Consequences of Driving on a Suspended License

When a police officer issues you the ticket for Driving on a Suspended or Revoked Driver’s License (DWLSR) with a Speeding Ticket, and tells you the Judge will likely only just impose a fine since you didn’t know your license is suspended; it is rarely that simple.

Florida Statute §322.34 outlines the many penalties and scenarios at play when a person receives a ticket for DWLSR.

The first fact to determine is whether the State of Florida can prove that you knew that your license was Suspended or Revoked when you were driving. Florida Statute §322.34(1) establishes that if a person commits DWLSR then it is a moving violation (civil infraction under Florida Statute §318). If, however, the driver has “Knowledge” that the license has been Suspended or Revoked, then the DWLSR is treated as a criminal offense (Florida Statute §322.31(b)) that is punished as follows:

  • First offense is s 2°Misdemeanor – punishable by up to 60 days in County Jail,
  • Second offense is a 1° Misdemeanor – punishable by up to one year in County Jail,
  • Third of subsequent offense is a 3° Felony – punishable by up to 5 years in Florida State Prison.

With the threat of possible jail time, the element of knowledge is critical for this offense.

If a police officer issues the DWLSR ticket pursuant to Florida Statute 322.32(b), then the DWLSR will be handled as a crime, and a prosecutor must be able to prove knowledge of the Suspension or Revocation. A prosecutor can try to prove knowledge several ways;

  • Did the driver “Admit” that he or she was aware that the Driver’s License was Suspended or Revoked,
  • Was the Notice of Suspension mailed by DHMSV to the address listed on the Driver’s License,
  • Did a Judge impose a license Suspension as part of a sentence for a previous charge (i.e., Possession of MJ, DUI, Solicitation of Prostitution, and there are other charges that courts will suspend privileges to drive), or
  • If a person is considered a HBTO (Habitual Traffic Offender.

Just because you didn’t receive a notice in the mail that your license was going to be Suspended or Revoked, doesn’t mean that you are free from a possible jail sentence. If you moved, and didn’t update your address with DHSMV, the fact that you didn’t receive a Notice of Suspension or Revocation is not a defense. Years ago, a County Judge that I often appeared before in Traffic Court would always ask people what 3 things they should do on their birthday:

  • Renew the registration on their car,
  • Check to make sure the address on their Driver’s License was updated, and
  • Celebrate!!!

This was to remind people to keep the address current on their Driver’s License so that they would always receive any Notice of Suspension to avoid DWLSR.

So, if you have received a DWLSR citation for a Suspension that you didn’t know about, it is crucial to consult with one of the Experienced Criminal Defense Attorneys at Taracks & Associates. We have developed the knowledge and experience to use your lack of knowledge of your Driver’s License status to help secure a result that won’t be devastating on you, your family, or your employment.

In addition to whether or not you know of the Suspension or Revocation of your driving privilege, your driving history can have a tremendous impact on the ramifications of the potential sentence to be handed down by the Judge on your case.

For example, a Florida Driver gets a HTO designation when he or she receives 3 convictions of any combination of DWLSR or DUI within a period of 5 years. This designation carries a separate additional 5-year Driver’s License Suspension, and it is imposed by the DHMSV; not the Judge! Once a person is designated a HTO, it can be difficult to have that designation removed.

Did you know that a person with a HTO designation cannot even be issued a work permit for at least one year from when the 5-year HTO Suspension begins?

The experienced Tampa Defense Lawyers at Taracks & Associates have had remarkable success in reviewing clients’ entire Driver’s License Record looking for ways to have the HTO designation removed. Were any tickets or driving events susceptible to a Motion to Vacate or other post-conviction motion? If any of your previous tickets or charges can be reopened, and available for the Court to structure a new sentence that will eliminate a HTO Suspension, we will pursue that result.

If you are considered a HTO when your DWLSR was issued, or someone is killed or seriously injured by a negligent driver whose privilege is Suspended or Revoked, these DWLSR charges are also considered 3° Felonies and punishable by up to 5 years in Prison.

Additionally, it is not uncommon for people to “clear up” their driving record and pay multiple outstanding tickets all at once. This unexpectedly can result in a Driver’s License Suspension for too many points, and potentially acquire a HTO designation unknowingly.

For example, if you have multiple unpaid traffic tickets over the last several years, and you pay them all at once, then the points will hit your Driver’s License the date the tickets are paid. This “snowball” affect can have unintended consequences on your ability to legally drive. We have seen clients receive multiple DWLSR tickets before they have even received the DHSMV Notice of Suspension. They were then in jeopardy of losing their privilege to drive for 5 years, when all they were trying to do was pay all outstanding tickets.

So, due to the complex Uniform Traffic Code in the State of Florida, if you have the HTO designation, or a pending DWLSR charge, call to schedule a Free Consultation with an experienced Tampa Defense Attorney at Taracks & Associates. We will review your driving record, and develop the best action plan to keep you driving while striving to help you avoid a jail sentence.

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