Driving on a Suspended License

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San Diego Driving on a Suspended License Attorney

San Diego Driving on a Suspended License AttorneyIf you have been arrested for driving on a suspended license you should contact an experienced criminal defense attorney. Just because you have been arrested does not mean that you will be charged or convicted of a crime. Hiring an attorney to handle your case will increase your chances of successfully fighting the criminal charges you face.

Attorney Vikas Bajaj believes in the power of an aggressive pre-investigation process. Mr. Bajaj will attack the criminal charges against you from the moment you hire him. He’ll fight to have the charges reduced to lesser offense or dismissed altogether. The sooner you hire an attorney to defend you, the less time the prosecution will have to build a case against you. Contact the Law Office of Vikas Bajaj, APC today to schedule a free consultation. Find how he can help to limit any harmful consequences of a conviction for driving on a suspended license.

Knowingly Operating a Vehicle When Your License Has Been Suspended or Revoked

California Vehicle Code 14601 makes it a crime to operate a motor vehicle with the knowledge that your driver’s license has been suspended or revoked. If you are charged with driving on a suspended license, the prosecutor handling your case will have to prove:

  1. You drove a motor vehicle while your license was suspended or revoked; and
  1. You knew that your license was suspended or revoked at that time.

A conviction for driving on a suspended license generally depends on whether or not a finder of fact (judge or jury) believes that you had knowledge of the suspension. A California prosecutor can establish a presumption of knowledge by proving:

  1. The California DMV mailed you a notice to tell you that your driver’s license had been suspended or revoked;
  1. The notice was mailed to most recent address you have reported to the DMV or a more recent address pursuant to court or law enforcement records; and
  1. The notice was not returned to the DMV as “undeliverable” or in another way that would indicate that you did not receive it.

So, you do not technically have to have actually known that your license was suspended or revoked to be found guilty of this crime. Instead, the prosecutor can establish a presumption that you knew about the suspension. A finder of fact (judge or jury) can conclude that you knew about the suspension if the prosecutor can establish beyond a reasonable doubt that the DMV followed these guidelines. Your defense attorney will fight to make the prosecution’s job as difficult as possible. This can include introducing evidence that

  1. contradicts the prosecution’s arguments, or
  2. casts doubt on the fact that you actually knew about the suspension.

Consequences of Driving on a Suspended License

Driving on a suspended license is a misdemeanor offense in California. However, the penalties for driving on a suspended license can range from small monetary fines to mandatory sentences of imprisonment in county jail. The reason your license was suspended in the first place will generally dictate which specific section of the California Vehicle Code you will be charged under.

Reckless Driving, Physical or Mental Disability, or Negligent Operator Status

In California, you may not operate a motor vehicle when you know that your license has been suspended because of reckless driving, designation as a negligent operator after accumulating multiple points, or due to a physical or mental disability. [Vehicle Code 14601 VC]

A first-time offender will face no less than 5 days and no more than 6 months in a California county jail. Subsequent offenders will face no less than 10 days and no more than one year in California county jail.

Driving Under the Influence and Related Offenses

In California, you may not operate a motor vehicle when you know that your license has been suspended because of a conviction for driving under the influence (DUI) or a related DUI offense.  [Vehicle Code 14601.2 VC]

A first-time offender will face no less than 10 days and no more than 6 months in a California county jail. Subsequent offenders will face no less than 30 days and no more than one year in a California county jail.

Habitual Traffic Offenders

In California, you can face steep fines and terms of imprisonment in a California county jail if you repeatedly drive on a suspended license. It is also a crime to operate a motor vehicle in violation of the terms and conditions of your restricted license.  [Vehicle Code 14601.3 VC]

A first-time offender will face no less than 10 days and no more than 6 months in a California county jail. Subsequent offenders will face no less than 30 days and no more than 6 months in a California county jail.

Refusing to Submit to Chemical Testing on Suspicion of a DUI

In California, you may not operate a motor vehicle when you know that your license has been suspended because you refused to submit to chemical testing when you were suspected of driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.  [Vehicle Code 14601.5 VC]

A first-time offender can face up to 6 months in a California county jail. Subsequent offenders will face no less than 10 days and no more than one year in a California county jail.

Any Other License Suspensions

California has the authority to suspend, revoke, or refuse to issue a driver’s license. If you operate a motor vehicle with the knowledge that your driving privileges have been suspended you can be charged with a crime, regardless of the underlying cause for your suspension. If the grounds for your suspension is not specifically stated in a California Vehicle Code Section you can face up to 6 months in a California county jail.  [Vehicle Code 14601.1 VC]

Additional consequences for driving on a suspended license in California can include:

  1. Mandatory minimum fines of no less than $300 for a first-time offense and $500 for subsequent offenses;
  1. Maximum monetary fines of no greater than $1,000 for a first-time offense and $2,000 for subsequent offenses;
  1. Permanent revocation of California driving privileges; and/or
  1. Mandatory installation of an Ignition Interlock Device on any vehicle you own or operate.

Defending Charges of Driving on a Suspended License

There are situations when an arrest for driving on a suspended license will not result in formal criminal charges or a criminal conviction. Potential defenses to driving on a suspended license can include:

  • Improper notice of suspension;
  • Invalid suspension;
  • Unlawful search and seizure;
  • Unlawful arrest;
  • Actual innocence; or
  • Lawfully driving on a restricted (rather than suspended) license.

Most driving on a suspended license cases boil down to knowledge. The prosecutor will try to establish that the state took the appropriate steps to notify you of the suspension. If the prosecution is successful the finder of fact can conclusively presume that you knew about the suspension – even if you didn’t.

However, the finder of fact is not required to conclude that you had knowledge. An experienced attorney will introduce evidence and information to establish that:

  • you had no knowledge of the suspension or
  • the DMV failed to follow the proper steps to notify you. 

Any information that will contradict – or cast doubt on – the prosecution’s case will be helpful in your defense.

Experienced San Diego Suspended License Attorney

If you have been arrested for driving on a suspended license you should not hesitate to contact an experienced San Diego suspended license attorney. While driving on a suspended license may not seem like a big deal the criminal consequences can be serious. Hiring an attorney to defend you is the best way to limit any detrimental effects of an arrest.

Over the past 16 years, Vikas Bajaj has defended thousands of clients against a variety of criminal charges.. He understands the power of an aggressive pre-investigation defense and will immediately begin to attack the prosecution’s case against you. Contact his San Diego office today to schedule your free consultation.

During your consultation, Mr. Bajaj will

  • Review your case,
  • Determine potential lines of defense, and
  • Answer any questions you may have.

The sooner you call, the sooner we can begin to attack the prosecution’s case against you.