Unknowingly Driving on a Suspended License in Florida

Driving on a Suspended License in Florida is A Serious Offense with Severe Penalties

Never let anyone convince you that the consequences of driving on a suspended license in Florida are limited to a fine. If you do, you just might be in for an unpleasant surprise later on, when it’s too late to remedy the situation. Since Florida takes driving on a suspended license seriously, you can be sure that the penalties are just as steep. Sometimes, this is still the case even if you had no idea your license was suspended.

Did you receive a ticket for Driving While License Suspended (DWLS) in Florida? If yes, you need to take proactive steps to protect yourself from the potential harsh penalties. Besides fines, these may include a jail term and probation. The consequences of a conviction for driving on a suspended license may also extend to your car insurance premiums.

At Taracks & Associates, we believe that the first step to adequately handling your DWLS case is understanding the gravity of the offense. So, we’ve dedicated our time to providing you with detailed information about the penalties of a DWLS conviction below.

Let’s get started.

What Are The Consequences For Driving On A Suspended License In Florida Besides Fines?

You May Be At Risk of Incarceration If Convicted for DWLS in Florida

There are two categories of DWLS in Florida — DWLS with knowledge and DWLS without knowledge. DWLS with knowledge means that you were aware of your suspended license but decided to disregard it. This is a crime, and the severity of your charges depends on whether it’s a misdemeanor or felony:

  • A first DWLS is a second-degree misdemeanor which is punishable by incarceration of up to 60 days in county jail.
  • Second offenses are misdemeanors of the first degree and carry a jail term of up to a year in county jail.
  • Third and subsequent offenses are third-degree felonies punishable by up to 5 years in state prison.

On the other hand, DWLS without knowledge means that you didn’t know your license was suspended. While it is still a violation, it’s categorized under civil infractions. This means that you will only have to pay a fine since it’s a non-criminal violation.

Sadly, this isn’t all there is to unknowingly driving with a suspended license in Florida. There are instances where ignorance of your license status will not be a valid defense. Let’s assume that you didn’t receive a license suspension notice because you forgot to update your address with the Florida DHSMV (Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles) after moving. In such instances, you may still be at risk of a jail term since your inability to receive the notice was your fault.

Note that you may be considered a habitual traffic offender (HTO) after multiple DWLS convictions in 5 years.  If that’s the case, the DHSMV may impose an additional 5-year suspension on your driver’s license. This may also affect your ability to get a work permit for a while. Furthermore, the authorities can impound your vehicle for driving with a suspended license.

Are There Any Defenses to Driving While License Suspended (DWLS) in Florida

How To Fight A DWLS Charge

You can avoid a DWLS (with knowledge) conviction by showing that the prosecution lacks sufficient evidence to prove their case. Since knowledge is an important element of DWLS, the prosecution must show that you were aware of the suspended license. They can do this by:

  • Showing that you admitted that you knew of the suspension
  • Proving that your license suspension was part of a sentence for a previous conviction
  • Showing that you are a designated habitual traffic offender (HTO).

In summary, failure to show that you were aware of the license suspension will only work in your favor. Besides the lack of evidence, you can also escape a DWLS conviction by showing that:

Your License Suspension Was Invalid 

Sometimes, the state may be unable to prove that you had a suspended license in the first place. It’s also possible that the Florida DHSMV made a mistake in flagging your license as being suspended. These would serve as valid defenses against your DWLS charge.

You Weren’t Driving on A Highway 

In Florida, it’s a crime to drive your vehicle on a highway without a valid driver’s license. If you were arrested while driving in a street or roadway that isn’t considered a highway, you shouldn’t be convicted of DWLS.

You’re A Victim of Identity Theft 

Did someone else give your license to the arresting officer? If yes, you can defend your DWLS charge by claiming that the person stole your identity.

What to Do If Charged with DWLS

Your Attorney Should Be Your First Point of Contact After A DWLS Ticket or Arrest

Many factors can affect your defense strategy against a DWLS charge in Florida. This makes it extremely easy for you to make mistakes that may further complicate your case. For this reason,  it’s important to seek assistance from a qualified suspended license attorney to limit your risks of a conviction. Your lawyer can also help to ensure that you don’t lose your driving privileges while fighting your charges.

Always remember that attempting to handle your case alone without in-depth knowledge of the legal system is a recipe for disaster.

Escape The Consequences For Driving On A Suspended License in Florida; Contact Us Now

Don’t Make The Mistake of Tackling Your DWLS Charge Alone

Were you given a ticket or arrested for driving on a suspended license in Florida? Then you need our experienced criminal defense attorneys on your case as soon as possible. At Taracks & Associates, we understand that the consequences of driving on a suspended license in Florida can be life-altering. Our goal in your case is to ensure that you get the most favorable outcome possible.

This means that we’ll take our time to evaluate your case and explore every available means to get an acquittal. In the worst cases, we’ll strive to mitigate your criminal charge. Whether it’s a DWLS with or without knowledge, you can trust us to fight aggressively on your behalf.

Contact us immediately at 813-281-2897 to schedule a free consultation with our dedicated lawyers. Like with every other criminal charge, time is of the essence in effectively creating a solid defense against your DWLS.

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