Driving While License Suspended
There are two types of charges for driving while your license is Suspended or Revoked in Florida. Driving while license suspended without knowledge is a civil infraction. Driving while license suspended with knowledge is a criminal offense. Paying a civil infraction by mail or in person is a conviction and will count as one of the three offenses that may cause you to be classified a Habitual Offender causing you licenses to be suspended for five (5) years. There are ways to keep a conviction off your record, an experienced attorney, can request that adjudication be withheld which will not result in a convict. If you have already paid the citation an attorney may be able to file a motion for rehearing (must be filed within 30 days) or a motion to withdraw your plea (must be filed within 60 days, or a motion to vacate the plea (must be filed within 2 years).
If you are charged with a criminal violation it may be possible to have the changed to driving without a valid license. If you can obtain a valid driver's I can often go back to court to resolve the case for a “no valid” driver's license, or other offense that will not result in a suspension of your driver's license. Even if you have already been adjudicated for the offense, an experienced attorney can file a Motion to Withdraw the plea within 60 days or a Motion to Vacate within 2 years of when you went to court or paid the ticket.
If the case goes to trial, the prosecutor must prove the following two elements beyond and to the exclusion of every reasonable doubt:
You drove a motor vehicle on a street or highway;
You knew that your Florida driver license was suspended, canceled or revoked;
Driving, with knowledge, that your license is suspended or revoked, or canceled is a criminal offense.
The grading of the offense is determined below:
First offense - Misdemeanor of the second degree
Second offense - Misdemeanor of the first degree
Third offense- Misdemeanor of the first degree
Third offense - Felony of the third degree (if previously convicted of a forcible felony)
New Law Passed in 2008
Florida Statute Section 322.34(10) prevents many third offenses for driving while license suspended or revoked from being prosecuted as felony offenses. Under this statute, a third conviction can only be punished as a felony if the driver has a prior conviction for a forcible felony and the suspension is not due to financially related issues.
A second or subsequent conviction of driving while a license has been suspended or revoked for violations related to financial issues is now a first-degree misdemeanor. These issues include:
Failing to pay child support;
Failing to pay any other financial obligation;
Failing to pay the civil penalty or appear in court;
Failing to maintain vehicle insurance;
Failing to comply with attendance or other requirements for minors; or
Having been designated a habitual traffic offender because of a suspension of a driver's license or driver privilege for any underlying violation listed above.
A first conviction for knowingly driving while license is suspended, revoked, or canceled for any of the underlying violations listed above reasons a person commits a misdemeanor of the second degree, punishable by up to 60 days in the county jail and/or a $500.00 fine.
A second or subsequent conviction for the same offense of knowingly driving while license is suspended, revoked, or canceled for any of the above listed reasons a person commits a misdemeanor of the first degree, punishable by up to 1 year in the county jail and/or a $1,000.00 fine.