14601.4 VC violation charges or charges of any other related offense to overwhelm you. With expert legal counsel, you can challenge the charges and increase the odds of achieving favorable results for your case, like a case dismissal or charge reduction. Contact us, the Los Angeles Criminal Lawyer, if you need skilled legal representation. We boast award-winning defense attorneys who can offer exceptional legal counsel for anybody accused of driving on a revoked or suspended license causing injury or any of the related crimes. Acting swiftly and hiring a lawyer can significantly improve the outcome of your case. To schedule a free, confidential consultation and case evaluation, contact us at 310-502-1314.