The world moves at a fast pace. The days are full of balancing the demands of children, school, and work, and some days it seems impossible to fulfill every responsibility. Even though some obligations fall to the wayside every one in awhile, there are major consequences for those that should not be put off until another day. Did you know that your driver’s license can be suspended if you are caught driving without automobile insurance because you forgot to pay the insurance bill, because you didn’t remember to put your child support in the mail or, because it slipped your mind that you have an outstanding speeding ticket?
Driving on a Suspended or Revoked License in Virginia
In the Commonwealth of Virginia, driving with a revoked or suspended driver’s license is considered a Class 1 misdemeanor. If convicted of a Class 1 misdemeanor, the charge will stay on your criminal record permanently, impacting your ability to procure housing, employment and even security clearance.Furthermore, if you drive on a suspended license, you can face an extended period of license suspension, costly fines and jail time. If you have been charged with driving on a suspended or revoked license, it is in your best interest to work with an experienced traffic defense attorney has the knowledge to help you if you are being charged with driving on a revoked or suspended driver’s license. With the attorney’s assistance, you can determine the best defense for reducing your driving penalties or if possible, avoiding a conviction.
What Is the Difference Between a Driver’s License Suspension and Revocation?
In Virginia, the main difference between a driver’s license suspension and revocation is the requirements for getting your driving privileges reinstated.
When a driver’s license is suspended, you are temporarily not allowed to drive in Virginia for a certain time period. The time period varies, and it may range from six months to one year. After the suspension period is over, you must pay a fee and fulfill all other requirements in order to reinstate your driver’s license. Each circumstance has specific requirements, which can be found by contacting the DMV.
A revoked driver’s license is a more serious matter that can last for a set or indefinite time period, such as the case for those who are convicted of multiple DUIs. Similar to a license suspension, a license revocation requires you to complete a list of requirements, including the payment of a fee. However, a revocation differs from a suspension because instead of having your original license reinstated after fulfilling all requirements, you must get a new license. In order to receive a new license, you must retake and pass Virginia’s driver’s test.
What Reasons Cause a Driver’s License to Be Revoked or Suspended?
There are several reasons that cause a driver’s license to be revoked or suspended. In Virginia, a revocation or suspension may occur due to driving under the influence, reckless driving or other criminal charge. However, these consequences can happen when you have a medical condition that makes it too dangerous for you to drive or do not pay a fine. When you a reach a certain number of points on your driver’s license, you can also face a revocation or suspension. As listed by the DMV, there are certain circumstances that can result in a license suspension or revocation.
A driver’s license suspension can occur when:
- Accumulating too many driver’s license demerit points due to traffic violations.
- Driving while not carrying a valid, active insurance policy on your automobile.
- Failing to pay car accident judgments, jail fees, child support, court fines or Virginia’s uninsured motor vehicle, or UMV, fee.
- Getting a reckless driving conviction.
- Operating a vehicle with a BAC, or blood alcohol concentration, level over the limit specified by the law.
- Refusing the administration of a breathalyzer test if you are arrested for a DUI.
A driver’s license revocation can occur when:
- Accumulating too many driver’s license demerit points due to juvenile traffic convictions or infractions.
- Applying for a driver’s license using false information.
- Being convicted of a traffic or non-traffic drug offense.
- Being convicted of vehicular manslaughter whether it be voluntary or involuntary.
- Driving on a suspended license that was due from a DUI.
- Fleeing the seen of an accident.
- Having a medical condition such as motor function loss, impaired vision, seizures or any other issues that affect your ability to safely drive.
- Having three or more DUI convictions.
- Receiving a felony conviction for a motor vehicle related incident.
- Renewing a driver’s license on behalf of someone else.
- Taking another person’s driver’s test.
As stated in Virginia Code §46.2-301, driving a motor vehicle with a license that is suspended is considered a Class 1 misdemeanor. The potential consequences of this charge include a fine no greater than $2,500, up to one year of jail time and the cost of a reinstating your driver’s license. If you have three driving with a suspended license convictions in a ten-year span, you face anywhere from a 10-day minimum jail sentence to a one-year maximum jail sentence and a fine no greater than $2,500.
Virginia Code §46.2-301 also states that people convicted of driving on a revoked or suspended license face an extended revocation or suspension period equal to the initial revocation or suspension period. Therefore, if your license is suspended for one year, and you are caught driving with a suspended license, you could receive an additional year with no driving privileges. If you are convicted of driving with a revoked or suspended license, the state of Virginia may impound your car. If they do impound your car, you must pay all storage and impound fees before the state will release your vehicle.
There are other consequences besides the aforementioned statutory penalties, such as difficulty finding a job or housing and the inability getting security clearance due to having a criminal record. An increase in your car insurance rates is another likely consequence.
Defenses Against Driving While a License Is Suspended or Revoked?
When you are charged with driving while a license is suspended or revoked, the most commonly used defense is that you did not receive the DMV’s notice of a license suspension. For instance, if your driver’s license suspension is due to unpaid fines, it is possible that you were unaware that your driving privileges were suspended when the police officer pulled you over. The prosecutor must prove that you did know your license was suspended when you were pulled over; this proof can be shown by submitting the DMV’s letter. However, if you did not get the letter because it was sent to your old address and not forwarded to your new one, you may be able to successfully use this defense.
Another plausible defense is when the police officer who pulled you over did not have “reasonable articulable suspicion.” In other words, the police officer can only stop you when he believes you are in violation of another traffic law such as a broken taillight or speeding. If the police officer did not have a valid reason to pull you over, the charge may be dismissed. Our firm can examine the facts surrounding your charge, and we can determine viable defenses for your case as well as explain to you how to get the most favorable outcome.
How Can a Driver’s License Be Reinstated?
In some instances, a judge may reduce the penalties or dismiss the charge if you work on reinstating your license before your case is heard. If your license is suspended due to outstanding judgment costs or child support payments, you must get caught up and provide payment proof to the Virginia DMV. If the amount of demerit points on your license is the cause of your suspension, you may be able to lift your suspension by successfully finishing a driver improvement clinic. For a fee, a list of requirements specific to your situation is available.
You may also be eligible to receive a restricted license until your revocation or suspension period is complete. A restricted driver’s license may allow you to pick up your children as well as drive to church, school and work. If you are granted restricted driving privileges, you are required to fulfill all conditions as specified by the court and pay the DMV’s reinstatement fee before the restricted license is issued to you.
We Are Ready to Assist You!
The traffic defense attorneys at The Brown Firm PLLC are highly experienced negotiating all types of traffic offenses in Virginia. If you are facing a charged for driving on a suspended license or driving on a revoked license, contact us by phone or send us a message online with a description of your case. We offer free in-person or phone consultations so that you can understand your options before moving forward.