Driving on a Suspended License – CPC 14601

Driving in California while your license is suspended or revoked creates immediate potential liability. If you are stopped by a law enforcement officer while you lack a valid, current driver’s license, a charge for violation of California Vehicle Code 14601 is the nearly inevitable outcome. A California suspended license attorney can explain the process.

Traffic officers routinely demand evidence of licensure when a motorist is stopped, even if the stop is for a relatively minor issue (for example, a burnt out light). If the operator possesses no license at all, a citation is generally issued under Vehicle Code 12500. Surprisingly, this violation carries lighter penalties than a charge for driving with a suspended or revoked license. Prosecution of the case is simpler for law enforcement: there are few cases where a driver can claim ignorance of the violation if there is no license.

Is a Suspended License Worse Than No License?

Prosecution for driving under a suspended or revoked license, however, is a good deal more complicated. California Vehicle Code Section 14601 specifies the grounds for a charge, which include driving while knowing that your driver’s license is suspended or revoked for reckless driving or negligent vehicle operation “if the person has knowledge of the suspension or revocation.”

Mailing a notice to the driver of suspension or revocation can create a presumption under Vehicle Code Section 13106 of the driver’s knowledge of the suspension of the driving privilege. The requisite knowledge can also be established by a showing that the driver was informed by a police officer at the time of arrest for a DUI or other Vehicle Code driving offense, or it can be established by a showing that a judge informed you of the suspension or revocation at the time you were sentenced for the offense that led to the suspension or revocation. Examples include a mailed notice that was either lost in the mail or sent to an obsolete address and the unavailability of the arresting officer to testify that you were advised of suspension or revocation.

Penalties for Conviction of Driving on a Suspended License

Penalties for conviction of a violation of Vehicle Code Section 14601, a misdemeanor, are potentially expensive and disruptive. Payment of a fine and/or fulfillment of other terms of a sentence does not automatically reinstate your license. Your license must be re-instated. If it looks as if the prosecution can make a case of a violation of Vehicle Code 14601, you and your attorney should seriously consider plea bargaining for a reduced, stipulated sentence.

Fortunately, most prosecutors are overwhelmed with their case loads and are usually receptive to plea bargain proposals. The bargaining, however, is generally best handled by an experienced trial lawyer who knows the court, the judge and the prosecutor and can expedite the bargaining. Your lawyer should be thoroughly familiar with your record and any extenuating circumstances which favor a light penalty.

If you’re facing trial for driving on a suspended license, do not hesitate to get the legal advice and advocacy of an experienced California suspended license attorney. It may not seem like a serious crime, but the consequences of a conviction can be life-altering. Call the law office of Daniel Cota today at (800) 351-6860 for a free initial consultation.

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