Driving with a suspended or revoked license can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony depending on your past driving record and what happened to bring you to the officer's attention at the time of the stop. A driving while suspended or revoked conviction always results in a license suspension to begin after your current suspension. Even a first offense can sometimes leave you spending a few days in the local county jail. Some subsequent offenses have mandatory minimum jail sentences that do not qualify for “good time” credit. These harsh penalties are in addition to significant fines.
If you've been charged with driving while suspended or revoked, you will need the assistance of an attorney in court. Call Jen Raimo today at (703) 591-4868 to schedule a free consultation or click here to download a free report Jen wrote about driving while suspended charges. You will learn what to expect in court and form a strategy to minimize the risk of conviction and incarceration.
You must have legal notice your license is suspended in order to be convicted of driving while suspended or revoked.
The short answer is that you can't be convicted of driving with a suspended or revoked license if you didn't know it was suspended in the first place. This tends to happen when a person does not tell the DMV she's moved. The DMV suspends the person for some reason and mails a notice to the driver by certified mail. However, the notice is undeliverable and gets returned to the DMV.
Sometimes, a suspended driver has legal notice but doesn't realize it when he's stopped by the police. Probably the most common way this happens is after a criminal or traffic court case where the defendant does not pay a fine or court costs on time. When a person cannot pay court costs on the day of court, the person is often required to sign a paper in two places. The person isn't really given a chance to read it. They're just handed the paper and a pen and told “sign here and here.” Then the person leaves and forgets all about it. But, the paper tells the person how much he owes for the fine and court costs and advises him his license will automatically be suspended if he does not pay in full by a certain date. That signature on the form is considered legal notice that the license is suspended. If that happened to you, you can be convicted of driving while suspended. The two best things you can do to help get yourself out of trouble are to get your license back before court (even if it means postponing your court date) and bring a lawyer to court with you to defend you in court.
You do not need to have a Virginia license in order to be convicted of driving while suspended or revoked.
Sometimes, a person who has never had a driver's license is surprised to receive a ticket for driving while suspended or revoked. They question how a license can be suspended when there never was a license to begin with. Certain convictions like driving while intoxicated and all drug crimes require that a person's license be suspended. If they do not have a license or their license is from another state, the right to drive or apply for a Virginia license is suspended. Likewise, if a person cannot pay a ticket on time, Virginia DMV will automatically suspend the right to drive in Virginia or qualify for a Virginia driver's is suspended even if you don't have a Virginia driver's license.
If you are accused of driving while suspended, revoked, or after being declared a habitual offender, call us at (703) 591-4868 to schedule a free analysis of your legal problem.