Driving on Suspended Secret: You Must be Legally Suspended

In order for the Commonwealth to prove that you are guilty of driving on a suspended license, one element they must prove is that you were actually suspended at the time of the driving.

Note that this ties in to our other piece of the puzzle about fixing your license. The issue is whether or not you were legally suspended at the time that you allegedly drove the vehicle. That’s the issue. It doesn’t matter if you were suspended the day after, and it doesn’t matter if you’re suspended at court. What matters is whether or not you’re suspended on the day of the offense when you drove. And they have to prove that that was a lawful suspension.

What types of arguments can we make here? One issue could be if a court messes up paperwork. Let’s say that you had an attorney and you worked out a plea agreement to a charge where there was to be no license suspension. You entered that plea and the judge wrote it all in the paper; it was clear that you plead guilty to an offense and there was no license suspension.

Now let’s fast forward a couple of weeks and assume that you were pulled over; the officer claims that your license was suspended and tickets you. We look into the paperwork and the clerk’s office made a clerical error that included a license suspension in the computer for DMV. What will happen at court? The clear argument here is that the suspension that was on file is not a legal suspension; therefore, your license was not lawfully suspended. We have a good argument that you should be found not guilty of the offense.

Another similar issue could be if there was a timing issue with the suspension. Some officers don’t look too closely at the DMV driving record when they stop drivers. If they see a suspension on a license sometimes they just kind of automatically write a charge for driving on a suspended. However, the license suspension may not be in effect at the right time, depending upon what the issue is.

One big issue with this is if you’re suspended for a driver improvement clinic. In that scenario, you get a letter from DMV that says that you have to do a driver improvement clinic in 60 or 90 days and if you don’t do it you get suspended. An officer could glance at your records, see the driver improvement order, and assume that you might be suspended for it. However, the license suspension may not be in affect yet.

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Andrew Flusche

My name is Andrew Flusche. I am a traffic and misdemeanor defense lawyer in Virginia. I limit my practice to traffic tickets and misdemeanor defense, so I know the ins and outs of these offenses. I literally wrote the book on reckless driving in Virginia which you can get on Amazon here or download for free here. I opened my practice in 2008 after earning my Juris Doctor degree from the University of Virginia School of Law. Since then, I have earned over 600 5-star reviews from happy clients on Google, Yelp, and Facebook. If you’ve been charged with a misdemeanor offense in Virginia, please don’t hesitate to contact me. Your initial consultation is always free, and you'll talk directly with me about the details of your case.

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