Orange County Criminal Defense
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Driving on a Suspended License Attorney in Newport Beach

What Happens If You Drive on a Suspended Driver’s License in Orange County?

California Vehicle Code section 14601 prohibits driving on a suspended license. Violating this law is a misdemeanor and automatically adds two points to your DMV driving record. There are different subsections of this law and each subsection corresponds to a different reason as to why your license was suspended. The penalties for driving on a suspended license depend on the section and whether you have prior suspended license convictions within the past five years. A first offense for violation of driving on a suspended license always carries a maximum penalty of 6 months jail and a second offense for driving on a suspended license always carries a maximum of one year jail. The description of each type of driving on a suspended license and the minimum penalties for each section of driving on a suspended license are shown below:

California Vehicle Code section 14601(a) applies when a person’s driver’s license is suspended for reckless driving or being a negligent operator (too many points on their driving record):

  • First offense – 5 days jail minimum

  • Second offense — 10 days jail minimum

California Vehicle Code section 14601.1 applies when a person’s driver’s license is suspended because of unpaid parking tickets, failing to appear for traffic court or nonpayment of child support:

  • First offense — no minimum

  • Second offense — 5 days jail minimum

California Vehicle Code section 14601.2 applies when a person’s driver’s license is suspended because of a DUI conviction:

  • First offense — 10 days jail minimum

  • Second offense — 30 days jail minimum

California Vehicle Code section 14601.5 applies when a person’s driver’s license is suspended because of a DUI arrest, chemical test refusal or under-21 DUI:

  • First offense – no minimum, but many prosecutors will recommend at least 5 days jail

  • Second offense — 10 days jail minimum

Driving Without a Valid License

California Vehicle Code section 12500(a) prohibits driving without a valid license. This charge is different from driving on a suspended license. It applies to people who either have a license, but didn’t have it with them while driving, or to people who have an out-of-state driver’s license, or people who never got a driver’s license in the first place. Vehicle Code section 12500(a) is always a misdemeanor and it doesn’t involve any DMV points. It is possible to get a driving on a suspended license reduced to a 12500(a), but it depends on the circumstances. Most prosecutors will only allow a 14601.1 to be reduced to a 12500(a), and only then if the defendant has removed the suspension on his license, there are no prior convictions for driving on a suspended license and the defendant has a relatively good driving history.

License Suspension for Certain Crimes

There are certain types of crimes whereby a conviction may or shall result in a driver’s license conviction. These crimes include vandalism and drug offenses.

Vandalism

California Vehicle Code section 13202.6(a) requires a driver’s license suspension for up to two years for any person who is convicted of a violation of Penal Code section 594, 594.3 or 594.4. A person is anybody who is 13 years of age or older. For those defendants that don’t already have a license, the court can delay the time for which a defendant becomes eligible for their license. The court can make a hardship exception for defendants who need a driver’s license for employment, school or medical-related purposes for themselves or a family member. This suspension can be shortened in exchange for the defendant performing community service.

Drug Offenses

California Vehicle Code section 13202(a) allows a court to suspend or revoke a driver’s license of any defendant convicted of any drug crime as defined by Division 10 of the Health and Safety Code when that offense relates to the use of a motor vehicle. California Vehicle Code section 13202(b) requires the court to revoke the driver’s license of any defendant convicted of Health and Safety Code sections 11350, 11351, 11352, 11353, 11359, 11360 or 11361 when the offense relates to the use of a motor vehicle. The amount of suspension is determined by the court, but cannot exceed three years.

Other Consequences

Driving on a suspended license probably won’t have a drastic impact on employment, professional licensing or immigration consequences, but it can have an indirect impact on employment. If you are caught driving on a suspended license, then not only will there be an additional two points on your driving record, but your original driver’s license suspension may be extended. Since most people in Southern California have to drive for work, and there are no reasonable forms of public transportation, a suspended driver’s license can have an enormous impact on a person’s ability to work.

The Right Lawyer

Choosing the right criminal defense lawyer will be the most important decision someone can make when facing a driving on a suspended license charge. Many people who face the charge of driving on a suspended driver’s license are good people who made a mistake or exercised poor judgment. There are also some people who have been wrongfully accused of driving on a suspended license, based on a misunderstanding or false evidence. Our attorneys will listen to your side of the story carefully, who will evaluate the evidence thoroughly. As former prosecutors we have the skills to negotiate with our former colleagues and the trial experience necessary to get the best results for our clients. For an example of our work, please see our case results and read our client testimonials.

Call us at (949) 570-5232 today to request a free case evaluation.

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