According to California Vehicle Code Section 14601 VC, it is illegal to operate a vehicle with a suspended or revoked license, and those found guilty may face severe criminal consequences.
It is considered a misdemeanor to operate a motor vehicle while knowing that your driver’s license has been suspended or revoked. The penalties for violating this code can include up to 6 months of jail time and a fine of up to $1000 plus court costs.
Elements of Crime – Vehicle Code 14601
In order to establish the defendant’s guilt for driving with a suspended license under Vehicle Code 14601 VC, the prosecutor must prove the following elements:
- The defendant operated a motor vehicle while their driving privilege was suspended or revoked.
- At the time of driving, the defendant was aware that their driving privilege was suspended or revoked.
When evaluating whether a defendant possessed knowledge of their suspended or revoked driving privileges, the following factors may be taken into account:
- The defendant received a notice from the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) informing them about the suspension or revocation of their driving privileges.
- The notice was sent to the address on record with the DMV, or to any updated address provided by the individual, a court, or a law enforcement agency.
- Importantly, the notice was not returned to the DMV as either undeliverable or unclaimed.
By considering these elements, it can help establish whether or not the defendant was aware of their suspended or revoked driving privileges.
The duration of a suspension or revocation remains in effect until the individual takes active steps to reinstate their driving privileges. Consequently, if a defendant faces a year-long suspension but neglects to restore their license, they may still face prosecution for driving on a suspended license under California Vehicle Code Section 14601 VC, even after the designated suspension period has elapsed.
Please note that an individual’s driving privileges can be suspended or revoked, even if they have never been issued a valid driver’s license.
Here are two examples of violation of California Vehicle Code Section 14601 VC:
For example, let’s say that John’s driver’s license was suspended due to a previous DUI conviction. Despite being aware of the suspension, John decides to drive his car to work one morning. Unfortunately, he gets pulled over by a police officer during a routine traffic stop.
Upon checking John’s driving record, the officer discovers that his license is currently suspended. As a result, John is charged with driving on a suspended license under California Vehicle Code Section 14601 VC. He may be subject to penalties, such as fines, possible imprisonment, further license suspension, probation, vehicle impoundment, and mandatory completion of a driving course.
Another Example: Jane’s driver’s license was suspended due to unpaid traffic tickets. However, Jane was not aware of the suspension as she never received any notice from the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). She continues to drive her vehicle without realizing her license has been suspended.
One day, Jane is pulled over by a police officer for a minor traffic violation. Upon running her information, the officer discovers that Jane’s license is currently suspended. Jane is then charged with driving on a suspended license under California Vehicle Code Section 14601 VC.
During her defense, Jane presents evidence that she never received any notice of the suspension from the DMV. She explains that she didn’t intentionally drive on a suspended license because she was unaware of the suspension due to the lack of proper notification.
In this scenario, Jane may have a strong defense against the charge of driving on a suspended license. The fact that she did not receive any notice of the suspension could potentially support her argument that she was unaware and therefore did not knowingly violate the law.
Penalties – California Vehicle Code 14601
A violation of section 14601 of the Vehicle Code in California is considered as a misdemeanor. The specific penalties for driving on a suspended or revoked license will vary based on the particular section of California Vehicle Code Section 14601 VC that the defendant violated. The punishments are determined by the following statutes:
- Vehicle Code 14601 VC: If the license suspension or revocation resulted from reckless, negligent, or incompetent driving, the defendant may face a minimum of five days and a maximum of six months in jail, along with substantial court fines. For second or subsequent violations within five years, the penalty may include between ten days and one year in jail.
- Vehicle Code 14601.2 VC: If the underlying suspension was due to a DUI conviction, any violation falls under this section. A first violation entails penalties of at least ten days and up to six months in jail, as well as the installation of an ignition interlock device. A second violation carries a minimum of 30 days in jail.
- Vehicle Code 14601.3 VC: For defendants declared habitual traffic offenders, driving on a suspended or revoked license is a misdemeanor. First-time offenders may face a minimum of 30 days in jail, while second or subsequent offenses may require a minimum of 180 days in jail.
- Vehicle Code 14601.5 VC: This statute applies when a driver drives on a suspended license and has their license revoked for refusing a chemical test or driving with an unlawful blood alcohol concentration (BAC). The penalties include informal probation for up to three years, custody in county jail for a maximum of six months, and/or a fine of up to $1,000.
- Vehicle Code 14601.1 VC: This catch-all statute applies when a driver operates a vehicle on a suspended or revoked license for reasons not mentioned in the previous statutes. The penalties include informal probation for up to three years, custody in county jail for a maximum of six months, and/or a fine of up to $1,000.
Defenses To Driving on A Suspended or Revoked License
Three common defenses include claiming no knowledge, no suspension, or necessity.
If a defendant claims no knowledge, then they will argue that they had no idea that their license was suspended or revoked. Prosecutors bear the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt and will need to show that the defendant had notice of the suspension.
In situations where the DMV has mailed a notice of the suspension to a person’s last known address, there is a strong presumption of proper notice if it is not returned.
A defendant can also argue that they did not commit the offense if their license was not actually suspended. If the prosecution cannot provide convincing evidence to prove that the defendant’s license was suspended or revoked, their case may falter.
Sometimes a defendant may drive on a suspended or revoked license due to an emergency situation or because they were under threat of violence from someone else. In such cases, a defendant may use a necessity defense or a duress defense, respectively, to try to avoid a conviction.
These defenses are for general information and should not be considered legal advice. It’s important to consult with a qualified attorney to analyze your specific situation and determine the best defense strategy.
For the most part, driving on a suspended license in California, by itself, will not directly impact a person’s immigration status. But there can be indirect consequences. Generally speaking, non-citizens can face immigration consequences and potentially be deported or marked as inadmissible if they are convicted of certain crimes in California.
For instance, a non-citizen defendant may be subject to deportation if they are convicted of a crime involving moral turpitude. However, a conviction under California’s statute for driving on a suspended or revoked license (Vehicle Code 14601 VC) would not typically be considered a crime involving moral turpitude. Therefore, this specific offense would not automatically result in deportation or inadmissibility.
With that said, it is important to consult with an experienced immigration attorney to gain a comprehensive understanding of how specific convictions may impact an individual’s immigration status. Immigration laws can be complex, and the consequences can vary depending on the specific circumstances of each case. If you or someone you know is charged with driving crime, it is strongly advisable that you consult with an immigration lawyer. If you do not have or know of an immigration lawyer, the Tabibnia Law Firm can refer you to one.
Can A Person Get A Conviction Expunged?
Under this statute, an individual who has been convicted may be eligible for an expungement if certain conditions are met. Specifically, if the defendant has completed their probation or jail term (whichever was issued as part of the sentence), a judge may award an expungement.
Please note that an accused who violated their probation could still be granted an expungement at the judge’s discretion.
- Driving without a license – VC 12500
- Failing to present a driver’s license – VC 12951
- Unlawful use of a driver’s license – VC 14610
Speak With Criminal Defense Lawyer From Tabibnia Law Firm
If you have been charged with driving on a suspended or revoked license, it is crucial that you consult with a Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney immediately. Mr. Cyrus Tabibnia, an experienced attorney with over 18 years of experience, specializes in helping clients facing such offenses. To learn more about driving on a suspended or revoked license and schedule a free consultation, you can contact Los Angeles Criminal Defense Lawyer Cyrus Tabibnia at Tabibnia Law Firm by calling 866-713-2159.