Driving on a Suspended or Revoked License – California Vehicle Code 14601
Los Angeles County Criminal Courts strictly enforce a driver's license suspension. California Vehicle Code 14601 makes it a crime to drive a vehicle if you know your license has been suspended or revoked.
If police pull you over on a routine traffic stop and they learn you have a suspended license, you could face charges under VC 14601. Driving on a suspended license in California is a misdemeanor crime – and if you are involved in an accident – you could face penalties.
It should be noted you can be found guilty of driving on a suspended license if it was revoked or suspended for a wide range of reasons. The most common include:
- California DUI conviction
- Negligent operator for excessive points on driving record
- Failure to appear in court after a summons for a traffic ticket
- Failure to pay fine after a court appearance
It's important to note that to be convicted of driving on a suspended driver's license; it must be proven you knew it was suspended.
Our Los Angeles criminal defense law firm, has a record of success dealing with Vehicle Code 14601 issues. We have successfully negotiated these cases to a lesser offense with only community service as the punishment. Again, the prosecutor has to prove you knew your driver's license was suspended or revoked.
To give readers a better understanding of VC 14601 driving on a suspended driver's license crime, our criminal defense attorneys are providing an over below.
Definition of VC 14601 Driving with Suspended License
California Vehicle Code 14601 defines driving with a suspended license as:
No person at any time shall drive a motor vehicle when their driving privilege was suspended or revoked for reckless driving, or any reason that authorizes the DMV to refuse to issue a license, negligent or incompetent operation of a motor vehicle, if the driver has knowledge of the suspension or revocation. Knowledge is presumed if a notice was mailed notice or given the person, under Section 13106.
The definition above for driving on a suspended or revoked license has two important and distinct elements of the crime listed under CALCRIM 2220 Jury Instructions:
- You were driving a vehicle while your California driver's license was suspended or revoked, and
- You knew your driving privileges were suspended or revoked at the time you were driving
The key factor of VC 14601 is the presumption of knowledge. As you can see from the definition, California law presumes you had knowledge of a driver's license suspension or revocation – if the DMV sent you notice prior to driving on a suspended license. Vehicle Code 14601.4 VC defines the crime of driving on a suspended or revoked license causing injury.
DMV Mails Notice of License Suspension
Normally, the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) will send you a notice by mail informing you that your license has been suspended or revoked. It will be sent to your most recent address that you reported to them.
In cases where the suspension notice was mailed to an invalid address and then returned back to the DMV – you are NOT presumed to know that your driver's license was suspended.
However, there is a presumption of knowledge that your driving privileges were suspended or revoked if law enforcement serves you with a notice of the suspension or revocation – and confiscates your license – which is a normal procedure after a DUI arrest.
Additionally, there is also a presumption of knowledge of driving on a suspended license when a judge informs you at the time you were sentenced for violations that result in a suspension.
Common Reasons for a Driver's License Suspension
The California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) or court can suspend your driver's license for many different reasons. The most common are:
- Driving under the influence
- Reckless driving
- Negligent operation – excessive points on driving record
- Failure to appear in court after a traffic ticket summons
- Failure to pay a traffic court fine
- Failure to pay child support
- Failure to provide proof of SR-22 car insurance
- Alcohol or drug abuse incidents
- Medical condition
Penalties for VC 14601 Driving with a Suspended License
If convicted of California Vehicle Code 14601 driving on a suspended license in Los Angeles County, you could face jail time, a fine, or both jail and a fine.
The legal penalties will always depend on various factors, including – why your license was suspended – any prior convictions for driving with a suspended license – and your driving history.
If your driver's was suspended for other reasons, you could face up to six months in county jail and a fine up to $1,000, or both, on a first offense.
If convicted of a second offense of driving on a suspended license, you could face up to one year in a county jail, a fine up to $2,000, or both.
Fighting Vehicle Code 14601 Charges
If you were charged with Vehicle Code 14601 driving with a suspended license, our Los Angeles criminal defense lawyers can use various strategies for the best possible outcome. We may be able to get the charges reduced or dismissed. The most common defenses include:
Lack of knowledge or defect with a license suspension notice
We might be able to make a reasonable argument your notice of a driver's license suspension was mailed to an old address, and you simply never received it. Likewise, we might be able to prove you were never informed of the suspension by police or a judge and simply didn't know it was suspended.
Lack of probable cause
We might be able to argue police didn't have probable cause to pull you over on a traffic stop in the first place. If we prove it was an unlawful traffic stop, you can't be guilty of driving on a suspended driver's license.
If you were charged with driving on a suspended or revoked license that violated California Vehicle Code 14601, contact our Los Angeles criminal defense attorneys to review the details and legal options. We have a record of success defending clients against traffic-related issues.
Cron, Israels & Stark serves clients throughout Los Angeles County, and our office is located at 11755 Wilshire Blvd, 15th Floor, Los Angeles, CA 90025. Call us at (424) 372-3112 for a free case evaluation.