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Driving on a suspended license is a crime in California. Driving on a suspended license is punishable with jail time and high fines, and serious DMV consequences. Jail can be up to six months or one year, and, depending on your situation, may carry mandatory jail. However, occasionally, driving on a suspended license can be filed in court as an infraction, specifically California Vehicle Code section 14601.1(a). An infraction in Compton Courthouse removes the concerns with jail. Nevertheless, the fine may still be relatively high. Furthermore, an infraction still carries serious DMV consequences: two negligent operator points for seven years. Once the points are added to a DMV record and a Los Angeles driver’s auto insurance company takes notice, the insurance rates will go up significantly. Some insurance companies may even drop a driver or deny insurance.
There are different kinds of “driving on a suspended license” charges. However, the most common is probably CVC 14601.1(a) for driving a motor vehicle while the license is suspended or revoked for offenses not related to driving ability. This usually occurs for failure to appear on another case. For example, if a driver gets a speeding ticket in Compton, but fails to appear in Compton Traffic Court by the due date on the bottom of the speeding ticket, the Compton Court Clerk will notify the DMV of the failure to appear. The California Department of Motor Vehicles will then eventually suspended the California Drivers License of the licensee. If, subsequently, the licensee/driver is pulled over for any reason in the South Bay by a Torrance Police officer, then the driver will be charged with driving on a suspended license filed at the Southwest District Court by the Torrance City Attorney’s Office. (The driver should still resolve the Compton Courthouse speeding ticket immediately, the case with the CVC 40508 and 40509.5 failure to appear that caused the suspension.)
The other extremely common driving on a suspended license charge is 14601.2(a) for driving on a suspended license due to a DUI. This usually occurs when a driver fails to provided proper proof of completion of a post-DUI-conviction alcohol program or fails to pay the mandatory license re-issue fee to the DMV even after complying with all of the other DMV requirements post-DUI-conviction. A first offense of VC 14601.2 in Orange County or Los Angeles County carries mandatory jail of ten days with a maximum of six months. A second offense within five years carries mandatory jail of thirty days with a maximum of one year in jail. The fine also goes up significantly.
The main defense to driving on a suspended license is the driver not having knowledge of the suspension. The Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office, the prosecution, or, unfortunately, the judicial officer (when acting improperly as a prosecutor) will show that the driver/defendant was notified of the suspension based on the DMV records. This notice is most commonly a letter from the DMV sent to the driver’s address that is on file with the DMV. It can also be a police officer giving verbal notice, or any other notice that is recorded by the DMV. Then, the driver/defendant can overcome this presumption of knowledge of the suspension with evidence that the driver did not know that the license was suspended. This may involve showing that no letter was received from the DMV, was never told of the suspension, shows proof of total compliance with any item required to avoid the suspension, or some other evidence demonstrating lack of knowledge of the suspension.
Regardless of the reason for the suspension, the best approach to resolving a driving on a suspended license case in East Los Angeles Courthouse or Metropolitan Courthouse on Hill Street may be to have an experienced attorney negotiate a favorable resolution with the prosecutor, even the Los Angeles District Attorney or the Los Angeles City Attorney. Driving on a suspended license requires careful legal representation to avoid both a criminal conviction and DMV points. Our attorney has extensive experience resolving suspended license cases throughout the Orange County Superior Court of California and the Los Angeles County Superior Court of California.