Virginia Driver’s License Suspension Lawyer

WATCH: Driving on a Suspended License in Virginia is Serious

driving on a suspended license in Virginia Virginia punishes driving on a suspended license as a class 1 misdemeanor.

But what punishment are you really facing? Are there defenses that can get you out of this mess?

Let’s talk about it.

 

 

Driving on a suspended or revoked license in Virginia

Driving on a revoked or suspended license appears in 46.2-301(B) of the Virginia Code:

B. Except as provided in §§ 46.2-304 and 46.2-357, no resident or nonresident (i) whose driver’s license, learner’s permit, or privilege to drive a motor vehicle has been suspended or revoked or (ii) who has been directed not to drive by any court or by the Commissioner, or (iii) who has been forbidden, as prescribed by operation of any statute of the Commonwealth or a substantially similar ordinance of any county, city or town, to operate a motor vehicle in the Commonwealth shall thereafter drive any motor vehicle or any self-propelled machinery or equipment on any highway in the Commonwealth until the period of such suspension or revocation has terminated or the privilege has been reinstated or a restricted license is issued pursuant to subsection E. A clerk’s notice of suspension of license for failure to pay fines or costs given in accordance with § 46.2-395 shall be sufficient notice for the purpose of maintaining a conviction under this section. For the purposes of this section, the phrase “motor vehicle or any self-propelled machinery or equipment” shall not include mopeds.

Will I go to Jail for Driving on a Suspended License in Virginia?

WATCH: Driving on a Suspended License Could Mean Jail

I talk with a lot of people who are charged with driving on a suspended license. If that’s you (or if your license is suspended and you’re driving anyway), pay close attention:

You might go to jail

This surprises a lot of people, but it’s true. I’m not trying to use scare tactics to get you to hire me. I tell people straight up when I don’t think they’re actually facing jail time. For example, a lot of reckless driving cases don’t end up with jail.

But driving on suspended can.

Penalties for Driving on a Suspended License in VA

Driving on a suspended or revoked license is a class 1 misdemeanor. This means that you are facing up to 1 year in jail and/or a fine up to $2,500.

If you get convicted of this statute three times within 10 years, you could be looking at a mandatory minimum jail sentence of 10 days.

A conviction under this statute also results in your license being suspended again for the period it was originally suspended.

In most of the jurisdictions where I focus my practice (typically Spotsylvania, Stafford, Fredericksburg, and King George), a first offense of driving on a suspended license doesn’t usually get punished with active jail time. Sometimes the defendant does get suspended jail time, which means that you wouldn’t go to jail as long as you keep your nose clean for a period of time.

And keep in mind that this is only a general rule of thumb. A first offense could get actual jail time, depending upon your record and the facts.

Defending Against VA Driving on a Suspended License Charges

There are a three elements the Commonwealth must prove to convict you of a driving on a suspended license charge. That means there are primarily three places we can look for possible defenses. Those elements are:

  1. You must be driving a motor vehicle.
  2. Your license must be suspended or revoked.
  3. You must know that your license is suspended or revoked.

Now let’s look at each one individually.

Were You Driving?

The Commonwealth has to prove that you were actually driving a motor vehicle on a public road at the time of the alleged offense.

In many cases, this element is fairly simple for the Commonwealth. Driving on a suspended license is typically charged when an officer makes a traffic stop, asks for the driver’s license, and sees that it’s suspended or revoked.

However, even if the Commonwealth can prove you were driving, they still have two other hurdles to jump.

Was your License suspended or revoked?

Was your license legally suspended or revoked? To prove this charge, the Commonwealth has to prove that your license was suspended properly.

This is typically a routine element for the Commonwealth’s Attorney. They bring a certified copy of your DMV transcript that shows the suspension or revocation of your license.

Did you know of license suspension or revocation?

The final element of driving on a revoked or suspended license can be the hardest for the Commonwealth to prove. They have to prove that you knew your license was suspended or revoked when you were driving.

Sadly, most people shoot themselves in the foot at this point. The officer will almost always ask during the traffic stop if you knew your license was suspended or revoked. If you indicate that you knew, the Commonwealth has this element in the bag.

If you don’t admit to knowledge of the suspension or revocation, the Commonwealth will try to prove this element through your DMV transcript. They use the transcript to try to show that you received notice of the suspension.

The primary reason for a license suspension in Virginia is due to failure to pay court fines and costs. The Virginia Code tries to provide notice of suspension when the clerk’s office tells you about the amount of fines and costs you owe. But the courts typically insist that you receive notice when your license is actually suspended.

2nd Offense Driving on Suspended License in VA

A second offense typically DOES get active jail time

Yes, you read that right. If you’re charged with driving on a suspended license and you’ve been convicted of the same offense within the past 10 years, you may be going to jail.

We’re not talking months here for a second offense. Usually more like a few days.

If this is your third offense, you’re facing a state-wide mandatory minimum of 10 days in jail. And for offenses beyond that, you may be looking at a longer stretch of jail time.

As you can see, this isn’t a “fix it ticket.” This is a serious offense that could land you behind bars. Fortunately, there may be ways to beat your driving on suspended charge.

3rd Offense Driving on Suspended License in VA

If you are charged with driving on a suspended third (3rd) offense, or later, you need to talk with an attorney.

What penalties are you facing?

In Virginia driving on suspended may seem like a fix-a-ticket to a lot of people. Their license is suspended for fines, costs for driving school, insurance verification, or any number of reasons.

Some people think that if they just get their license fixed and bring the valid license to court, the case will just go away without further penalty.

That’s simply wrong.

The worst part is if you’re charged with driving on suspended third or subsequent offense, you are at a real risk of going to jail. We’re not talking about a technical risk where the judge could give you jail time. If you’re charged with a driving on suspended third or subsequent, the law says that if the judge finds you guilty of that offense, he must give you ten days of jail to serve.

During those ten days, you do not even get credit for good behavior. You have to serve all ten of those days if you’re given them.

As you can see, if you’re charged with an offense like this, you need to call me right away or request a copy of my free report about driving on suspended defense.

Defenses for Multiple Driving on Suspended License Charges

There are defenses to these kinds of charges and there are arguments we could make to try to lessen the impact of the case or even beat your driving on a suspended license charge.

One of the main things we do on a driving on suspended third or subsequent offense is to investigate the prior convictions that the Commonwealth is going to seek to use to give you mandatory jail time. If we can show that one or more of the prior convictions is invalid in some way, then that could be enough to keep you out of jail.

Another good argument is to simply get your license fixed. It does not make the charge go away and it many times does not keep you out of jail completely. However, it can help our negotiating position to try to get a better resolution than you would otherwise have if your license is still suspended when you go to court.

Contact me today to get started defending your driving on suspended third or subsequent offense charge.

4th Offense Driving on Suspended License in VA

WATCH: Driving Suspended in Virginia for 4th Offense

If you are charged with driving on a suspended license in Virginia, the punishment can vary quite a bit depending upon how many prior offenses you may have had for driving suspended. If this is your 4th offense you may be in quite a bit of trouble.

The Law

The basic law for driving on a suspended in Virginia is pretty simple. The Commonwealth has to prove that your license was suspended or revoked on the day that you were driving. The Commonwealth also has to prove that you were indeed operating a motor vehicle on the highways of the Commonwealth. Then finally, they also need to prove that you knew you were suspended.

The basic way they are going to prove most of this is they are going to have an officer testify that they saw you behind the wheel, they pulled you over, and then they are going to use your driving transcript to prove your license status, and typically that will also help them prove whether or not you knew about the license suspension.

Defenses

One obvious defense to driving on a suspended license fourth offense in Virginia is whether or not you actually were driving. It’s not that often the case, but in some cases there is a potential issue of whether or not the Commonwealth can prove that you were actually behind the wheel of the vehicle. For example, let’s say an office sees you at a store and assumes that you drove there. That might not be enough unless he can prove that he saw you get out of the vehicle, or maybe he can testify that you told him you drove there or something.

Another defense is whether or not your license is actually suspended on the date in question. There may be cases where there was a mix-up at the court or the driving records or one thing or another, and your license was not actually suspended. If your license wasn’t suspended, that could possibly be a defense to the charge of driving on a suspended license.

The next defense is one that comes up quite a bit: proving whether or not you had notice of the suspension. Virginia law is clear that you have to know you were actually suspended in order to be guilty of driving on a suspended. At the very least, the Commonwealth has to prove you had notice that you were probably suspended. The main way they do this is with the court’s Notice of Suspension for failure to pay fines and costs, since suspensions for fines / costs are the main problem for most people.

Punishments for driving on suspended 4th offense

The mandatory minimum jail time for driving on a suspended license for a 3rd time in Virginia is 10 days. The judge cannot give you less than 10 days for a 4th offense.

But some judges might give you more jail than that. Some judges think that if a 3rd offense gives you 10 days of jail, a 4th offense should give you 20 days. However, many factors go into determining how much jail you might or might not receive:

  • How long has it been since your last offense?
  • Were you driving for something critical like work or medical care?
  • Were you doing anything actually dangerous when you were pulled over?

If you get jail time, we can hopefully schedule it for a time that works better for your work / family requirements. And some judges will even consider weekend jail.

Fight your 4th offense driving suspended charge

If you’re charged with driving on a suspended license in Virginia, you should contact me right away so we can discuss what I can do to help.


Peer Testimonial

Please note:

  • While we’ve only included one here, I have over 150 reviews around the web. Check them out on Google, Avvo, and Yelp.
  • The testimonial below was originally posted on Yelp.

I am another attorney practicing in the local area and I send my traffic clients to Andrew. He is efficient, does not take them to the cleaners with fees and reflects well on me when I send my clients to him. I highly recommend Andrew to anyone.

Reviewing: Andrew Flusche’s Legal Services
Date published: 2013-10-30
Rating: ★★★★★ 5 / 5 stars

Further reading

There are my latest articles on driving on suspended defense:

You can read more articles in my driving on a suspended license archives. You can also read other traffic defense articles on my blog.

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