Many people assume their drivers' licenses can only be suspended as a result of traffic-related offenses. The truth is, license suspensions can be imposed for a variety of reasons, some of which have nothing to do with traffic violations. Examples include failing to pay child support, failing to carry auto insurance, and being convicted of drug-related crimes.
Whatever the reason behind your license suspension, if you're convicted of driving with a suspended license (DWLS) in Florida, you can expect to face the following penalties.
#1 – Jail Time
The amount of time you'll spend in jail is largely determined by the seriousness of the offense. If this is your first time being arrested for DWLS, the offense is a second-degree misdemeanor punishable by up to 60 days in jail.
If this is your second DWLS arrest, the offense is likely to be considered a first-degree misdemeanor. The judge may order you to spend up to one year in jail.
A third offense is a felony, and can result in spending up to five years in jail.
#2 – Fines
Fines likewise escalate according to whether the DWLS offense is considered a misdemeanor (along with the degree of seriousness) or felony. It's worth noting that fines are oftentimes in addition to jail sentences.
A second-degree misdemeanor DWLS conviction is punishable by up to $500 in fines. A first-degree misdemeanor may impose up to $1,000 in fines. If you're convicted a third time, the offense is considered a felony, and you may be required to pay up to $5,000.
#3 – Felony On Record (For Repeat Offenders)
A felony conviction is a permanent mark on your record. It curtails your freedom in numerous ways. For example, in Florida, you'll lose the right to vote and the right to possess a firearm.
Additionally, you may find it more difficult to secure employment, rent a house or apartment, and obtain the necessary certifications and licenses for certain vocations (e.g. teaching, nursing, etc.).
These are some of the collateral effects of receiving three DWLS convictions. Worse, if the three convictions occur within five years, you'll be labeled a “Habitual Traffic Offender” (HTO), whereupon your driver's license can be revoked for five years.
What To Do If You're Facing DWLS Charges
Driving with a suspended license is considered a serious crime in Florida. Consequently, the penalties resulting from a conviction are often severe.
The Florida traffic defense lawyers at Skubiak & Rivas have devoted their practice to helping clients who are facing serious traffic-related charges. If you've been charged with DWLS, we can help you. We'll not only prepare the appropriate motions and notices, but we'll also design a defense strategy aimed at getting the charges dismissed or reduced.
Contact us today by calling 407-894-4449 for a free, private consultation.