Driving while your driver’s license is suspended is a serious offense in Florida. We represent people who have been charged with ➠ Driving While License Suspended and ➠ Habitual Traffic Offender.
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What is Driving While License Suspended
322.34 Driving while license suspended, revoked, canceled, or disqualified.—
(1) Except as provided in subsection (2), any person whose driver license or driving privilege has been canceled, suspended, or revoked, except a “habitual traffic offender” as defined in s. 322.264, who drives a vehicle upon the highways of this state while such license or privilege is canceled, suspended, or revoked is guilty of a moving violation, punishable as provided in chapter 318.
(2) Any person whose driver license or driving privilege has been canceled, suspended, or revoked as provided by law, except persons defined in s. 322.264, who, knowing of such cancellation, suspension, or revocation, drives any motor vehicle upon the highways of this state while such license or privilege is canceled, suspended, or revoked, upon:
(a) A first conviction is guilty of a misdemeanor of the second degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083.
(b) A second conviction is guilty of a misdemeanor of the first degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083.
(c) A third or subsequent conviction is guilty of a felony of the third degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084.
As explained on my ⚖ Why Your Driver’s License is Suspended page, you can have your driver’s license suspended for many reasons.
This offense can be in two forms – a civil citation indicating that you “unknowingly” drove with a suspended driver’s license and a criminal ticket indicating that you “knowingly” drove with suspended driver’s license.
Driving With A Suspended Driver’s License
Knowingly driving while your license is suspended is a criminal offense. A first time charge is a misdemeanor of the second degree, the lowest criminal offense degree in Florida. However, it is punishable by up to 60 days in jail. Additionally, a second offense can be charged as a first degree misdemeanor and a third offense can be charged as a felony.
Do not plead guilty to a driving while license suspended offense without first consulting with a lawyer. Being found guilty of this offense can cause higher insurance rates, a black mark on your driving record that will exist forever, and worst – potential serious criminal and collateral penalties including up to a 5-year driver’s license suspension.
Civil Infraction; As Serious as Criminal Offense
Unknowingly driving with a suspended driver’s license is a civil infraction (like a speeding ticket). It can simply be paid (do not do just pay this kind of ticket), or you can provide proof that you have reinstated your license and then pay it, or take it to a hearing.
Every one of these “tickets” should be handled by a Traffic Lawyer. It is inexpensive, the ticket is typically dismissed, and you avoid future problems such as criminal charges or long term suspensions. See below regarding Habitual Traffic Offender status.
NOTE: Whether a ticket is issued as “knowingly” or “unknowingly” has nothing to do with whether you actually knew your license was suspended. It is totally up to the law enforcement officer that issues the ticket.
Anderson v. State, 87 So.3d 774 (Fla. 2012): For purposes of the crime of Driving While License Suspended, proof that the DMV mailed notice to the last known address that the defendant provided is sufficient to prove knowledge. The State is not required to prove “actual knowledge.”
Driving With An Expired Driver’s License
This offense also comes in two forms – civil infraction and criminal ticket. The difference is specifically due to how long the license has been expired. The penalties for these are not as bad as driving while license suspended, however a criminal ticket is a second degree misdemeanor and should be handled by a lawyer.
Driving Without Having a Florida Driver’s License
Typically designated as No Valid Driver’s License, this is also a misdemeanor offense that carries criminal penalties (incarceration, fine or probation) but does not have the same ramifications as Driving While License Suspended. Because it is always criminal you should seek the advice of experienced legal counsel.
Driving While License Suspended as Habitual Traffic Offender
The Habitual Traffic Offender [HTO] status is the most serious issue related to Driving While License Suspended tickets (either civil or criminal – it does not matter). Once you have been designated as a Habitual Traffic Offender your driver’s license will be suspended for 5-years. All it takes to be designated is being found guilty of driving with suspended driver’s license 3-times within a five year period.
If you have been caught driving while you are designated as a Habitual Traffic Offender you can be facing felony charges. You should immediately contact experienced legal counsel familiar with the HTO offense.
If you have been designated as a Habitual Traffic Offender and you are facing a 5-year suspension there may still be help. Often the 5-year suspension can be reversed. Contact an experienced Traffic Lawyer immediately.
The Penalties For Driving With a Suspended Driver’s License
Driving with a suspended license can be a crime under Florida law. There are several forms of this crime; driving with a suspended license, driving with an expired license, or no driver’s license at all. Each is unique and each carries serious penalties that you should avoid at all costs due to the potential long term ramifications they can cause.
These crimes are mostly misdemeanors with a maximum penalty of up to a year in jail. However, Driving While License Suspended can be a felony under certain circumstances carrying a maximum 5-year prison term.
Depending on the charge and your prior driving history, possible resolutions include:
- dropping charges,
- amending to a civil infraction,
- payment of costs and/or costs and fine,