Driving With a Suspended License Attorneys Palm Beach and Broward County

 

In Florida, Driving While License Suspended, Revoked or Cancelled with Knowledge is a crime. This crime can be charged as either a second degree misdemeanor, first degree misdemeanor or a third degree felony depending on the amount of prior convictions for the same offense.

Definition Driving With a Suspended License

To prove the crime of Driving While License Suspended, Revoked or Cancelled with Knowledge, the State must prove the following three elements beyond a reasonable doubt:

  1. The Defendant drove a motor vehicle upon a highway in this state.
  2. At the time, the Defendant’s license or driving privilege was suspended, revoked or canceled.
  3. At the time, the Defendant drove a motor vehicle upon a highway in this state, Defendant knew that his or her license or driving privilege was suspended, revoked or cancelled.

What is a highway?

Florida Statute 322.01(39) states that a, “Street or Highway” means the entire width between the boundary lines of every way or place if any part thereof is open to the use of the public for purposes of vehicular traffic.

What if I’m driving in a private neighborhood or apartment complex? Courts have determined that roads within a private neighborhood or apartment complex do not constitute a “street or highway”, because the roads are not open to the use of the public. Therefore, a driver arrested in this situation, cannot as a matter of law be convicted of Driving While License Suspended, Cancelled or Revoked.

What is a motor vehicle?

Florida Statute 322.01(27), states that a “Motor vehicle” means any self-propelled vehicle, including a motor vehicle combination, not operated upon rails or guideway, excluding vehicles moved solely by human power, motorized wheelchairs, and motorized bicycles.

Florida case law states that Mopeds and Electric Scooters are motor vehicles, requiring a driver of a Moped or Electric Scooter to have a valid driver’s license. This includes vehicles with an engine under 50 cc. 

What is meant by Knowledge?

To convict a Defendant of Driving While License Suspended, Revoked or Cancelled with Knowledge, the prosecutor must prove that the Defendant knew his or her license or driving privilege was suspended. The knowledge element may be satisfied by a jury finding that:

  1. Proof of an existing entry in the records of the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles showing that notice of the suspension, revocation, or cancellation was given by personal delivery to the Defendant.
  2. Proof of an existing entry in the records of the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles showing that notice of the suspension, revocation, or cancellation was deposited in United States mail, first class, postage prepaid, addressed to the licensee at his or her last known mailing address furnished to the department.
  3. The Defendant was previously cited for Driving While License Suspended, Revoked or Cancelled and his or her license had not been reinstated.
  4. The Defendant admitted to knowing of the suspension, revocation or cancellation.
  5. The Defendant had received a traffic citation containing a provision notifying the Defendant that his or her license had been suspended, revoked or canceled.
  6. The Defendant had received a judgment or order rendered by a court or an adjudicatory body containing a provision notifying the defendant that his or her license had been suspended, revoked or canceled.
  7. The records of the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles includes a judgement or order rendered by a court or an adjudicator body containing a provision notifying the defendant that his or her license had been suspended, revoked or cancelled. The jury is permitted to assume that the defendant knew his or her license was suspended, revoked or cancelled. The presumption is rebuttable, and the presumption may be accepted or rejected.

The jury is not provided with the language contained in 6 or 7 above if the driver’s license suspension or cancellation was due to failure to pay a traffic fine or financial responsibility violation. An example of a financial responsibility violation is not paying for car insurance.

Penalties for Driving While License Suspended, Revoked or Cancelled

Florida Statute Section 322.34 states that a first conviction for Driving While License Suspended is a second degree misdemeanor, punishable by up to 60 days in jail or 6 months of probation with a $500 fine. A second conviction may be charged as a first degree misdemeanor, punishable by up to 1 year in the county jail or 12 months of probation with a $1,000 fine. A third or subsequent conviction may be charged as a third degree felony, punishable by up to 5 years in state prison, or 5 years of probation with a $5,000 fine.

Defenses to Driving While License Suspended, Revoked or Cancelled

There are many ways to defend and defeat a charge for driving while license suspended, revoked or cancelled, including:

  • The State can’t prove the Defendant was driving.
  • Insufficient proof of notice of the suspension, cancellation or revocation to the Defendant.
  • The Defendant wasn’t driving on a public highway.
  • Fourth Amendment challenges pertaining to the legality of the traffic stop.
  • The Defendant’s license had been reinstated.
  • Vacating a prior conviction for Driving while license suspended.

In many situations, even without a defense, we can negotiate with the Assistant State Attorney to reduce the charge to No Valid Driver’s License. A reduction to a No Valid Driver’s License charge is important, because it does not have the effect of making someone a habitual traffic offender.

Habitual Traffic Offender

Pursuant to Florida Statute 322.264, a “Habitual Traffic Offender”, is any person whose record, as maintained by the Department of HIghway Safety and Motor Vehicles, shows that such person has accumulated the specified number of convictions for offenses described in subsection (1) or subsection (2) within a 5-year period:

  1. Three or more convictions of any one or more of the following offenses arising out of separate acts:

    1. Voluntary or involuntary manslaughter resulting from the operation of a motor vehicle;
    2. Driving Under the Influence;
    3. Any felony in the commission of which a motor vehicle is used;
    4. Driving a motor vehicle while his or her license is suspended or revoked;
    5. Failing to stop and render aid as required under Florida law in the event of a motor vehicle crash resulting in the death or personal injury of another; or
    6. Driving a commercial motor vehicle while his or her privilege is disqualified.
  2. Fifteen convictions for moving traffic offenses for which points may be assessed, including those offenses listed in subsection (1).

For Example, one conviction for driving under the influence and two convictions for driving on a suspended license, all convictions within 5 years of each other, will result in a 5 year driver’s license revocation.

What are the Penalties for being a Habitual Traffic Offender?

A Habitual Traffic Offender will have his or her license suspended for a period of 5 years. Additionally, an arrest for driving on suspended, cancelled or revoked license as a Habitual Traffic Offender may be charged as a 3rd degree felony, punishable by up to 5 years in state prison.

Contact Us

If you have been charged with Driving With a Suspended License in Palm Beach County, Broward County, or Martin County, contact a
Palm Beach criminal defense attorney from Bottari & Doyle at (561)-588-2781 for a free consultation.