Driving While License Suspended
There are many reasons that the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles in Florida can suspend your license, including a DUI, child support delinquency, a habitual traffic offender classification, a failure to pay fines, a failure to appear in court, drug convictions, petty theft convictions, a refusal to take a DUI chemical test, or a plea to a racing on highways charge. If you choose to drive while your license is suspended, you risk getting charged with another crime. It is imperative that you seek counsel from an experienced St. Petersburg traffic crime lawyer. At Hanlon Law, we strongly believe in safeguarding the rights of our clients.Charges of Driving While License Suspended
Under Florida Revised Statutes section 322.34, someone whose driver's license has been suspended, canceled, or revoked who drives on a highway in Florida during the period of suspension, cancelation, or revocation is guilty of a moving violation. If you know of this cancelation, suspension, or revocation, and you are caught driving anyway, you can be guilty of a second-degree misdemeanor for a first conviction. This means that you face the potential of imprisonment for 60 days and a $500 fine. If you get a second conviction, it is a first-degree misdemeanor. This means that you face the potential of imprisonment for up to one year and a $1,000 fine. If you receive a third or subsequent conviction, it is treated as a third-degree felony. This means that you face a potential five years of incarceration and a $5,000 fine. Sometimes these charges are brought in connection with a hit and run or DUI.
You are considered to have known about the suspension, cancelation, or revocation if you were previously cited, you admit to this knowledge, or you received proper notice of it. Any traffic citation that suspends, revokes, or cancels someone's driver's license is supposed to include a provision letting the driver know of this. There is a rebuttable presumption that you had knowledge if a judgment or order appears in the records for the case, unless it involves a departmental suspension for not paying a traffic fine or a financial responsibility violation. The court is allowed to consider evidence that you knowingly violated the law.
If you are convicted three times for driving with a suspended license within five years, you can be deemed a habitual traffic offender. Your driver's license can be revoked for five years, and you will not be able to get a hardship license for at least a year from the time of the last conviction. If you receive a habitual offender designation, and you keep driving and get caught, you can be charged with a third-degree felony.
Many people do not realize that driving on a suspended license is a criminal offense and that multiple convictions can result in increasingly harsh punishments. As with other crimes, the elements of driving while a license is suspended must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt. This is a high burden of proof, and there is a possibility that the prosecutor cannot prove that you knowingly drove on a suspended license. However, you can be charged non-criminally for driving on a suspended license without knowledge, and this also can result in penalties if you are convicted and have other driving while license suspended or DUI sanctions on your record over the past five years.
There may be potential defenses that a St. Petersburg criminal attorney can raise. For example, we may be able to show that your rights were violated before or during your detention. Or we might be able to argue that you had reason to believe that your license was reinstated or that your license had in fact been reinstated. We may be able to argue that you were unaware of the suspension or that the vehicle that you were using does not count as a "motor vehicle." Each case is unique, and we will consider all of the facts to determine a strong defense for you.Consult a Tenacious St. Petersburg Attorney to Fight Your Moving Violation
If you are seeking a tough, skillful trial lawyer to fight charges of driving while your license was suspended, Hanlon Law may be able to represent you. Our founder, Will Hanlon, has been providing dedicated criminal defense representation in these and other motor vehicle cases, such as reckless driving cases, since 1994. You can call Hanlon Law at 727.897.5413 or use our online form.