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Practices - Driving on a Suspended License

California Vehicle Code 14601 - Driving on a Suspended License

Vehicle Code section 14601 makes it a misdemeanor to knowingly drive on a suspended or revoked license. The reason your license was suspended or revoked will determine which section of VC 14601 you will be charged with. A conviction for driving on a suspended or revoked license can result in jail time and large fines.

Although each section of CA Vehicle Code 14601 is a separate crime, all of them are related to driving on a suspended or revoked license. Vehicle Code 14601 charges are more serious than VC 12500 Driving Without a License.

If you have been convicted of VC 12500 Driving Without a License in the past, and are stopped without a California Driver’s License again, the DA’s office in Orange County may file your charge as a more serious VC 14601 violation even though an Orange County law enforcement officer wrote you a citation for VC 12500.

If you are an immigrant without a driver’s license, or know someone who faces VC 14601 charges and cannot obtain a California driver’s license, please contact us. Many of our clients are hard-working people whose only legal troubles come from the fact that they cannot obtain a driver’s license in California, yet must drive to work and take care of their families.

Again, it is important to note that to be convicted of a VC 14601 offense, the prosecution must prove that you knew your driver’s license was suspended or revoked at the time of driving.

VC 14601(a) – Driving Privilege Suspended/Revoked for Specific Offenses
VC 14601(a) makes it a crime to drive any vehicle that requires a license to operate when your license has been suspended or revoked due to:

  1. Reckless driving,
  2. Negligent or incompetent operation of a vehicle,
  3. Any mental or physical impairment that prevents you from driving safely,
  4. Alcohol or drug abuse.

If you have received notice from the DMV that it intends to suspend or revoke your license due to a violation of VC 14601, please call the criminal defense attorneys at the Law Offices of Pereira & Moffatt to represent you in your DMV hearing as well as your criminal case.

VC 14601.1(a) – The “Umbrella” statute
Vehicle Code 14601.1(a) is an ”umbrella” - it forbids you from driving any vehicle that requires a license to operate when your license has been suspended or revoked for any reason other than those listed in 14601(a), 14601.2, or 14601.5.

VC 14601.2(a) – Driving on a License Suspended/Revoked due to a DUI
If your California driver’s license was suspended or revoked due to a DUI conviction, you will be charged with VC 14601.2(a), the most serious charge under VC 14601. This section carries a minimum 10-day county jail sentence for a first offense, and minimum 30-day county jail sentence for a second offense.

Recent changes in California law also require the installation of an Ignition Interlock Device, or “IID”. This is a “Breathalyzer” device that is installed in your vehicle, and you must blow into it every time you wish to start your car. The breath sample must be free of alcohol for the vehicle to start.

When this device is installed in your car, you must pay for installation and maintenance of the device for the duration of your probation period. Many of our clients who have been convicted of 14601.2(a) Driving on a Suspended or Revoked License due to a DUI retain us to either modify or terminate their probation, so that they can remove the IID from their vehicle before the full probation term has completed.

VC 14601.3 – Driving on a License Suspended/Revoked due to being a “Habitual Traffic Offender”
The DMV will deem you a “Habitual Traffic Offender” when your California Driver’s License was suspended or revoked during a 12-month period when you were convicted of any of the following offenses:

  1. Two or more driving offenses such as Reckless Driving, DUI, Exhibition of Speed, or another VC 14601 violation,
  2. Three or more “general” traffic offenses such as speeding,
  3. Three or more accidents where someone was injured OR the property damage totaled $750 or more.

VC 14601.5 – Driving on a License Suspended/Revoked due to Refusal of BAC Test or DUI
If you drove when you knowingly had a suspended or revoked license due to:

  1. Refusal to submit to a California blood or breath test,
  2. Conviction of a DUI under age 21 when refusing to submit to a PAS or “Breathalyzer” test or having a BAC of .01% or higher,
  3. Refusing to submit to a PAS or “Breathalyzer” when suspected of DUI and on probation for a DUI conviction,
  4. Driving with a BAC of .01% or higher while on probation for a prior DUI conviction,
  5. Driving with a BAC of .08% or higher in violation of VC 23152(b)
  6. Driving with a BAC of .04% or higher in a vehicle requiring a commercial driver’s license.

How does the prosecutor prove that I knew my driver’s license was suspended or revoked?
To be convicted of a VC 14601 crime, the prosecutor must simply prove that you knew your license was suspended or revoked. There are three ways in which it can be presumed that you had knowledge of your driver’s license suspension/revocation:

  1. The California DMV mailed you a notice,
  2. A police officer informed you when you were arrested for a DUI or any other violation under 14601.5,
  3. A judge informed you at the time you were sentenced for one of the violations that will result in a suspension/revocation.

The criminal defense attorneys at the Law Offices of Pereira & Moffatt will investigate your case, and fight the presumption that you had notice of the suspension or revocation of your driver’s license.

You should also know that if your license has been suspended or revoked, after the period of suspension/revocation expires, you must take affirmative steps to get your driver’s license reinstated.

If you do not do so, you may still be convicted of a VC 14601 crime even though the period of suspension/revocation has expired. To avoid conviction, you must show that you took the necessary steps to obtain a valid driver’s license, or that you have completed all requirements of your probation.

What sort of penalties am I facing if I am convicted of VC 14601?
All VC 14601 violations have enhanced penalties for prior offenses. If you have had multiple convictions for VC 14601 crimes within a 5-7 year period, you will face stiffer penalties.

Your punishment may depend on the court’s examination of your case, including your prior driving history, whether you have prior 14601 convictions, or the reason your license was suspended.

Punishments are generally stiffer for VC 14601.2 convictions, those convicted of vehicular manslaughter, or Habitual Traffic Offenders.

Habitual Traffic Offenders may permanently lose their driver’s license, have their vehicle impounded, and face longer jail sentences.

The specific penalties associated with a VC 14601 conviction can vary. Please contact the criminal defense attorneys at the Law Offices of Pereira & Moffatt for more information, and to let us help fight your VC 14601 charges!

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