Driving on a Suspended License is Serious
If you are charged with driving on a suspended license in Virginia, don’t write it off as a “fix it ticket.” The charge most likely won’t be dismissed simply by getting your license fixed. Talk to a lawyer who can tell you what you’re really facing.
I had this video transcribed for visitors who prefer to read the content.
Hello, I’m Andrew Flusche. Driving on suspended is a very serious offense that I think a lot of people dismiss and disregard as not being that serious. It’s under the code section 46.2-301 and what it says is that any person whose license is suspended cannot operate a motor vehicle in the Commonwealth of Virginia. That’s a thumbnail summary of the statute; it is rather long.
Basically what happens to a lot of people is if you forget to pay a court fine or if a court suspends you for another violation and then you later on drive a vehicle while suspended, you could be convicted of this class 1 misdemeanor.
The problem that I see a lot and hear from a lot of people is “Oh, if I get my license reinstated and it’s fixed before the court date then they’ll just drop the charges.” The bad news is that’s not normally the case. In some courts they will do that on your first offense perhaps, but not in all courts, and most likely not when it’s not a fist offense. So if you’ve had a prior offense of driving on suspended and this is your second or subsequent more than that, you’re not looking at having the charge dropped if you get your license fixed. Again, in most courts they won’t even do that; they might reduce the charge to a lesser charge like not having a valid license or not having a license in your possession, which is only a $10 fine, but in a lot of courts they won’t just simply dismiss it for having your license fixed.
It’s one of those kinds of regulatory offenses, since it’s not endangering anyone. That’s one reason that people don’t take it too seriously, because nobody is in danger and that is not what the Commonwealth would argue, but it is the law. The law says that you can’t drive while you’re suspended and it is a misdemeanor. It’s the same level of misdemeanor as a DUI. It’s not stigmatized like a DUI but it is the same level of offense.
The important thing that people need to remember is if you’ve had two prior driving on suspended offenses that you’ve been convicted of, the third or subsequent offense could entail jail time. More importantly, it could trigger a mandatory minimum 10 day jail sentence, where you would have to serve 10 days in jail if you’re convicted of a third.
One really important thing for your attorney to do in a case where you have priors is to pull each prior; get a certified copy of each one and analyze it. See if there are any errors or any helpful arguments for your defense that could make that prior not count. Even if it’s only your second offense and there is just one prior, knocking out that one prior could mean the difference between a day or two in jail and no jail. If it’s your third offense and if we can knock out both priors, then that would mean that you wouldn’t have any jail time instead of 10 days mandatory minimum. Now every case is certainly different and it doesn’t always produce something fruitful for our defense, but it’s something that we should always check into, is getting those priors.
So in sum, just remember that driving on suspended is serious, fixing your license is important, but it’s not going to necessarily make the charge go away. And if you have priors we definitely need to get a hold of those priors so we can check them and see if we can use them in our defense.