Caught Driving with a Suspended License? Be Prepared to Face Harsh Consequences

Like most people, you probably rely on your car to get to work, run errands, and perform other routine but important tasks. Having your license suspended could have a dire impact on your daily life, and may make driving with a suspended license tempting. Laws related to license suspension vary by state, but generally, if you violate a license suspension, you will face much harsher penalties. To avoid making a bad situation worse, do not get behind the wheel while your license is suspended, don't risk the penalties of driving with a suspended license. 

A license suspension can occur in several ways. The Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) in many states can order a “mandatory suspension,” which is a required suspension, for certain offenses. The DMV may also issue a “permissive suspension,” which is where it decides on a case-by-case basis whether a particular person’s license will be suspended. A judge can suspend a driver’s license as well if there is a conviction for a traffic offense, such as speeding or driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol or drugs. 

Although a driver’s license suspension is a serious matter, in most cases, it can be resolved by simply adhering to the court’s or DMV’s orders and avoiding driving with a suspended license. It is against the law to drive when your license is suspended, unless you have been specifically granted a special exception by the entity that issued the suspension. If you are caught, you will face severe consequences. Depending on the laws in your state and the reason for your suspension, your case could be treated as a crime or a violation. If the case is being treated as a violation, you could be saddled with hefty fines. On the other hand, if you are prosecuted criminally, you can be given jail time and forced to pay fines. In this instance, you would need a lawyer, and the court would appoint one to represent you if you could not afford your own.  

In addition to a jail sentence and fines, some states may suspend your car registration for driving with a suspended license. The court can also have your car impounded. This means that the car is towed and stored, leaving you responsible for the expensive costs of towing and storage, and the car will not be returned until all of these expenses are paid. If the car is not claimed and the costs are not paid within a certain time period, the car may be sold at public auction. Moreover, the registration of the car that you were driving at the time you were caught may be suspended, even if it is not your car, as long as it can be shown that the owner of the car knew that you did not have a valid driver’s license when he let you drive it. Another punishment that many states may use is to place an ignition interlock device on all cars registered in your name if your initial suspension was based on a DUI. This gadget prevents a car from starting if it detects that the driver’s breath-alcohol concentration is above a predetermined threshold after the driver exhales into it.

If you are facing license suspension, the best thing you can do is stay off the road. Confirm the exact dates of your suspension so that you do not unknowingly drive while it is still in effect. If for some reason you are charged with driving with a suspended license, you should immediately consult with an attorney, especially if the case is being prosecuted as a criminal matter. Many attorneys will defend these type of violations for a reasonable flat rate, and if you shop around you may find that the cost of lawyer to help defend you for driving on a suspended license is much less expensive than what you will end up paying otherwise.