Driving with a suspended license can be a misdemeanor. Florida statute § 322.34 defines driving with a suspended license and sets out the penalties that you will face.
Many people picked up for driving with a suspended license are unaware of their rights and the defenses they can raise to a charge.
As a result, they often agree to plead guilty when this might not be the best option. If you have been arrested, please contact Skubiak & Rivas, P.A., today.
What is Driving with a Suspended License?
A person is guilty of driving with a suspended license when his or her license has been suspended and they drive a motor vehicle on the state highways. This is an ordinary moving violation, unless the driver knew of the suspension, in which case a first offense is a misdemeanor in the second degree.
If the driver is picked up a second time, then he or she has committed a misdemeanor of the first degree. This will warrant more serious penalties.
If the driver is picked up for a third time, then he or she has committed a felony. Each subsequent arrest for driving on a suspended license will also be a felony.
What are the Penalties?
Even if you are charged with a misdemeanor, you are looking at some serious penalties. A second-degree misdemeanor carries up to 6 months in jail and a fine up to $500. If you are picked up for a second time and face first-degree misdemeanor charges, you can be sent to jail for up to a year.
The penalties for a felony are even more extreme—a possible 5 years in prison and a $5,000 fine. Felons also lose important civil rights in Florida, such as the right to vote and serve on a jury.
Some defendants are also at risk for losing their license. If you have multiple offenses within a 5-year period, you could be labeled a “Habitual Traffic Offender” and see your license revoked for 5 years. Once you are classified as a habitual offender, you won’t even be able to get a hardship license until a full year has passed, making it very difficult to get to work or school.
How Can You Defend against these Charges?
Every defense depends on the circumstances, regardless of whether you have been charged with a misdemeanor or felony offense. Some of the more common defenses include:
- The defendant didn’t know about the suspension. In this case, it would be an ordinary moving violation.
- The defendant wasn’t on the highway.
- The defendant wasn’t driving at the time.
- The police had no valid reason to stop the driver.
- The vehicle was not a “vehicle” under the statute.
In other situations, your attorney might be able to negotiate a favorable plea deal.
Contact a Criminal Defense Attorney
Driving is a privilege, not a right. If your license has been suspended but you get caught, you should seriously consider fighting the charges. For help with your case, contact Skubiak & Rivas, P.A. We offer a free consultation to those who reach out today.