Driving with a suspended license is just one of several traffic violations that doubles as a criminal offense. Those who are caught driving while their licenses are suspended may face serious consequences, especially if they knew about the suspension before police stopped them and ran a license check. A charge of DWLS with knowledge will establish a criminal record, even if you’ve never violated the law before then.
If an officer arrests you for driving with a suspended license, working with a suspended license lawyer as quickly as possible could potentially mitigate the impact of that arrest and the ensuing charge. Otherwise, a conviction for a suspended license charge could lead to criminal and civil punishment that may change the course of your future.
Understanding a DWLS Charge
Driving with a license that’s been suspended is illegal. The State of Florida defines driving with a suspended, revoked, canceled, or disqualified license in section 322.34 of the 2018 Florida Statutes.
No Prior Knowledge of a License Suspension
The severity of your violation depends on whether you knew beforehand that your license was suspended. There are times when a driver’s license is suspended without their knowledge. This may occur when the DMV sends you a letter in the mail notifying you of the suspension.
If your address is not current, for example, the notice the DMV sends you might never reach your mailbox. When this happens, you likely won’t discover the suspension until you get pulled over for another violation. Driving with a suspended license that you didn’t know about is a civil infraction which may lead to a fine, which, if you pay it off, is an admission of guilt to the State of Florida.
Admitting the commission of a traffic infraction may lead to points against your license. If these points add up, your license may be suspended for an even lengthier period, and you could face increased insurance payments as these points show auto insurance companies you’re a high-risk driver.
Prior Knowledge of the License Suspension
In many cases, people know their licenses have been suspended and have chosen to drive regardless, for a variety of reasons. Those who make this risky decision commit a second-degree misdemeanor offense. A conviction for DWLS with knowledge thus brings more severe penalties than a mere traffic violation.
Penalties for DWLS with Knowledge
Criminal penalties for driving with a suspended license with knowledge include:
- A sentence of up to 60 days in jail
- A fine of up to $500
The above penalties are the maximum criminal penalties a person convicted for DWLS for the first time may face.
A second offense of DWLS with knowledge is a first-degree misdemeanor offense, meaning that the penalties may include:
- A period of up to one year in jail
- A fine of up to $1,000
A third offense is a felony that may lead to a period of up to five years in a state prison and a fine of up to $5,000. Repeated convictions may mark you as a habitual traffic offender resulting in a five-year revocation of your driver’s license.
Civil penalties for driving with a suspended license with knowledge may lead to:
- An extension of the suspension period
- Vehicle impoundment
- Administrative fees
- Revocation of your driver’s license upon a third or subsequent conviction (permanent cancellation of your driving privilege)
Address Traffic Violations in West Palm Beach Immediately
The sooner you address your traffic violations, the better your chances are at having the charges reduced or dismissed. An attorney can also help you keep a clean driving record, which will go a long way toward staying away from points that could lead to a license suspension.
If you’ve been charged with driving with a suspended license with knowledge, an attorney like Brian P. Gabriel can help you fight the charge and mitigate the impact it will have on your life. While driving with a suspended license without knowledge is a civil infraction, Mr. Gabriel can also fight your traffic ticket so you do not accumulate points for the violation by paying a fine.
Discover how the Law Office of Gabriel & Gabriel can help you resolve your traffic issues in West Palm Beach by calling us at 561-622-5575 for a free consultation or completing our contact form. We have more than 25 years of experience helping people in situations like yours get a fresh start.