Driving While License Suspended
If you received a citation for Driving While License Suspended, Revoked, or Canceled With Knowledge, then you should contact an experienced criminal defense attorney in Tampa, FL, to discuss the best way to fight the charge.
Without the proper representation, the charge for DWLSR might impact your criminal record, insurance rates, or cause a revocation of your driving privileges.
If insufficient evidence supports the charge, your attorney can fight to have it dismissed on the merits. The prosecutor might also reduce the charge to a less serious offense such as “no valid” license.
The penalties for DWLSR depend on a variety of factors including whether you had knowledge of the suspension, the number of prior convictions, and the reasons the license was suspended or revoked.
A DWLS without knowledge is a civil infraction punishable by a fine only. A violation of driving while license suspended with knowledge is charged as a second degree misdemeanor for a first offense.
Section 322.34(2)(a), F.S. The offense is often listed as “TRAF6075 (MS) DRIVING WHILE LICENSE CANC SUSP OR REVOKED.”
A second or subsequent conviction is reclassified from a second degree misdemeanor to a first degree misdemeanor. Section 322.34(2)(b), F.S.
A third or subsequent conviction is reclassified to a third degree felony if the violation or the most recent prior conviction is related to a violation of specified driving offenses including:
- 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; or
- fleeing and eluding.
Attorney for Driving While License Suspended Crimes in Tampa, FL
Our initial consultation is free. Bring a recent copy of your most recent citation and driving record with you to the consultation. If you do not have a copy of your driving record, we can order your record for you in the office for $23.00.
From our initial free consultation, we can help you develop a strategy to best protect your privilege to drive. If we can’t help you, we can discuss your eligibility to apply for a hardship license.
Contact us now for a free consultation to discuss the particular facts of your case.
Filing A Post-Conviction Motions in Vacate DWLSR Convictions
Even people charged with Felony Driving While License Suspended or Revoked because it is their third offense or because they drove as a Habitual Traffic Offender (HTO) may be able to get their driver’s license back by collaterally attacking the underlying offenses that caused the suspension.
We can help you petition the court to have an old charge taken off your record if you file a post-conviction motion. The post-conviction motion is similar to an appeal, except it is filed with the trial court instead of a higher appellate court. If you are successful in clearing old offenses off of your record, then you can reinstate your driver’s license.
Once your driver’s license is valid, it is more likely that the prosecutor will drop the charges completely, or at least reduce the charges to an offense that will not cause another suspension such as no valid driver’s license.
Until you get your license back, stop driving and contact an experienced Driving While License Suspended or Revoke attorney in Tampa, FL, to assist you today.
An Overview of Florida’s DWLSR Laws:
· Two types of offenses for Driving While License Suspended or Revoked
· Without Knowledge (a civil infraction)
· With Knowledge (a criminal offense)
· New Legislation Passed in 2008 Concerning Suspended Driver License
· Types of License Suspensions Imposed
· The Point System
· Other Reasons for a Driver’s License Suspension
· Drivers License Revocation
· Drivers License Notice of Cancellation
Did you receive a ticket for Driving While License Suspended?
Florida Statutes Section 322.34 provides for two types of offenses for Driving While License Suspended or Revoked in Florida:
- Driving while License Suspended WITHOUT Knowledge (a civil infraction)
- Driving while License Suspended WITH Knowledge (a criminal offense)
- the first offense is charged as a second degree misdemeanor
- the second offense is charged as a first degree misdemeanor
- depending on the circumstances, the third or subsequent offense might be charged as a third degree felony
The legal definitions of terms used in Florida’s DWLS statute in Section 322.34 include:
- Conviction – an act by a judge or jury that declares the guilt of a party upon which sentence or judgment is founded.
- Revocation – the termination of a driving privilege.
- Suspension – the temporary withdrawal of a driving privilege.
- Disqualification – applies to commercial driver license (CDL) holders when privileges to operate a commercial motor vehicle (CMV) is taken away after convictions of certain traffic violations.
- Cancellation – the act of declaring a driving privilege void and terminated.
- Adjudication – judgment.
- Adjudication withheld – the act wherein a judge or clerk of court chooses to refrain from adjudicating a case.
- Citation – another name for a ticket issued by a law enforcement officer.
- Withdrawl – applies to commercial drivers in Florida only when the term is used in place of suspension or revocation by indicating the CDL driver had his or her privilege withdrawn in another state.
What is the difference between a suspended or revoked driver’s license? Because both revocations and suspensions functionally prohibit a person from driving, the terms are often used interchangeably in the Florida Statutes.
The Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DHSMV) can revoke or suspend a driver’s license or driving privilege for several driving-related and non-driving-related reasons.
The term “revocation” means the driving privilege is terminated as provided in Section 322.01(36), F.S. On the other hand, suspension means the driving privilege is temporarily withdrawn as provided in Section 322.01(40), F.S.
Both revocations and suspensions can be indefinite or for a defined period of time, but only revocations in certain circumstances can be permanent. The base fee for the driver’s license reinstatement after revocation is $75, and the fee for reinstatement after the suspension is $45.
Most people do not realize that even a civil infraction ticket for “Driving While License Suspended Without Knowledge” can count as one of the three offenses in Florida that cause a Habitual Traffic Offender (HTO) revocation. If you paid the ticket without requesting and obtaining a withhold of adjudication for the civil infraction, then you were convicted.
On the other hand, if the person hired an attorney to go to court to obtain a withhold of adjudication or to have the infraction dismissed, then the civil infraction for Driving While License Suspended Without Knowledge does not count toward one of the three offenses that would cause a Habitual Traffic Offender (HTO) suspension.
Even if you have already been adjudicated for the offense, an experienced attorney may be able to file a Motion for Rehearing within 30 days, a Motion to Withdraw the plea within 60 days, or a Motion to Vacate within two (2) years of when you went to court or paid the ticket.
It is also possible to get criminal offenses for Driving While License Suspended with Knowledge reduced to another type of charge such as “no valid” driver’s license.
We may be able to help you lift the suspension or revocation by filing a motion to vacate a prior conviction. We can talk with you about ways you might be able to reinstate your driver’s license.
If you are able to obtain a valid driver’s license, we 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 elements beyond all reasonable doubt:
- The defendant drove a motor vehicle on a street or highway;
- The defendant knew that his Florida driver license was suspended, canceled or revoked;
- actual knowledge
- usually proven when the defendant admits that he knew that his driverls license was suspended, revoked or canceled;
- actual knowledge can also be proven if the judge said in open court that the license was canceled, suspended or revoked; or
- actual knowledge can sometimes be proven if the drive received a previous ticket and never got the license reinstate after that ticket.
- constructive knowledge
- under certain circumstances, the prosecutor may attempt to prove constructive knowledge by showing that the DMV mailed a letter to notify the driver of the suspension, canceled, or revoked, however, this showing can never be made if the suspension was related to failing to pay a ticket or failure to pay child support.
- actual knowledge
Senate Bill 1988 became effective on July 1, 2008. This new legislation, 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 legislation, 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 based on financially related issues.
The change in the law resulted from the absurd result of having persons with little criminal history serving Florida State Prison sentences for a victimless crime. The new suspended license law became effective on July 1, 2008.
The push for the legislation came after the Florida Criminal Justice Impact Conference (CJIC) found that passage of the bill would cause 129 fewer prison sentences per year, saving Florida taxpayers more than $1.3 million dollars each year.
Although this 2008 legislation is a step in the right direction, it does not address other selectively enforced and overly harsh laws concerning the prosecution of suspended license cases throughout Florida.
Since Florida Statute Section 322.34(10) became effective, a person whose underlying license suspensions or revocations were for violations enumerated in section 322.34(10)(a) will no longer be subject to the third-degree felony penalty as otherwise provided by section 322.34(2)(c) for driving with a suspended license for a third or subsequent time, provided the person does not have a prior forcible felony conviction.
Instead, under section 322.34(10)(b)(2), a second or subsequent conviction of driving while a license has been suspended or revoked for violations enumerated in section 322.34(10)(a) is now a first-degree misdemeanor.
The new section provides as follows:
(10)(a) Notwithstanding any other provision of this section, if a person does not have a prior forcible felony conviction as defined in s. 776.08, the penalties provided in paragraph (b) apply if a person’s driver’s license or driving privilege is canceled, suspended, or revoked for:
- Failing to pay child support as provided in s. 322.245 or s. 61.13016;
- Failing to pay any other financial obligation as provided in s. 322.245 other than those specified in s. 322.245(1);
- Failing to comply with a civil penalty required in s. 318.15;
- Failing to maintain vehicular financial responsibility as required by chapter 324;
- Failing to comply with attendance or other requirements for minors as set forth in s. 322.091; or
- Having been designated a habitual traffic offender under s. 322.264(1)(d) as a result of suspensions of his or her driver’s license or driver privilege for any underlying violation listed in subparagraphs 1.-5.
(b)1. Upon a first conviction for knowingly driving while his or her license is suspended, revoked, or canceled for any of the underlying violations listed in subparagraphs (a)1.-6., a person commits a misdemeanor of the second degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083.
2. Upon a second or subsequent conviction for the same offense of knowingly driving while his or her license is suspended, revoked, or canceled for any of the underlying violations listed in subparagraphs (a)1.-6., a person commits a misdemeanor of the first degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083.
The Notice of a Suspension from the Florida DHSMV
If you have a failure to pay or a failure to appear after receiving certain traffic tickets, citations, or infractions, the Court can issue a Florida D-6 suspension of your Driver’s License.
Additionally, other types of Suspensions Imposed by the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DHSM) can include:
- Habitual Traffic Offender – Five Year Suspension
- Failure to Appear in Court – Suspended Indefinitely
- Failure to Pay Citation – Suspended Indefinitely
- Failure to Pay Child Support – Suspended Indefinitely
- No Insurance – Suspended Indefinitely
- DUI Administrative Suspension – Six Months to Eighteen Months
- DUI Conviction – Six Months to Lifetime
- Possession of a Controlled Substance – Two Years
- Theft or Shoplifting – Six to Twelve Months
- Fraudulently Obtaining a Driver License – One Year
Your driver’s license can be suspended if you accrue too many points within a specified period. Under Florida Law, a point system has been established where certain traffic infractions have certain points assigned for that infraction depending on the seriousness of the traffic offense.
In determining the points and suspensions, the department of motor vehicles uses the conviction date for any particular infraction.
The best way to avoid the imposition of points is to request a court hearing to contest the ticket or to request a withhold of adjudication.
Points Assigned for Each Traffic Offense
If you simply pay the ticket or if you are adjudicated guilty by the court, then the following points will be assessed to your Florida driver license:
- 6 points — Crash caused by speeding violation
- 6 points — Leaving the scene of a crash with property damage greater than $50
- 4 points — Crash caused by any other moving violation
- 4 points — Reckless driving
- 4 points — Running a red light
- 4 points — Driving during restricted hours
- 4 points — Passing a stopped school bus
- 4 points — Unlawful speed more than 15 miles per hour over the speed limit
- 3 points — Driver in possession of open container of alcohol
- 3 points — Child restraint violation
- 3 points — All other moving violations
- 3 points — Parking on a highway outside the city limits
- 3 points — Unlawful speed 15 miles per hour or less over the speed limit
- 3 points — Toll Violations
If you accumulate enough points, the DHSMV will send you a notification of the suspension that is imposed without a preliminary hearing:
- if 12 points are assigned within a one year period, then the length of the suspension is 30 days;
- if 18 points are assigned within a one year period, then the length of the suspension is 90 days; or
- if 24 points are assigned within a one year period, then the length of the suspension is one year.
Ways to Avoid Getting Points on Your Florida Driver’s License
One of the easiest ways to avoid points after receiving a ticket for a moving violation (and a possible suspension for excessive points) is by attending attend traffic school pursuant to Florida Statutes Section 318.14(9). The traffic school election can be made once a year.
The traffic school election can only be made five (5) times within any ten (10) year period. You can attend traffic school either before or after paying the ticket, however, the ticket must be paid within thirty (30) days after you receive the citation.
Before you pay the fine notify the clerk of court for the county in which you received the ticket of your intention to take the traffic school election.
Many times the clerk of court will require you to fill out an affidavit showing that you elect to take traffic school and showing that you are eligible for such an election.
Unfortunately, the traffic school election to avoid the conviction and points is not available to anyone with a commercial driver’s license. You can take the traffic school by attending a live class or by completing an online class.
You are eligible for a hardship license after a point suspension if you take an examination, complete a twelve (12) hour Advanced Driving Improvement (ADI) Course, pay a fee for reinstatement, and pay additional fees for the hardship license.
If you have already received the points because you simply paid the ticket without receiving a withhold after the traffic school election, or by going to court to fight the ticket, then you may still be eligible to hire an attorney to file a motion to vacate or set aside the conviction.
At the Sammis Law Firm, P.A., we have successfully helped clients vacate certain moving violations in order to remove the conviction and points. Once the conviction is vacated, then the driver’s license suspension or revocation for excessive points is lifted.
Other reasons for a driver’s license suspension include:
- failure to pay child support – If you fail to pay child support then your driver’s license can be suspended indefinitely until you present an affidavit from the clerk of court or child support agency demonstrating that you have come into compliance with your child support obligations and pay a reinstatement fee of $25.
- failure to attend a court-ordered traffic school – If the court orders you to attend traffic school and you fail to do so within the time allotted by the court, then you must contact the court that issued the requirement, comply with the traffic summons, and show a certificate of successful completion of the traffic school course, and pay a reinstatement fee of $25. You are allowed to attend traffic school only once a year with a maximum of five-lifetime opportunities.
- being found incapable of operating a motor vehicle – If you are found incapable of operating a motor vehicle you will receive a 12-month suspension without any opportunity to apply for a hardship license. Once the one-year hard suspension is completed, you can request a hearing and apply for reinstatement.
Codes for Medical Suspensions of a Driver’s License
The DHSMV’s codes for the medical suspension include:
- 06 Incapable OP MV Safely – Failed Exam
- 53 Incapable OP MV – Subject to Seizures
- 54 Incapable OP MV – Habitual Drunkard
- 55 Incapable OP MV – Addict/Hab Use Narc
- 56 Incapable OP MV – Blackouts
- 58 Incapable Operating MV Safely
You can demand an administrative hearing to review the record if you receive an order of revocation. The codes for such an indefinite medical revocation of driving privileges include:
- 78 Incapable Operate Motor Vehicle Safely – Medical
- 82 Incapable Op MV – Blackouts
- 96 Incapable Operating MV Safely
- 97 Incapable OP MV – Subject to Seizures
Read more about hiring an attorney to contest the medical revocation under Section 322.211(2)(c)-(3).
Your driver’s license can be revoked for a period of six months to a lifetime revocation. A revocation can occur for any of the following types of convictions:
- possession of a controlled substance;
- vehicular manslaughter;
- felony in which a vehicle was used;
- being involved in an act of prostitution in a motor vehicle or other lewd act;
- leaving the scene of a crash when another person was injured or died;
- perjury in a court of law; or
- for a similar crime in another state.
Other issues can cause a revocation including:
- A court order of suspension for certain traffic offenses;
- Failure to meet minimum vision requirements; or
- Certain medical conditions until the medical condition improves.
Your driver’s license can be canceled for any of the following reasons:
- Supplying fraudulent information on a driver license application;
- Failing to comply with a court-ordered requirement;
- Failure to comply with a DUI requirement; or
- Failure to complete a four-hour traffic school course after being responsible for a crash involving serious injury of another.
Florida Highway Patrol Procedures for a DWLS
The standard operating procedures for the Florida Highway patrol in policy 17.06-5, govern the procedures troopers should use when a person is under investigation for driving while their license is suspended or revoked.
In these cases, a UTC should be issued, and if the violation is of a serious nature, a custodial arrest should be made. The trooper is required to consider the number and types of previous suspensions and revocations in determining whether a custodial arrest is appropriate.
The trooper will not allow any person whose driver’s license is not valid or who does not possess a driver’s license to operate a motor vehicle. The trooper will assist any such person in obtaining alternate transportation from the scene or locating a properly licensed driver to assume control of the motor vehicle.
If the trooper seizes a Florida driver’s license for any violation involving a confirmed suspension, revocation, or cancellation, the driver’s license will be destroyed by shredding unless such license is considered evidence in a criminal case and is entered into the appropriate evidence/property room per policy. At the conclusion of the case, the license will be shredded to adhere to this policy.
If driver license fraud is suspected, or the driver’s license is lost property or evidence, the driver’s license will be submitted into the evidence function according to the Evidence/Property Procedures Manual. Seized out-of-state driver licenses will be submitted by the seizing member to the Bureau of Motorist Compliance (MS 87) at GHQ.
Traffic Homicide Investigators with the Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) will follow the procedures outlined in the Traffic Homicide Investigations Manual concerning the disposition of driver licenses.
Finding a DWLS or DWLSR Attorney in Tampa, FL
Any ticket for driving while license suspended, whether civil or criminal is serious. Order a copy of your driving record and contact an experienced Tampa criminal defense attorney.
We can help you fight to avoid the serious penalties in a Driving While License Suspended or Revoked case.
The best result is getting the charges dropped or dismissed on the merits. Even if overwhelming evidence supports the charge, mitigating factors might convince the prosecutor to reduce the charges to a less serious offense, such as “no valid” license.
Whether you have received a ticket for driving while license suspended, revoked or canceled in Tampa, Hillsborough County, Pinellas County, Polk County, Pasco County, or any of the surrounding counties, contact a criminal defense attorney that is well-versed in the traffic laws of the state of Florida to assist you today.
We fight criminal driving and traffic offenses.
Call (813) 250-0500 today.
This article was last updated on Tuesday, April 19, 2022.