Driving While License Suspended (DWLS) Charges in Florida
There are many reasons your driver’s license can be suspended. Some common reasons are directly related to your driving. These reasons include a DUI conviction, a refusal to take a breath test, obtaining too many points on your driving record, driving without insurance, and some other serious driving offenses. You can lose your driving privileges for non-driving reasons too such as failing to pay child support or failing to appear in court.
Florida is a difficult state to get around if you don’t have a driver’s license. Most people need their license to drive to work, perform daily chores like food shopping, get to medical appointments, and just enjoy life.
Many people risk driving while their license is suspended because having a car is so essential. If the police learn that your drove while our license is suspended, your license could be suspended for years or even revoked. Worse, you could be charged with a crime that could land you in jail and could require payment of expensive fines.
Florida §322.34 makes it a crime to knowingly drive while your license is suspended, revoked, canceled, or disqualified. This statute provides that:
- You will be charged with a moving violation.
- You will be charged with a misdemeanor of the 2nd-degree for a first-time offense. You could be sentenced to up to 60 days in jail and fined up to $500.
- You will be charged with a misdemeanor of the 1st-degree for a subsequent offense. You could be sentenced to up to 364 days jail and fined up to $1,000.
- You can be charged with a 3rd-degree felony for a third offense or subsequent offense if the latest reason for the suspension included:
- Driving under the influence
- Refusal to submit to a urine, breath-alcohol, or blood alcohol test
- A traffic offense causing death or serious bodily injury
- Fleeing or eluding.
If you are convicted of a 3rd-degree felony, you could be sentenced up to 5 years in prison and fined up to $5,000.
What does the prosecution need to show to prove a DWLS charge?
The government of Florida must prove:
- You were driving a vehicle
- Your driver’s license was suspended, revoked, or canceled while you were driving the vehicle.
- You knew that your license was suspended, revoked, or canceled.
In most cases, the government, through the testimony of the police officer who stopped you, can show that you were driving. The government can introduce your driving record to show your license was suspended, revoked, or canceled.
The toughest element of proof for the government is showing that you knew of the suspension, revocation, or cancellation. The government can prove knowledge if:
- You were previously cited for a DWLS.
- You admit to knowledge of the suspension, revocation, or cancellation (Caveat. Don’t admit anything to the police until if you’ve hired a defense lawyer).
- You received notice that you couldn’t drive.
Habitual Traffic Offender Status
Florida will define you as a “Habitual traffic offender” if you have “accumulated:
- Three or more convictions of any one or more of the following offenses arising out of separate acts:
- Voluntary or involuntary manslaughter resulting from the operation of a motor vehicle.
- Any violation of certain specific sections.
- Any felony in the commission of which a motor vehicle is used.
- Driving a motor vehicle while his or her license is suspended or revoked.
- Failing to stop and render aid as required under the laws of this state in the event of a motor vehicle crash resulting in the death or personal injury of another.
- Driving a commercial motor vehicle while his or her privilege is disqualified.
- Fifteen convictions for moving traffic offenses for which points may be assessed
If you are convicted of driving while your license was suspended,
What defenses are used if you are charged with Driving While License Suspended with Knowledge?
Some of the possible defenses to a DLWS with knowledge charge are that the government:
- Cannot prove you were driving a vehicle.
- Cannot prove your license was suspended, revoked, or canceled.
- Cannot prove that you had knowledge of the suspension, revocation, or cancellation.
- Cannot show that the police had grounds to stop you.
Another possible defense is that someone stole your identity and gave your driver’s license to the arresting police officer.
If you are charged with a DWLS crime, you should ask to speak with your knowledge. In a DWLS with knowledge offense, your admission that you knew of the suspension can and will be used against you.
Skilled defense lawyers work to have the charges dismissed or reduced to lesser charges such as a DLWS without knowledge.
A DLWS without knowledge
If you are stopped with driving while license suspended – without knowledge, then you will likely be charged with a civil violation since “knowledge” is required for a criminal violation.
If you are charged with a civil DWLS, you still should speak with an experienced defense lawyer. While the fine may be minimal, if you pay the fine or judge guilty, points will be added to your license. These points will increase your insurance rates. Your license could also be suspended for five years as a habitual offender since, as discussed above, a DWLS is considered a moving violation. If you have 15 moving violations in one year or you had a prior DWLS offense, you will be considered a habitual offender.
The government does not need to prove you had knowledge to suspend your license for five years – if you are a habitual offender.
Our skilled defense lawyers also Request a copy of your driver’s record so it is clear what offenses are on record.
Schedule an appointment with an Indian River County DWLS lawyer today
At Lulich & Attorneys, our Vero Beach and Sebastian criminal defense lawyers represent drivers charged with driving while their license is suspended. We work aggressively to dismiss. reduce the charges, or obtain an acquittal. To schedule an appointment with an experienced Indian River County criminal defense lawyer, call us at 772-589-5500 or fill out our contact form.