Driving with a Suspended License
Defense attorney for DWLS charges in San Diego County
Driving on a suspended license is a misdemeanor and a conviction of this
charge will generate two points on your driving record. If the reason
for the license suspension is a DUI conviction, there is a mandatory 10
days of jail that must be served on a conviction; the conviction can also
trigger a violation of the DUI probation.
In addition, the police have the authority to impound the car of anyone
driving on a suspended license for up to 30 days. Most impound yards charge
anywhere from $50-$75 a day for impound fees that must be paid before
the vehicle is released to the owner, so re-possessing the car after the
30-day period has run can be costly.
Despite all these possible adverse consequences, driving on a suspended
license charge can usually be negotiated to avoid the mandatory 10 days
custody and possibly even the 2 points on the DMV record, by pleading
to a lesser charge of "driving without a valid license in possession,"
as long as the charged individual has no prior convictions for the same offense.
Also, sometimes these charges can be defended on the basis that the person
never received proper notice of the suspension, which is an essential
element of the charge, or that the suspension was not in force at the
time of the driving.
One of the most common reasons for a suspended license is the failure to
show up in court on a traffic ticket ("FTA"), or failure to
pay a fine on a traffic ticket ("FTP"). The license will remain
suspended until the FTA or FTP is cleared, which sometimes can be accomplished
while a "driving on a suspended license charge" is pending,
thus prompting a dismissal on the charge.
One word of advice – if you show up in court on a "driving on
a suspended license" charge, make sure you have someone else drive
you to the courthouse; it is not unusual for a court bailiff, i.e., a
deputy Sheriff, to follow you out to the parking lot after your court
appearance and arrest you if you are foolish enough to get in a car and
try to drive away from the courthouse.