Driving with a revoked or suspended license in Florida is considered a criminal offense. Too often, unrepresented drivers plead guilty to suspended license charges without being fully aware of how severe the penalties could be. Worst cases can mean long-term negative consequences on your driving privileges and criminal record.
Driving with a suspended driver’s license is a severe offense. You must understand the possible punishments you can face if convicted. Read on to know more.
Is Driving With A Suspended License A Big Deal In Florida?
Florida has some of the busiest highways and roads in the country. For most of its residents, having a car is necessary. Whether commuting to work, running an errand, or going to appointments, cars and vehicles make traveling much more manageable. This is why having your license suspended is incredibly frustrating.
A driver’s license suspension can hinder your ability to handle your day-to-day commitments and responsibilities. It can also impact critical aspects of your life in ways you couldn’t even imagine.
To further compound the situation, getting caught with a suspended license can make you face possible jail time with high fines. Under Florida’s law, driving with a revoked driver’s license is a severe criminal offense. Unfortunately, most drivers don’t take it seriously.
If a police officer catches you driving with a suspended license, you will probably be arrested. Impounding your vehicle or car is the only option if no one can drive it. Expect to be responsible for the fees if that were the case.
The prosecutor will likely issue you with any of the following criminal charges:
- Class A misdemeanor for 1st, 2nd, or 3rd offense
- Class B misdemeanor for 1st, 2nd, or 3rd offense
Note that these are all legitimate criminal allegations and not just traffic tickets. Getting convicted will make you face some severe consequences and penalties.
What Can Cause the Suspension of a Florida Driver’s License?
Various legal reasons can prompt the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles to revoke or suspend a driver’s license in the State of Florida.
Typical examples can include:
- Child support delinquency
- Drug-related convictions and arrests
- DUI arrest or conviction
- Points Suspension
- Habitual traffic offender classification
- DUI refusal
- Failure to maintain continuous insurance
- Failure to pay court judgments, fines, or court costs
- Petty theft convictions
- Failure to make a court appearance
What Are The Penalties For Driving With A Suspended License
Under Florida Statute §322.34, if you are caught driving with a revoked driver’s license for the first time while you are aware of the suspension or cancellation, you can be sentenced to up to 2 months in prison. A first-time offense can also attract a high fine of up to $500.
Second-time offenders can be charged with a first-degree misdemeanor offense. It can give you a sentence of up to 12 months in jail.
The third offense can lead to a charge of felony with a minimum of 5 years of jail time. It can also carry an additional hefty fine of $5,000.
In most cases, you can apply for a hardship license even after a conviction. This can grant you restricted driving privileges to travel to school or work during your suspension period.
If you are charged the third time within five years, the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles will undoubtedly mark you as a Habitual Traffic Offender (HTO). Having an HTO status can lead to license suspension for another five years.
Furthermore, an HTO status also does not make you eligible for a hardship license until a year from when your license was last suspended.
What If You Get Caught Driving With A Suspended License?
If an officer asks you to pull over, you must stop your vehicle and follow their instructions. Be polite with responding and give them your driver’s license, insurance information, and vehicle registration when they request it.
Avoid making statements. You will undoubtedly damage your case if you confirm that you are aware of your license suspension or revocation. It is best to call up a lawyer immediately.
Having a criminal defense lawyer by your side can help strengthen your case. It will help you avoid thoughtlessly pleading guilty, facing severe penalties, and entering a plea deal with unintended consequences.
What Are The Defenses Of Driving with a Suspended License?
Fortunately, many strategies and defenses are available to counter a suspended license charge or reduce the potential penalties.
For example, a lawyer can argue that:
- The accused was not driving on a busy or public highway.
- The accused was not driving.
- The accused was not aware of the cancellation, suspension, or revocation of their license.
- The vehicle is not considered a motor vehicle under the driver’s license statute.
- The traffic stop was invalid.
- The accused’s license revocation has been reinstated, or adequate reason existed to believe that it has been reinstated.
Suppose there are no possible or viable defenses available. In that case, your defense lawyer can negotiate with the prosecution to have the charge classified or amended to No Valid Florida Driver’s License or civil citation (failure to display). These cases often occur when there is a minimal driving record or a person obtains a valid driver’s license before taking the plea bargain or trial.
A charge amendment gradually lessens the penalties and consequences if a person has been convicted of driving with a revoked license. If the amendment is not plausible, your lawyer can seek ways to minimize the penalties to avoid probation, jail time, and debilitating fines.
Speak To A Criminal Defense Attorney
A revoked or suspended driver’s license can bring many burdens and frustrations. Being caught driving, in this case, can lead to severe legal penalties.
Many tend not to take this kind of case seriously — a massive mistake as it can lead to long-term consequences. If you’re charged for driving with a suspended license, you must have suitable defense representation to prevent severe convictions.
An experienced and skilled criminal defense attorney can help you achieve the best possible outcome in your case. If you’ve been charged with a driving-related offense and are in need of help, contact our attorneys at Hanlon Law Sarasota today to schedule an appointment.
You can give us a call, and we’ll set up a free consultation to go over the next steps.
1605 Main St Ste 1115
Sarasota, FL 34236