If you drive a motor vehicle on a revoked/suspended California driver's license, you may be guilty of Vehicle Code 14601 VC. You are liable if, at the time of committing the offense, you were aware of your suspended/revoked driving privileges in California. To charge with driving on a revoked/suspended license, the prosecutor has to prove the two elements of the crime. If you are facing charges under Vehicle Code 14601 VC, the Orange County Criminal Defense Attorney Law Firm can assist.
Overview of Driving on a Revoked/Suspended License
You are only guilty of driving on a revoked/suspended license if, at the time of driving, you were aware of the revocation of your driver's license. How can the prosecutor prove that you knew about the suspension of your license? If you received a notice from the California Department of Motor Vehicles via mail informing you about your license's suspension, you might not claim that you did not know. The court will assume you were aware of the DMV sent the notice to the most recent address you reported to them. The DMV may also send the notice to any more recent address delivered by the court or another agency. The court will also assume you were aware of the notice sent by DMV did not come back as undeliverable or unclaimed.
For example, the law enforcement officers arrest you for DUI violations on several occasions, and the DMV decides to revoke your driver's license. The Department of Motor Vehicles sends a notice to you informing you of the revoked status of your driver's license. While sending the notice, DMV uses your most recent address. However, you had already moved from the provided license, and DMV receives the notice as undeliverable. The law enforcement officers later arrest you for driving on a revoked license. There will not be a presumption that you knew about the revocation of your driver's license. This is because the DMV already received the undeliverable notice of license revocation. This would only mean that you did not get the notice.
According to Vehicle Code 14601 VC, you may also be aware of your license revocation if a police officer served you with a notice of suspension. The police may serve you with revocation notice at the time of DUI arrest and even confiscate your driver's license. The judge may also inform you about the revocation of your driver's license at the time of sentencing for one of the violations that lead to license suspension.
However, it is essential to note that even if the above-mentioned ways of informing you about revocation apply to your case, it is not conclusive proof of knowledge. The procedures only create a presumption that you knew about the suspension of your driver's license. The judge may conclude that you were aware of the revoked status of your driver's license. However, the judge does not have to make this conclusion, especially if you challenge the presumption. With the help of a criminal defense attorney, you can challenge the presumption in court and prove your innocence.
Reinstatement of Driving Privileges After a Suspension
It is important to understand that even after the expiration of your license suspension, you are still not free to drive. You have to take some necessary actions to facilitate the reinstatement of your driver's license. This will prevent you from incurring charges of driving on a revoked license. You have to take the right steps with the Department of Motor Vehicles for the reinstatement of your driver's license. You also have to prove in court that you have met all the requirements of your probation prior to reinstatement of driver's license. Depending on the cause of license suspension, the steps of reinstating your license may vary.
California Laws on Driving on a Revoked/Suspended License
There are several California laws that explain the violation of driving on a revoked/suspended or revoked license. Most of the laws outline the reasons for the suspension of a driver's license. These statutes are essential because, in the first place, the cause of a driver's license suspension determines the applicable penalties. California laws of license suspension include:
License Suspension/Revocation on Specific Offenses
In California, the Department of Motor Vehicles may suspend your driver's license dues to specific offenses. Vehicle Code 14601 VC prohibits people from operating a vehicle, a motorcycle, or any other vehicle on a revoked license. Specific offenses that may lead to revocation of driver's licenses include reckless driving and drug or alcohol abuse. If you have a mental or physical condition that impairs or hinders you from operating a vehicle in a safe manner, the DMV may suspend your license. Upon declaration as an incompetent vehicle operator or as a negligent vehicle operator, the DMV may suspend your driver's license.
The main reason for a driver's license suspension is reckless driving. There are two forms of reckless driving in California; California dry reckless, and California wet reckless. These two offenses are common charge reductions in California DUI charges.
You may be coming from a party while intoxicated. The police arrest you and charge you with DUI. You hire a competent attorney who successfully negotiates for a plea bargain, and the attorney reduces your DUI charges to reckless driving. You should not be surprised if the DMV still suspends your driver's license even after the reduction of your DUI charge. The DMV suspends your license based on a reckless driving plea. If you ignore the suspension and opt to operate your motor vehicle, you may face charges under Vehicle Code 14601 VC.
License Suspension for General Offenses
Under the California Vehicle Code 14601.1 VC, the Department of Motor Vehicles may suspend your driver's license for general offenses. This is an all-inclusive law that makes it illegal to operate your motor vehicle on a revoked license irrespective of the cause of suspension. Even if the DMV suspended your driver's license for the reason that is not set out in the California statutes, you should still refrain from operating your vehicle on a revoked license.
License Suspension for Driving Under the Influence
In accordance with the California Vehicle Code, section 14601.2 VC, it is a crime to operate a vehicle after a DUI license suspension. DUI license suspension is one of the most crimes that involve violation of California Vehicle Code 14601. The DMV may suspend your driver's license based on various DUI violations. For instance, according to Vehicle Code 23152(a) VC, DMV may suspend your license under California's driving while intoxicated law. The DMV may also suspend your driver's license if you operate a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol content of .08% or more as outlined by the Vehicle Code 23152(b) VC. If you operate a vehicle under the influence of drugs, the Department of Motor Vehicles may suspend your license based on California laws on driving while intoxicated with drugs. For DUI causing injury, the DMV may suspend your driver's license in accordance with Vehicle Code 23153 VC.
Habitual/Regular Traffic Offenders
Under California law, you may be guilty of operating a vehicle on a revoked license as outlined by the California Vehicle Code 14601.3 VC. You may even get the title of a habitual/regular traffic offender. Who is a habitual/regular traffic offender? You may be deemed a habitual/regular traffic offender if your license is suspended within a period of twelve months when you face conviction or committed a combination of specific offenses. The offenses include two or more severe driving crimes related to drugs. Severe drug-related crimes include reckless driving, Driving under the influence, an exhibition of speed , and another violation under Vehicle Code14601. Other crimes include three of more 'general moving' violations, including speeding. You may also be guilty if you get involved in three or more accidents where a person dies or property worth $750 or more gets damaged.
It is clear that the California Vehicle Code 14601.3 VC is not just against driving on a revoked/suspended license. It is also against accumulating a history of driving problems, especially while your driving privileges are suspended. The vehicle code states that during the period of license suspension or revocation, it is illegal to accumulate a driving record history.
License Suspension for Refusing to Submit to a Chemical Test and Other DUI Offenses
According to California law 14601.5 VC, it is illegal to operate a vehicle while you are aware that your license is invalid due to a number of reasons. The DMV may suspend your license for refusing to undergo a breath, chemical blood, or urine tests. In the case of California DUI while under 21, you may lose your driver's license for refusing to submit to a PAS (preliminary alcohol testing) test. A person below the age of 21 years may also lose his/her license for recording a (BAC) blood alcohol concentration of 0.01% or more.
If you are on probation for drunk driving, you may lose your license if you refuse to undergo a PAS test. The law enforcement officers may require you to submit a PAS test or another form of chemical test if the PAS (preliminary alcohol-screening) device is not available.
The California DMV may suspend your driver's license if you operate a vehicle with a blood alcohol content of 0.01% or greater while serving probation for a DUI offense. Operating a vehicle with a blood alcohol content of 0.08% or more and violating Vehicle Code 23152(b) may lead to driver's license suspension. While driving a commercial vehicle and you are a commercial driver, the DMV may suspend your license if you record a blood alcohol content of 0.04% or more.
Penalties for Driving on a Revoked/Suspended License
Operating a vehicle on a revoked license is a misdemeanor under California law. For a misdemeanor offense, the punishment may include a fine that does not exceed $1,000. Penalties may also include jail time of up to 1 year in a California county jail. However, for a misdemeanor offense, you do not serve a sentence in a California state prison.
The consequences for driving on a revoked/suspended license may vary depending on a number of factors. The factors that determine the applicable consequences include the cause of your driver's license suspension. The court will also consider whether you have former convictions for operating your vehicle on a revoked license. The court will also consider your driving history. When considering your driving history, the court will also consider the out-of-state driving convictions for drug-related offenses.
Under the California Vehicle Code 14601, if you operate a vehicle on a license suspended due to specific offenses, you may serve a county jail sentence ranging from 5 days to 6 months. Other than reckless driving, other particular offenses that may lead to license suspension include drug or alcohol addiction, physical or mental condition, or drug addiction. The court may also require you to pay fines ranging from $300 to $1,000.
According to California Vehicle Code 14601.1, if you operate a vehicle on a license suspended for general reasons not outlined in other statutes, you may face charges. Charges may include a county jail sentence not exceeding 6 months with no minimum. The court may also order you to pay fines that range between $300 and $1,000.
Under Vehicle Code 14601.2, if you drive on a license suspended due to DUI, you will also face specific consequences. The consequences include a county jail sentence ranging from 10 days to 6 months. You may also pay a fine ranging from $300 up to $1000.
According to the California Vehicle Code 14601.3, you will face charges for operating your vehicle on a revoked license as a habitual offender. You may serve a county jail sentence of up to 30 days. The court may also require you to pay a fine that does not exceed $1,000.
In accordance with the California Vehicle Code 14601.5, if you drive on a license suspended due to chemical test refusal and other DUI offenses, you will face distinct penalties. The penalties include a county jail sentence of six months with no minimum. You may also pay a fine ranging from $300 up to $1000.
It is important to note that if you commit an offense under Vehicle Code 14601.2 VC and operate your vehicle on a revoked license, you may have to install an ignition interlock device (IID). This is a unique breathalyzer instrument installed in a vehicle. The IID will prevent you from operating your vehicle under the influence of alcohol. Every time you are about to start your vehicle, you have to provide an alcohol-free breath sample.
Common Defenses for Driving on a Revoked/Suspended License Charges
There are several legal defenses to the crime under Vehicle Code 14601. For the best defense, you need to work with an attorney who fully understands driving offenses. The attorney can argue on your behalf to prove that you are not guilty. Some of the common legal defenses for driving on a revoked/suspended license include:
You Did Not Know About Suspension of Your License
For you to face charges for operating a motor vehicle on a revoked license, it must be evident that you were aware of your license suspension. For both defense attorneys and prosecutors, cases for driving on a revoked/suspended license revolve around the aspect of knowledge. The prosecutor seeks to prove that you were aware of the revocation of your license. On the other hand, the defense attorney seeks to prove that you were not aware of your license suspension.
In your defense, the attorney may prove that even if the DMV mailed the suspension notice to you, you had already changed the address. Maybe the judge or any official did not take time to tell you about the license suspension. A defense attorney will know how to argue your case and prove a lack of knowledge about license suspension.
Restricted Driver's License
In California, you may acquire restricted driving privileges after a driver's license suspension. This mainly happens if you present a critical need to operate a motor vehicle while under license suspension. If the DMV grants you a restricted license, you can comfortably drive to school and work. If you are attending a court-ordered California DUI school, you freely drive to drive to and from school on a restricted driver’s license. You will also be able to drive to any other place that the court allows on your suspended license.
At the time of arrest, if you were driving within the allowed scope of your restricted driver's license, you may quote this as a defense. This may result in dismissal of your charges for driving on a revoked/suspended license. It is important to note that this defense will only apply in a case of operating a vehicle on suspended license for DUI. It will also apply in cases of operating a vehicle on a revoked license for other offenses.
Invalid Revocation of Driver's License
You may not face charges for operating a vehicle on a revoked license if the license suspension is invalid in the first place. While suspending your license, errors may have been present regarding your prior convictions, thus leading to the suspension of a driver's license. If this is the case, your attorney can help you fight driving on suspended license charges.
Dismissals and Plea Bargain
In most cases, a prosecutor will be willing to reduce your charges for driving on a revoked/suspended license to a lesser offense. Lesser offenses may include driving without a legally valid license as an outline under Vehicle Code 12500. The prosecutor may also reduce your offense to an infraction like moving violations. The prosecutor may prefer to save his resources and time for more serious offenses. At times, the prosecutor may even be willing to dismiss driving on a revoked/suspended license charge altogether. This case may apply if you do not have an adverse criminal history. You will only need to take steps to facilitate the reinstatement of your driver's license. Upon clearing the suspension or revocation, it will be easy to resolve the case.
There is a better option for operating a motor vehicle on a revoked license. This is the option of avoiding charges under VC 14601 altogether. You can fight the suspension of your driver's license by requesting a DMV hearing. You may have received a notice of license suspension on the grounds of DUI conviction, alleged negligently operating a vehicle, or alleged mental or physical issue. You should contact an attorney who has a vast experience in California Department of Motor Vehicle hearings. Before taking away your driving privileges, the DMV owes you a DMV hearing; this is your legal right.
You have to act because you can only request a DMV hearing within ten days after the DMV notifies you about a license suspension.
Under California law, several crimes are closely related to the crime of driving on a revoked/suspended license. The prosecutor may charge you with these offenses alongside or instead of the offense of driving on a revoked/suspended license.
Driving Without a License
The crime of driving without a driver's license under California law 12500 VC is a lesser crime to driving on a revoked/suspended license. For you to face charges under California law 12500 VC, the law enforcement officers have to prove that you were operating a motor vehicle without a driver's license. It does not matter whether you were aware that you lacked a license. You are guilty as long as you were driving on a revoked/suspended license.
Under California law, operating a vehicle without a driver's license is either a misdemeanor offense or an infraction charge. For a first offense accompanied by a good driving record, the prosecutor may reduce your charges to lower offense of infraction.
Failing to Show a Driver's License
According to California Vehicle Code 12951 VC, it is an offense to fail to show your driver's license. This crime is lesser than the crime of driving on a revoked/suspended license. You may have a valid driver's license. However, you may face charges for failing to drive with the license in your person/possession. You may also face charges if you fail to display the license to a peace officer after the officer makes a request. It is an offense (infraction) in California to leave your driver's license behind while operating a vehicle.
Contact an Orange County Criminal Lawyer Near Me
The Orange County Criminal Defense Attorney Law Firm is committed to helping people facing operating a vehicle on suspended license charges. Contact us at 714-740-7848 and speak to one of our attorneys today.