News & Commentary from a Santa Ana Traffic Ticket Lawyer
What are the penalties for driving without a license or a suspended license in California?
RECEIVING A TICKET OR BEING STOPPED BY THE POLICE FOR NOT HAVING A VALID DRIVER LICENSE OR FOR DRIVING WITH A SUSPENDED LICENSE IS A MISDEMEANOR CRIME IN CALIFORNIA.
A person faces serious penalties when he or she is stopped by police for driving a vehicle when that person’s driving privilege has been suspended or revoked. The consequences for such an offense depends on whether the person’s driving privilege was suspended or revoked as a result of a conviction for reckless driving while having consumed alcohol, a conviction for driving while under the influence of alcohol or drug, or a conviction other than an alcoholic or drug related offense.
The California Vehicle Code (“CVC”) states the types of offenses and their related penalties whenever a person is charged with having driven a vehicle while his or her privilege to drive was suspended or revoked. The most common enumerated offenses are violation of CVC 14601, CVC 14601.1, and CVC 14601.2. Keep in mind it is not a defense to claim that a person did not have or possess a driver’s license and therefore should not be charged with any of these offenses. The Code is clear that a person shall not drive when his or her driving “privilege” is suspended or revoked as opposed to driver’ “license”. In effect, license is not an element to be considered when a person is charged with any of the above offenses.
CALIFORNIA VEHICLE CODE SECTION 14601
CVC 14601(a) states that a person shall not drive a motor vehicle at any time when that person’s driving privilege is suspended or revoked for reckless driving in violation of Section 23103, 23104, or 23105 (these sections refer to convictions for reckless driving). 14601(a) also states that a person shall not drive a motor vehicle at any time when that person’s driving privilege has been suspended or revoked for situations when the DMV refuses to issue or renew a driver license because that person is rendered incapable of safely operating a motor vehicle because of alcoholism, drug addiction or habitual use of drugs, or if a person has a disorder characterized by lapses of consciousness (CVC 12806), or if the person has been considered a negligent operator by the DMV (CVC 12810.5). CVC 14601(a) does require that a person driving under the above situations must have knowledge of the suspension or revocation of his or her driving privilege. If the DMV mailed notice of the suspension or revocation to that person as required by CVC 13106 then “knowledge” of the suspension or revocation will be conclusively presumed. Knowledge of the suspension or revocation will need to be proven in order for a person to be found guilty of CVC 14601(a).
The penalty for a violation of CVC 14601(a) does depend on how many convictions a person has had in the past for violating CVC 14601(a). If this is a person’s first conviction for this offense, then a person can face jail time in the county jail for not less than 5 days or not more than 6 months and also pay a fine of $300.00 to no more than $1000.00.
If a person is charged with violating CVC 14601 (a), and this new charge occurs within 5 years of a prior conviction for any of the following: 14601, 14601.1, 14601.2 or 14601.5, then that person will face jail time in a county jail for not less than 10 days or not more than one year and pay a fine of $500.00 to $2000.00.
If a person is charged with violating CVC 14601 (a), and this new charge occurs within 5 years of a prior conviction for any of the following: 14601, 14601.1, 14601.2 or 14601.5, and is given probation for the new offense, the court shall also impose as part of the probation, jail time in the county jail for at least 10 days.
CALIFORNIA VEHICLE CODE SECTION 14601.1
CVC 14601.1 is the provision that applies when a driver is driving a motor vehicle when that driver’s driving privilege is suspended or revoked for any reason other than those indicated in Sections 14601, 14601.2 or 14601.5 (i.e., 14601 and 14601.2 apply to driving with a suspended license when such suspension occurred as a result of a conviction for reckless driving or for DUI). Again, as indicated under CVC 14601, violations for 14601.1 do require that knowledge of the suspension or revocation as an element that must be proven in order to be found in violation of CVC 14601.1. The punishment one can face for violating CVC 14601.1 include punishment in the county jail for no more than six months or by fine of $300.00 to $1000.00, or both jail time and payment of a fine, for a first conviction.
Seek immediate legal help whenever you are being charged with violating CVC 14601. Never go to court alone. You are no match for an aggressive prosecutor who can care less how this charge can affect your future and your family. Contact the Gonzalez Law Firm and get help immediately.
CALIFORNIA VEHICLE CODE SECTION 14601.2
CVC 14601.2 states that no person shall drive a motor vehicle at any time when that person’s driving privilege has been suspended or revoked for a conviction of a violation of CVC 23152 or 23152, that is, driving under the influence. The penalties for a violating CVC 14601.2 can be significant. Again, it must be proven that the person had knowledge of the suspension or revocation when that person drove a motor vehicle. Knowledge of a suspension or revocation is considered conclusively presumed (meaning without a doubt) by the court when notice of the suspension or revocation has been mailed to the person by the Department of Motor Vehicles pursuant to VC 13106. Knowledge of the suspension or revocation is considered presumed (rather than conclusively presumed) when a court has given notice to the person that his or her license would be suspended at the time when that person received a conviction for violation of CVC 23152 or 23153. The element of presumption as indicated in 14601.2 affects who has the burden of proving whether a person had knowledge of his or her suspension or revocation of the driving privilege.
The penalty for a first conviction for violation under 14601.2 is a mandatory of 10 days minimum in county jail but not more than 6 months of jail. In addition, there is penalty fine from $300 to $1000, unless the person has been considered a habitual offender thus triggering a harsher penalty including increased mandatory minimum times in jail depending upon that person’s history of violations for driving when his or her driving privilege was either suspended or revoked.
CVC 14601.2 (b)(2) further provides that a person who has within 5 years been convicted of a prior offense resulting in a conviction for violating CVC 14601, 14601.1 or 14601.5 then the penalty imposed for being in violation of CVC 14601.2(b)(2) shall be county jail time for not less than 30 days and/or a penalty fine from $500 to $2000.00. Again, the penalties for jail time and fines will increase if the person is considered a habitual offender of the Vehicle Codes applicable to driving with a suspended or revoked license.
If you have been charged with a traffic violation or driving without a valid drivers license in California, seek immediate help from a top Orange County traffic violation defense lawyer who has experience with traffic violations. It’s unwise to go to court alone when facing a legal issue with your license. You are no match for an aggressive prosecutor who care less about you and how a license violation charge may affect your future or your family.
Contact the experienced traffic ticket defense lawyers at the Gonzalez Law Firm. You will get immediate help and the right legal defense. Your initial consultation is free so call and speak with a Christian Attorney that cares about you and your future at: 877.345.2997