California Vehicle Code Section 14601
For the past twenty-five years I have been defending people related to driving on a suspended license all over Los Angeles County. These cases are very serious to people because they can cause you to lose your license for a longer period of time if you have already had it lost or it can make it very difficult to get your license in the future. Also, you don't want to have a misdemeanor on your record if you could avoid it and you don't want to have to deal with the punishment that comes along with these driving while suspended license cases.
So, really the biggest thing that I have clients do is, we try to figure out how they can get their license – when they can get their license. In other words, what's the roadblock to getting your driver's license? Because I found that if we can get the driver's license, the judges and prosecutors will be very reasonable when it comes to resolving the case. A lot of times we're able to avoid a conviction for a misdemeanor. We can get an infraction instead. We can avoid any jail time and we could really get it taken care of and eventually get it expunged off the record.
Why was Your License Suspended?
One big thing they're looking at in the courts when it comes to driving on a suspended license case is, why was your license suspended. The more serious the reason your license was suspended, the more difficult it will be to avoid a criminal conviction and to avoid more harsh penalties. If, on the other hand, your license was suspended because you didn't pay a ticket or something and you can just pay that ticket and get it back, that would obviously be a situation where we can probably get an infraction and eventually get the case dismissed.
A lot of times people can get their license back from the DMV when it gets taken away. All they have to do is turn in some paperwork or pay some fee and they just forget to do it or they just are too lazy to do it and then they get hit with one of these cases and we can show the prosecutor they could have had their license, but for them just not getting it. In these circumstances, obviously we're going to be able to get a very good result for the client because the courts, the prosecutors and the police, all have an incentive for people to have their license.
They want people to have a license, insurance and be driving around legally. So, if you can show them that you're able to do that, then they're going to obviously be much easier to deal with and you're going to get a much better result.
DUI or Reckless Driving
If you have a driving on a suspended license case related to a DUI or some other serious reason – some sort of points built up or reckless driving – that's when the prosecutors and judge are going to be thinking that they want to punish you severely, put you on probation, maybe even send you to jail for a period of time in order to teach you a lesson so you do not engage in dangerous driving, and so that you obey the rules of the road and do not drive with a suspended license.
Sometimes these cases are over-inflated and they look a lot more serious than they are and obviously this is where you're going to need a good criminal defense attorney to come in who's used to dealing with a California Vehicle Code Section 14601 violation – driving under a suspended license cases – and knows the ins and outs of these cases and knows how to get you a result so that you could either get the case expunged, get it dismissed, get it moved down to an infraction – there's all sorts of different things that can be done depending on the circumstances of the case.
Legal Defenses for Driving On A Suspended License
One of the best defenses to a driving on a suspended license case is, I didn't know that my license was suspended. One of the elements that the prosecutors and the police have to prove to a judge is that you actually had notice of the suspension. The best notice you can get is if the court tells you in court – hey, your license is suspended. Don't drive on it anymore or you're going to get in trouble.
The second best way is if they hit you with a certified letter and they can prove it was served on you from the DMV or the court or somewhere else, saying that your license is suspended. Obviously, then you had knowledge and you can't drive on a suspended license. A lot of time what I see though, is that the DMV is just sending information to people – either they're sending it to a wrong address or the person is simply not getting it and they don't know that their license is suspended.
This potentially could be a complete defense to a driving on a suspended license case. So, the type of service they give you and how they let you know that your license is suspended is obviously important. There's a myriad of other ways that you can make an argument that you didn't know your license was suspended and be able to defend the case. It really just kind of depends on the facts and circumstances of your case.
What I do on these driving on a suspended license case is, I get the client in, we go over everything, they give me all the details and they're clear and specific about exactly what happened and why their license is suspended and whether they knew, and we talk about also what can be done to get the license back, and then we get a game plan together so that we can get you the best possible result and set things up so that you can eventually clear your record and be able to move on with your life. So, it's important that we sit down face to face, go over everything, get the strategy together and then we can avoid some of the more harsh consequences that can come when you have this type of offense.