In Florida, driving while your driver’s license is suspended, revoked, cancelled or disqualified is a crime only if you knew that your license was suspended. This charge is prosecuted in County Court because it is a misdemeanor. However, if you have multiple prior convictions for Driving While License Suspended, the State Attorney’s Office can choose to charge you with a serious felony which exposes you to long probation sentences, jail or even prison.
Having convictions for DWLS on your record will have other effects on your life as well such as higher insurance premiums and inability to obtain certain types of jobs.
A Broward County Traffic Violation Lawyer Can Help
Your license could have been suspended for any number of reasons; DUI arrest or conviction, unpaid traffic tickets, lack of child support payment, failure to pay civil judgments or even too many traffic tickets on your record.
The most important thing to know about DWLS is that the State must prove that you had notice that your license was suspended. There are certain statutory types of notice that the State can rely on when charging you with DWLS. What this means is that you cannot simply deny that you knew about the suspension.
There are specific defenses and circumstances that an experienced criminal defense attorney will know to raise for your case. It is very important that you hire an experienced Criminal Defense Attorney to represent you for these charges.
Penalties for Driving with a Suspended License
1st Violation: up to 60 days in jail & a $500 fine (2nd Degree Misdemeanor)
2nd Violation: up to 60 days in jail & a $500 fine (1st Degree Misdemeanor)
3rd Violation: up to 5 years in prison & a $5,000 fine (3rd Degree Felony)
In addition, if you obtain 3 or more withholds of adjudication or convictions for DWLS within a 5 year period, the DMV will suspend your license for 5 years as a Habitual Traffic Offender (HTO). This will have a tremendous effect on your ability to work and survive in South Florida.
Contact a Broward County Traffic Violation Attorney
Depending on the circumstances in which you were driving or in actual physical control of the vehicle, you may completely avoid criminal charges. There are certain circumstances where the State is unable to prove that you had actual knowledge of your license suspension. In those types of cases the law only permits you to be charged with a Traffic Infraction, which is not a crime and is only punishable by a fine and court costs. Grant Schwarz is a former prosecutor and an experienced defense lawyer who can help you defend your rights and prove your innocence.
If you knowingly drove while your license was suspended, however, you may be charged with a misdemeanor. The penalties for a first or even second offense of DWLS are not that harsh, the effect of multiple convictions on your record has a compounded effect which makes it worse and worse each time you get caught driving on a suspended license. It is because of this potential future effect that you must treat these charges very seriously and hire an experienced criminal defense attorney like Grant Schwarz to represent you.