The consequences are serious for being found guilty of driving on a suspended or revoked driver’s license in California. You could be arrested and detained, your can be immediately impounded and you face fines over $1000 and potential future incarceration.
However, the reasons you were driving on an alleged suspended or revoked license will be taken into consideration by the court. If your driver’s license was suspended due to failure to show up for a court date, or because you didn’t pay a court fine, it is not deemed as serious as if you were driving on a revoked license due to a prior DUI offense, negligent driving or were found in contempt of the law.
Driving on a suspended or revoked license is a serious situation and legal representation is a necessity. Fortunately, there are a few allowable exceptions in California that constitute a defense to driving on a revoked or suspended license.
One is lack of awareness. If you can prove that you did not know that your license was suspended then you have a legitimate reason. Perhaps the notice was sent to an old address, or the state can’t prove they sent it at all. Lack of notice is often a very useful defense in license suspension cases.
Another defense is that you were not driving. Just to be sitting in the driver’s seat of a car that is not moving, is not proof. Also, the license suspension must be active. Even though it is the motorist’s responsibility to go to the Department of Motor Vehicles, with proof of insurance, to restore driving privileges once a license suspension is over, a fine is paid, or the court order is satisfied, it still may be a legal defense.
It is up to the state of California to prove three things before they can convict you of driving on a suspended or revoked license:
1. That you indeed were driving, and
2. That it was a legitimate suspension or revocation, and
3. That you KNEW about the suspension or revocation.
If the prosecution cannot prove one of the above, the case is won by the defense. In addition, we often make use of additional creative strategies. In the end, most cases are resolved through negotiation with the prosecution for a deal that avoids jail time and minimizes penalties.