Driving with a suspended license

California Vehicle Code 14601 and its related sections prohibit driving when you know that your driver’s license has been suspended or revoked. Although these offenses are misdemeanor crimes, you may be subjected to county jail time and substantial fines. Before you can be convicted of any of the above charges, the prosecutor must prove that you were driving with the knowledge that you weren’t permitted to do so.

Your license can be suspended or revoked by the DMV for driving recklessly; alcohol or drug abuse; a mental or physical disability; or beign declared a “negligent” or “incompetent” driver. As a catch-all, California Vehicle Code 14601.1 (a) vc makes it illegal for you to drive when you know that the DMV has suspended or revoked your license for any reason.

The most serious of the violations is driving if you knew your license was revoked or suspended because of a DUI conviction. This carries a minimum 10-day county jail sentence for a first time offense and a minimum 30-day county jail sentence for a second offense.

The prosecutor must prove only two facts to convict you of a California vehicle code 14601 violation. First, is that you drove while your California driver’s license was suspended or revoked and second, that you knew your California driver’s license was suspended or revoked at the time. The prosecution can prove knowledge if the DMV sent you a notice via 1st class mail, a police officer told you about the suspension or revocation when you were arrested, or a judge informed you of the suspension at the time he or she sentenced you. While there are many ways for the prosecution to prove knowledge, there are also many ways for a clever lawyer to rebut this knowledge and get your case dropped.

Remember, even once your suspension expires, you are not allowed to drive until you take affirmative steps to have your driving privilege reinstated.

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