Driving on a Suspended License
Many of our clients lose their licenses, for one reason or another. This creates an enormous inconvenience. People rely on their vehicles to get to them to school, work, and the grocery store. Without the ability to drive, many people have to rely on public transportation, which isn’t ideal, to say the least. If you were planning on travelling any great distance to visit family for the holidays, now you can’t go anywhere.
Because of the inconvenience, many people are tempted to get behind the wheel anyway—suspended license or no suspended license. Chances are, they think they won’t get caught, or they aren’t afraid of the legal consequences. Actually, they are taking a huge risk, which carries some pretty severe penalties.
Penalties for Driving on a Suspended License
Getting caught for driving with a revoked, canceled, or suspended license is usually a misdemeanor, but it can be bumped up to a felony depending on whether this is your first or a subsequent offense:
If this is your first conviction, you are facing a second-degree misdemeanor
If this is your second conviction, you are facing a first-degree misdemeanor
If this is your third conviction (or more), you are facing a third-degree felony
The penalties are as follows:
- Second-degree misdemeanor: up to 60 days in jail and a $500 fine
- First-degree misdemeanor: up to one year in prison and a $1,000 fine
- Third-degree felony: up to 5 years in prison and a $5,000 fine
Furthermore, getting a felony conviction carries collateral consequences, such as losing your right to vote and the ability to own a firearm in Florida. Your criminal record will also show up if you try to rent an apartment or apply for a job, which can make landing on your feet after you get out of jail that much harder.
It is hard to defend against this offense. However, we must note that the statute requires that you know that your license has been suspended, revoked, or cancelled in order to be convicted. This knowledge element is required, which means you have a defense if you really had no idea your license was suspended. According to the statute, the state can prove knowledge using the following:
- You admit to knowing your license was suspended, canceled, or revoked
- You have previously been cited for driving on a suspended license
If a judgment or order of suspension appears in the department’s records, then there is a rebuttable presumption that you have knowledge that you should not be driving. A “rebuttable presumption” means that you must present evidence that you lacked knowledge of your suspension; if you don’t, then the state has proved that element.
If you truly lacked knowledge, then under the statute you can be guilty of only a moving offense, which would be much preferable to a misdemeanor or felony.
Criminal Defense You Can Trust
If you have been picked up for driving on a suspended license, you need to start building your defense right away. Call Bundza & Rodriguez today. Our Daytona Beach criminal defense attorneys can analyze your case and try to punch holes in the state’s case.
Reach out today by calling 386-252-5170. Avoid delay.