Driving on a Suspended License
California Vehicle Code 14601 and its related sections prohibit driving when you know that your driver’s license has been suspended or revoked. These offenses are misdemeanor’s which subject you to possible county jail time, suspension of your license, and considerable fines.
CVC 14601 has numerous subsections for different scenarios:
- CVC 14601(a) – privilege suspended/revoked for specific offenses
- CVC 14601.1(a) – privilege suspended/revoked for general offenses
- CVC 14601.2(a) – privilege suspended/revoked for DUI
- CVC 14601.3(a) – Habitual Traffic Offenders
- CVC 14601.5(a) – Suspensions/revocations in general
For all of the subsections of DVC 14601 the prosecutor must prove that you were driving with the knowledge that you weren’t permitted to do so. This is a key difference between this section and CVC 12500, driving without a valid license, which is a less serious offense with lower penalties.
These cases although they are not as complex as major Penal Code violations they can carry serious penalties which could lead to long term affects on your life including jail time. Due to these possibilities it is important that you know your rights and have help advocating for your rights in these cases otherwise the consequences could be long running, such as an increased county jail sentence, mandatory vehicle impound, and a permanent revocation of your CA driving privilege.
What must the Prosecutor prove in order to convict me of driving with a suspended or revoked license?
In order for the prosecutor to prove that you were driving on a revoked or suspended license under CVC 14601, 14601.1, 14601.2, or 14601.5 they must prove: (1) that you were driving while your CA drivers license was revoked or suspended, AND (2) you knew that your CA drivers license was revoked or suspended at the time.
The first aspect is the easiest one for the Prosecutor to prove however the second one as to your knowledge that the license was suspended is where a skilled defense attorney can help you in your case. Under CA driving law you are presumed to have knowledge of your driver’s license suspension or revocation if: (1) the CA DMV mailed you notice via 1st class mail, (2) a police officer told you about the suspension or revocation when you were arrested for DUI, or, (3) a judge informed you of the suspension or revocation at the time you were sentenced for one of the violations that results in a suspension or revocation.
Once those are established it is up to you and your Defense attorney to challenge the presumption in order to establish your innocence. Sometimes these cases arise out of a person driving after their suspension “expires.” For example, if your license was suspended for one year and then you drove your car you could still be charged with driving on a suspended license unless you took the proper steps with the DMV to regain your driving privilege or provided to the court proof that you complete all of your probation requirements. However, often times in cases of this nature without the assistance of a defense attorney you will have to suffer the penalties and not be permitted the ability to negotiate your case and options that would be available if you had a defense attorney to advocate for your rights.
What are all of the different subsections of CVC 14601?
CVC 14601(a) forbids a person from driving a car, motorcycle, or other vehicle when they know that the DMV has suspended or revoked their CA driver’s license due to: reckless driving, alcohol and/or drug abuse, mental and/or physical disability that prevents you from driving safely, or being declared a “negligent” or “incompetent” driver.
CVC 14601.1(a) is a “catch-all” for violations that relate to driving on a revoked or suspended CA drivers license. Under this section it is illegal for a person to drive when they know that the DMV has suspended or revoked your license for any reason that wasn’t mentioned in the other code sections.
CVC 14601.2(a) punishes a person for driving when they knew that their license was revoked or suspended due to a prior DUI conviction or plea. This is the most serious offense in this section and it carries with it a minimum day county jail sentence for a first offense and a minimum 30 day county jail sentence for a second. On top of the jail time and fines that come with a violation of this section California law also requires the instillation of a California ignition interlock device for a conviction under 14601.2(a). This device once installed acts as a mini-breathalyzer that attaches to your car preventing it’s operation unless and until you provide an alcohol-free breath sample.
CVC 14601.3(a) prohibits a person from habitually, repeatedly, driving on a suspended or revoked license. Under this section a person could be convicted and considered a “Habitual Traffic Offender” if:
- Their CA drivers license was suspended or revoked
- During a 12 month period
- When you were convicted of or involved in any combination of these offenses:
- Two or more serious driving related crimes, such as reckless driving (CVC 23103), DUI (CVC 23152), exhibition speed (CVC 23109), or other CVC 14601 violation
- Three or more general moving violation s (ie speeding)
- Three or more accidents where someone was injured and/or the property damage totaled at least $750
CVC 14601.5(a) prohibits a person from driving when they know that their license has been suspended or revoked due to:
- Refusing to submit to a CA DUI chemical blood, breath, or urine test
- DUI while under 21 where you either refused to submit to a Preliminary Alcohol Screening test, or had a DUI BAC of 0.01% or greater
- Refusing to submit to a PAS when you were suspected of driving under the influence of alchol while on probation for drunk driving
- Driving with a BAC of 0.01% or more while on probation for a CA DUI
- Driving with a BAC of 0.08% or more under CVC 23152b
- Driving with a BAC of 0.04% while you were driving a vehicle that required you to have a commercial license