Driving a vehicle is considered a privilege, not a right. If you are driving on a suspended or revoked license in California and are stopped by the police, you may be arrested and your vehicle may be impounded.
California Vehicle Code beginning with Section 14601 defines the various reasons and penalties associated with driving while your license is suspended or revoked.
You Must Know Your License is Suspended or Revoked
California law requires that you must have knowledge of a license suspension or revocation in order to convict you of this offense. It is presumed that you were notified of the suspension or revocation if the DMV mailed you a letter informing you to this effect or you were notified by a court.
How Can Your Driver’s License Be Suspended?
There are many reasons why your driver’s license can be suspended. Some of the most common reasons include:
- Refusal to provide a blood or breath sample if you are required to submit to chemical testing after a DUI arrest;
- Negligent driving resulting in bodily injury or death to another person;
- The results of a chemical test indicate that you were driving under the influence of legal, illegal or prescription drugs;
- A DUI conviction;
- Reckless driving – for example, driving at a high rate of speed or driving erratically;
- Failing to pay a traffic fine, such as a speeding ticket;
- Failure to pay court-ordered child support;
- Failure to appear in court;
- A documented mental or physical impairment;
- Habitual Traffic Offender status – violating traffic laws so often that the state considers you to have disrespect for traffic laws and a disregard for the safety of other persons;
- Too many “negligent operator” points accumulated on your driving record;
- Driving in excess of 100 miles per hour.
DMV Negligent Operator Treatment System (NOTS)
The DMV may restrict, suspend or even revoke the driving privileges of a negligent operator. In California, you are presumed to be a negligent operator if you receive:
- 4 or more points in a 12-month period;
- 6 points in a 24-months period; or
- 8 points in a 36-month period.1
There are dozens of infractions that qualify as “one-point count” vehicle code violations. Generally, “two-point count” vehicle code violations are misdemeanor or felony crimes, such as DUI, reckless driving, hit & run and evading a police officer. Out-of-state driving convictions also count against you.
How Long Can Your License Be Suspended?
Standard driver’s license suspensions include:
- First offense DUI conviction – minimum of four months;
- Subsequent DUI conviction within 10 years – one year;
- Refusal to submit to required chemical testing (in addition to any other suspension required as a result of a DUI conviction):
- First offense – one year suspension;
- Second offense within 10 years – two year revocation;
- Third or subsequent offense within 10 years – three year revocation;
- Minor (under 21 years) in possession or under the influence of alcohol – one year;
- Too many negligent operator points accumulated – minimum of six months.
License suspension is temporary and it can be reinstated but a revoked license is a permanent seizure of a person’s driving privilege. With a revoked license, a person can never legally drive in California. If you repeatedly violate the laws and rules of driving, your license can be revoked. License revocation can last for several years or indefinitely, depending on:
- Your criminal history;
- Your driving record; and
- Evidence of a physical or mental impairment.
While it is possible to get a license after serving a period of revocation, usually you must complete an Alcohol/Drug Counseling program or submit medical proof that a mental or physical condition will not impair your ability to drive before you can be issued a new license.
Sentencing and Punishment for Driving on a Suspended or Revoked License in California
Generally, if you are convicted of driving on a suspended or revoked license in California, you face the following punishment:
- Three years of informal (“summary”) probation; and
- First offense – a minimum of five days (10 days if a result of a DUI conviction) to up to a maximum of six months in jail and a fine between $300 and $1,000; or
- Subsequent offense within five years – a minimum of 10 days (30 days if a result of a DUI conviction) to up to one year in jail and a fine between $500 and $2,000.
Ignition Interlock Device (IID)
An Ignition Interlock Device (IID) regulates your ability to start and/or operate a vehicle by requiring you to periodically provide a breath- alcohol content sample while driving.
The DMV is required to impose an IID restriction on the driving privilege of a person convicted of driving with a suspended or revoked license for a DUI conviction (California Vehicle Code Sections 14601.2, 14601.4, or 14601.5). A court may also impose an IID requirement under certain circumstances. An IID does not permit you to drive without a valid license.
Other Consequences of Driving on a Suspended or Revoked License
In addition to any other penalties as a result of a conviction for driving on a suspended or revoked license, law enforcement agencies are permitted to impound the vehicle you were driving, typically for 30 days. The cost to retrieve your vehicle from the impound company can be substantial, around $50 per day for storage in addition to any fees for towing the vehicle.
In a worst case scenario, a judge can seize your vehicle for being a “nuisance” if you are declared a repeat offender.
In addition to all of the above mentioned consequences, your car insurance provider may also raise your monthly premiums or cancel your insurance altogether.
Wallin & Klarich Can Help You Fight a Suspended License Charge
If you or someone you love has been arrested for driving on a suspended or revoked license in California, you should consult an experienced criminal defense attorney from Wallin & Klarich as soon as possible. A conviction for suspended/revoked license can mean mandatory jail time, heavy fines and other costly expenses, including your vehicle being impounded.
Our attorneys at Wallin & Klarich have over 40 years of experience successfully defending those persons accused of driving on a suspended license. With offices in Los Angeles, Sherman Oaks, Torrance, Tustin, San Diego, Riverside, San Bernardino, Ventura, West Covina and Victorville, our attorneys at Wallin & Klarich will help you obtain the best possible result in your case.
Call us today at (877) 4-NO-JAIL or (877) 466-5245 for a free telephone consultation. We will get through this together.
1. [Vehicle Code § 12810.5 (a)]↩