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Driving with a Suspended License

It is a criminal offense to drive with a suspended license, according to VEH 14601. Various reasons can result in the suspension of your driver’s license. One of the common reasons is when you have a DUI conviction, and the DMV or the court has suspended your license. Regardless of the reason why your license is suspended, if you are found operating a vehicle with a suspended license, you will be charged with an offense that can result in steeper penalties and consequences.

If you are facing these allegations, you need to speak to a criminal lawyer to defend you during trial. At Pasadena Criminal Attorney, you will be able to get all the legal assistance you need in dealing with these allegations.

What it Means to Operate a Vehicle with a Revoked or Suspended License

To define driving with a revoked or suspended license in California, it requires using the two elements or facts of the offense. These elements include:

  • You operated a vehicle with a revoked or suspended driver’s license and
  • You were aware of the status of your driver’s license when you were driving.

In finding you guilty of the offense, the prosecutor must show the above elements according to VEH 14601.5. The first element is, however, easy and straightforward. However, proving the second element of the offense can be challenging for the prosecution.

Determining Knowledge According to VEH 14601

The law prohibiting driving with a revoked or suspended license presumes you knew your license was revoked or suspended if the following aspects are true:

  • The California DMV mailed you a notice of the suspension or revocation
  • To send the notice, the most recent address with the DMV was used
  • The DMV never received a notice showing back indicating it was not delivered or it was unclaimed.

In addition to these, the law also assumes under VEH 14601 that you were aware of your privileges for driving were revoked or under suspension if:

  • You were personally served a notice by a law enforcement officer that notified you of the revocation or suspension. Also, the officer may have taken your license such as it is done if you are arrested on a DUI charge or
  • You were informed by the judge of the revocation or suspension when you were sentenced for a particular offense.

However, it is essential to understand that even when the above aspects are true, it is not enough to show you were aware of the suspension of your license and drove in violation of the law. Although it creates the presumption you knew, it is not enough by itself to convict you of the offense. With your experienced lawyer, you can argue your case and challenge the presumption so as to show your innocence.

For instance, if you moved from the last address the DMV had and never informed them of the change, the notice may have been mailed there. However, other people live in your former residence, and they discarded the mail when it came. This means that you never received notification of the suspension, even when the DMV never received a returned notice.

Reinstatement of your Driver’s License after Revocation or Suspension

In order for you to avoid being charged with driving on a suspended or revoked license, it is essential to know that you can get your license reinstated once the suspension period expires. However, you must take the necessary steps outlined by the DMV to get it.

This means the period of your license suspension may expire, but if you drive without going through the necessary steps to reinstate your license, you will violate the law. Therefore, to avoid the charges, you must:

  • Apply to the DMV to get your license reinstated
  • Provide evidence in court showing that you completed the requirements by your probation

Depending on the reasons for your license suspension, the requirements may vary from one person to another.

The Various California Laws for Driving with a Revoked or Suspended License

Having a revoked or suspended license is a legal element in defining the offense of operating a vehicle with a revoked or suspended license. Various statutes in California discuss driving on a revoked or suspended license. These statutes offer multiple reasons for suspending or revoking a license. Additionally, the punishments for operating a vehicle with a suspended license also depend on the causes of the suspension.

VEH 14601 – Suspension of License Due to Specific Offenses

According to VEH 14601, an individual is prohibited from riding a motorcycle or operating a vehicle when they are aware the DMV has suspended their license. Some of the reasons a license may be revoked under this statute are:

  • You were found to be dangerously driving
  • You are known to abuse drugs or alcohol or both
  • You have a mental or physical condition that makes you unable to drive safely
  • You have been declared an incompetent or negligent operator

VEH 14601.1 – Revocation or Suspension of License on General Offenses

According to this statute, it is illegal for a person to operate a vehicle when they have the knowledge that their license is revoked or suspended for whatever reason. This is a general law that includes all the offenses that resulted in the suspension of your license.

VEH 14601.2 – Revocation or Suspension of a License due to a DUI

According to this statute, driving with a suspended license as a result of a DUI is an offense. This offense is the most severe of all vehicle codes that prohibit operating a vehicle on a suspended license. This statute covers all violations of a DUI license suspension as listed below:

  • All license suspensions when you are convicted of VEH 23152(a) violations
  • All license suspensions when charged and convicted of operating with a BAC of 0.08% or over VEH 23152(b)
  • License suspensions due to a charge and subsequent conviction for driving while intoxicated by drugs according to the DUID laws
  • License suspensions when charged and convicted of a DUI resulting in injuries, according to VEH 23153.

VEH 14601.3 – Habitual Traffic Offender

If you are convicted for driving with a suspended or revoked license according to VEH 14601.3, you can be deemed a habitual traffic offender if:

  1. Your California driver’s license was revoked or suspended,
  2. In twelve months when
  3. You got convicted or were involved in two or more of the crimes below:
  • Charged and convicted of VEH 23103 reckless driving
  • Accused and convicted of violating VEH 23152 DUI
  • Charged and convicted of VEH 23109 violations of speed exhibition
  • Any other VEH 14601 violation

According to this statute, the law prohibits an individual not only from driving with a revoked or suspended license but against having a multitude of problems with a suspended license.

VEH 14601.5 Suspension of License for Refusing to Take a Chemical Test

It is an offense to operate a vehicle when your license is suspended due to the following reasons:

  1. Following a lawful DUI arrest, you failed to agree to a chemical test to check your blood alcohol concentration
  2. You were charged with under 21 drunk driving and declined to take a field sobriety test, or you were driving with a BAC of 0.01% and over
  3. You are serving a probation time for drunk driving and refuse to agree to a chemical test or preliminary alcohol screening when arrested for suspected drunk driving
  4. You were found with a BAC of 0.01% while on a drunken driving probation
  5. Operating a vehicle with a BAC of 0.08% or over, violating VEH 23152(b)
  6. Driving a commercial car with a BAC of 0.04% or more

Penalties for Driving with a Suspending Driver’s License according to VEH 14601

When you are charged with driving on a revoked or suspended license in California, the offense is a misdemeanor. The punishments for this offense will typically involve fines, county jail time, or both a fine and jail time. Violations of this law or driving on a revoked or suspended license will not result in state imprisonment because the offense is not a felony.

As discussed earlier, there are many reasons why a license can be revoked or suspended. The actual penalties or sentencing for operating with a revoked or suspended license depend on the reasons why it was suspended in the first place. Other considerations include:

  • Whether you hold prior sentences for driving on a revoked or suspended license
  • Your driving background, meaning any offenses you have committed in the past involving driving even out of state offenses.

Below is a table that gives a summary of the penalties an individual found operating on a revoked or suspended license will face. Like DUI offenses, operating with a revoked or suspended license is a priorable offense. This means that if you are charged with the same offense; subsequently, the penalties you will face are steeper.



Reason for Suspension

County Jail time

Fine and Penalties

VEH 14601

License revocation or suspension for particular offenses

Between five days and 6 months

Between $300 and $1,000

VEH 14601.1

Suspension due to general reasons

Not more than 6 months

Between $300 and $1,000

VEH 14601.2

Suspension due to a DUI offense

Between 10 days and 6 months

Between $300 and $1,000

VEH 14601.3

Habitual traffic offender with a suspended license

30 days


VEH 14601.5

Suspended license for declining a chemical test and other DUI offenses

Not more than 6 months

Between $300 and $1,000

It is also essential to understand that if you get charged and convicted of violating VEH 14601.2, you could be ordered to have an IID device installed in your car.

Fighting VEH 14601 Charges

When faced with these allegations, it is necessary to hire an attorney to fight on your behalf. Your attorney will analyze the evidence against you and the allegations then come up with credible defenses to help you avoid a conviction. Some of the legal arguments your attorney may use include:

You had no Knowledge

One of the elements of proving that you drove with a revoked or suspended license is for the prosecution to show you knew that your license was on suspension. This means that cases for driving with a suspended or revoked license are centered on the knowledge of the fact.

Your lawyer can argue that you were not aware that your license was revoked or suspended. In case the notice was mailed to a former address, and it never reached you, you cannot be guilty of the offense. The prosecutor has the burden to prove that the notice for suspension reached you, and you drove despite it.

You had a Restricted Driver’s License

The law allows individuals whose licenses have been suspended to apply for a restricted driver’s license from the DMV. The license will enable you to drive restrictedly:

  • To go to work and back
  • To attend the DUI classes ordered in your sentencing
  • To go wherever the court allows you to

If you are found operating in the limits of the restricted license, this will be a credible defense to fight these charges. In some cases, it will lead to the dismissal of the allegations. This defense is, however, only valid if you are facing charges for violating VEH 14601.2 and VEH 14601.5.

The Revocation or Suspension of your License was Invalid

Sometimes the revocation of your license may have been unlawful. Other times, errors may have been in the evidence of the offense that resulted in a conviction and penalties that involved the suspension of your license.

If this is true, your lawyer can argue to get your charges for driving on a revoked or suspended license dropped.

Dismissals and Plea Bargains

Sometimes, prosecutors are open to offering plea bargains for individuals charged with violating VEH 14601. Some of the lesser charges your lawyer can bargain for you include:

  • Driving with an invalid license as found under VEH 12500
  • Being charged with an infraction

Related Offenses to Driving with a Revoked or Suspended License

Various offenses are related to driving with a revoked or suspended license. These offenses can be charged alongside or instead of the crime of operating a vehicle with a suspended license. Some of these offenses are:

VEH 12500 – Driving without a Driver’s License

This offense is similar to that of driving with a revoked or suspended license. However, it is a lesser offense that is often used in plea bargains. When you are arrested for driving without a license, you will be charged with this offense. For a conviction, it will not matter if you were aware you had no license or were unlicensed.

The offense is charged as an infraction or a misdemeanor depending on the circumstances of the offense. In case it is your first violation, and your record is clean with regard to driving, you will likely be charged with an infraction.

VEH 12951 - Failure to Display your License

This is also a lesser offense to that of driving with a suspended license. When you are unable to display your license upon request by a law enforcement officer, you will be faced with charges of:

  • Driving without a license in your possession or
  • Declining to present your license to a peace officer when asked to.

In California, failing to have your license with you when it is valid is an infraction. However, the charges can be dropped as soon as you are able to show that you had it, and it was valid at the time you got arrested.

If, however, you refuse to display your license when asked to by an officer, you will be prosecuted on misdemeanor charges.

DMV Hearings in California

You can avoid these criminal charges of driving with a revoked or suspended license if you simply avoided them. You can achieve this by challenging the possible suspension of your driver’s license or its revocation.

If you receive a notice from the DMV stating the possibility of suspending or revoking your license due to:

  • Supposed negligent driving
  • Supposed mental or physical issue or
  • Due to a DUI offense or conviction,

You have a right to request a hearing with the DMV and have your lawyer help you with the defense. The DMV gives a time limit to when you can seek this hearing, and it is usually ten days from when the notice is received.

DMV Hearings Triggered by a DUI Arrest

If you are arrested because of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or you caused vehicular manslaughter, your driver’s license may be suspended or revoked by the DMV. If you are holding an out of state driver’s license, there is a possibility of losing your driving privileges in your state. However, before your license is suspended, the DMV must notify you, and you have a right to request a hearing, as earlier discussed. These are known as administrative Per Se hearings.

If your DUI arrest was that of an underage or you refused to take a chemical test, the suspension of your license would last a year.

Fortunately, after a DUI arrest, you are entitled to a DMV hearing to challenge the suspension of your license. However, you must request the hearing in ten days from the arrest date. If you fail to ask for this hearing, you will lose your right to challenge your license suspension, and your license will automatically be suspended.

Fortunately, you don’t need to risk the charges of driving with a suspended or revoked license anymore in California. If your license is suspended because of a DUI offense, you can get an IID restricted license that allows you to drive anywhere. This is possible provided you install your car with an ignition interlock device.

DMV Hearing to Contest Driver’s License Suspension due to Negligence

If your driving record receives many points, you may be said to be a negligent driver. This, as earlier discussed, can get your license suspended. Various violations will see you earn points with the DMV that are used to determine the kind of driver you are.

As in all DMV cases, before a suspension is effected, the DMV will mail you a notice of the same. Immediately you receive the notice to suspend your license on allegations of negligence; you must get in touch with your lawyer quickly. You must also request to have a DMV hearing to contest the impending suspension of your license as a right.

Suspension of your Driver’s License Because of Physical or Mental Conditions

If you are suffering from any physical or mental condition that affects your ability to drive safely, you may get your license suspended. For instance, if you have Alzheimer’s disease, epilepsy, diabetes, or another condition that causes one to lose consciousness of having them impaired. All these can result in the suspension of your license.

Some individuals have conditions that should legitimately prevent them from driving for their safety and that of others. However, some people placed in this group are capable of safe driving. When you receive a notification from the DMV intending to suspend your license, you have a right to request a hearing to defend the suspension of your license.

Suspension of Driver’s License Due to Age

In California, when a person reaches a certain age is deemed incapable of driving safely. The DMV puts a cut off age by insisting that anyone above the age of 70 must renew their license in person. This is usually they want to evaluate if the person can be trusted to drive or not.

If you receive notice that your license is getting suspended because of age, you can request a DMV hearing, and with the help of your lawyer, contest their decision. If you defy the notice, your license will be suspended, and when arrested for driving, you will be prosecuted.

Suspension of License Due to Fraud

When you commit a license fraud, you risk having your driving privileges permanently revoked. A person commits license fraud when he or she uses another person’s identity to obtain a license. This may also result in them being charged with forgery, according to PEN 470.

When one commits this fraud, their driving privileges will be permanently revoked. However, you will still have a chance to contest the revocation, and getting your lawyer to help is advisable.

Find a Los Angeles Criminal Attorney Near Me

The penalties for operating on a revoked or suspended license are severe, depending on why your license was suspended. The DMV has many reasons why it would suspend a person’s license, but this can be avoided by requesting a hearing to contest the suspension. If you decide to continue driving and your license is suspended, you will face charges of driving with a suspended driver’s license.

For this reason, you need an attorney that can fight these allegations for you. Talk to Pasadena Criminal Attorney, and you will find all the legal help you need with your case. Reach us at 626-689-2277, and allow us to defend you.

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