• California DUI Lawyers Association
  • Criminal Courts Bar Association
  • California Attorneys for Criminal Justice
  • National College for DUI Defense
  • California Public Defenders Association
  • Better Business Bureau

Driving on a Suspended License in California


To help you understand driving on a suspended license, the Aizman law firm has made available the following information.

Overview of Driving on a Suspended License

In California, it is illegal to drive when you know that your driver’s license is suspended or revoked. Your driving privilege can be taken away under certain circumstances. One way that courts or the DMV can do this is to suspend your license.  If a person is caught driving with a suspended license, California police or highway patrol may arrest the driver.

Vehicle Code section 14601 defines driving on a suspended license as follows1:

“No person shall drive a motor vehicle at any time when that person’s driving privilege is suspended or revoked …, if the person so driving has knowledge of the suspension or revocation.”

california license

Reasons Your License Can be Suspended or Revoked

Your license could be suspended or revoked for the following reasons:

  • Driving when your priviledge was suspended or revoked for a DUI2
  • Reckless Driving3 Vehicle Code 23103
  • Reckless Driving that causes Injury4Vehicle Code 23104
  • Reckless driving that causes one or more specified injuries to someone other than the driver5 - Vehicle Code 23105
  • Negligent Operation of a Motor Vehicle6
  • Incompetent (mental or physical) operation of a motor vehicle
  • In a car accident without proof of insurance
  • Unpaid tickets
  • Failure to appear in Court

picture pf suspended license

 

How Does the Prosecutor Prove Driving on a Suspended License?

To prove that someone is guitly of this offense, the prosecutor has to prove the following facts or elements7:

  • Defendant was driving a motor vehicle at a time when his/her driver’s license was suspended or revoked;
  • At the time defendant was driving, he/she knew that his/her driver’s license was suspended.

How a prosecutor can prove knowledge of suspension or revocation at the time of driving:

  • The notice was sent to the most recent address reported to the department or any more recent address reported by the person, a court, or a law enforcement agency;
  • The notice was not returned to the department as undeliverable or unclaimed;

Even if all the above are true, the jury may, but is not required to, conclude that the defendant had knowledge.  This is what is called a rebuttable presumption, meaning that the defendant can rebut the presumption with evidence that proves otherwise.

witness on the stand

Legal Defenses

Lack of Knowledge:  As one of the elements that a prosecutor has to prove is knowledge of suspension or revocation of the license, if a defendant can show that he or she did not know that his/her license was suspended or revoked at the time they were driving, they have not violated this offense.8

Example:

If the notice of suspension of your license was sent to you in the mail after you have moved to a new address and the notice is thrown away by the new tenant rather than being returned to the sender, you can rebut the presumption that you knew about the suspension by showing the effective date of the new address as evidence that you were no longer living at the old address at the time the notice arrived.

Scales of Justice

Penalties & Punishment

If you are knowingly driving with a suspended or revoked driver’s license, pursuant to Vehicle Code 14601, you may be facing the following penalties, depending on why your license was suspended or revoked.

First Time Offender:

Jail: Imprisonment in a county jail for not less than five days or more than six months .

Fine: Not less than three hundred dollars ($300) or more than one thousand dollars ($1,000).

Multiple Offenses

If the offense occurred within five years of a prior offense that resulted in a conviction of a violation of this section or Section 14601.1, 14601.2, or 14601.5, by imprisonment in a county jail for not less than 10 days or more than one year and by a fine of not less than five hundred dollars $500 or more than $2,000.

If the offense occurred within five years of a prior offense that resulted in a conviction of a violation of this section or Section 14601.1, 14601.2, or 14601.5, and is granted probation, the court shall impose as a condition of probation that the person be confined in a county jail for at least 10 days.

Judges gavel

Related Offenses

Driving Without a Valid Driver’s License:

Pursuant to Vehicle Code Section 12500, it is unlawful in California to drive without a valid driver’s license.  It is not required that the license you carry is issued by the state of California to be valid.  If you have a valid driver license from your home state or country, you may drive in this state without getting a California driver license as long as your home state license remains valid.  Failure to have a valid California license or a license from your home state or country will result in a violation of Vehicle Code section 125009.

If you violate subsection (a) of the Vehicle Code section 12500 by driving a motor vehicle without a valid driver’s license, the violation can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a less serious offense – an infraction.  A misdemeanor charge may result in imprisonment in the county jail not exceeding six months, or by a fine of up to $1,000, or by both. 10.

Driving Under The Influence:

Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol is one way that you can end up with a California suspended license. When you lose your license after a driving under the influence (DUI) arrest, it is usually because of an unsuccessful DMV hearing for DUI.   California legislature has set up penalties to severely punish people who drive on a suspended license because of a DUI.  If you are found guilty of driving with suspended license, California penalties include mandatory jail time, very high fines and the mandatory installation of a Breathalyzer in your car.

In some cases, the driver may be required to receive treatment for alcohol abuse or participate in an alcohol education and prevention program.

Choosing An Attorney

any questions

The defense attorneys at the Aizman Law Firm know how to navigate the laws to get you the best result possible. Because we are former Los Angeles prosecutors, we have the knowledge, experience and relationships with Judges and prosecutors necessary to obtain the best outcomes for people charged with driving with a California suspended license.  If you would like to confidentially discuss your case or you have some questions, contact us for a free consultation at 818-351-9555.11


  • california-dui-association
  • ccba
  • cacj
  • national-college-for-dui-defense
  • cpda

L.A. & Southern California Criminal Defense Resources

la dui attorney - DUI commercial driver - criminal defense attorney orange countydrug defense lawyersan diego defense lawyerlos angeles drug charges attorneylos angeles criminal defense attorneys -theft lawyerla probation - Unlawful Taking or Driving of a Vehicle | Vehicle Code 10851 VC

  1. California Vehicle Code 14601 – (a) No person shall drive a motor vehicle at any time when that person’s driving privilege is suspended or revoked for reckless driving in violation of Section 23103, 23104, or 23105, any reason listed in subdivision (a) or (c) of Section 12806 authorizing the department to refuse to issue a license, negligent or incompetent operation of a motor vehicle as prescribed in subdivision (e) of Section 12809, or negligent operation as prescribed in Section 12810.5 , if the person so driving has knowledge of the suspension or revocation. Knowledge shall be conclusively presumed if mailed notice has been given by the department to the person pursuant to Section 13106. The presumption established by this subdivision is a presumption affecting the burden of proof []
  2. California Vehicle Code 14601.2 VC – Driving on a suspended license for DUI. (“(a) A person shall not drive a motor vehicle at any time when that person’s driving privilege is suspended or revoked for a conviction of a violation of Section 23152 or 23153 if the person so driving has knowledge of the suspension or revocation. (d) A person convicted of a violation of this section shall be punished as follows: (1) Upon a first conviction, by imprisonment in the county jail for not less than 10 days or more than six months and by a fine of not less than three hundred dollars ($300) or more than one thousand dollars ($1,000), unless the person has been designated a habitual traffic offender under subdivision (b) of Section 23546, subdivision (b) of Section 23550, or subdivision (d) of Section 23550.5, in which case the person, in addition, shall be sentenced as provided in paragraph (3) of subdivision (e) of Section 14601.3. (2) If the offense occurred within five years of a prior offense that resulted in a conviction of a violation of this section or Section 14601, 14601.1, or 14601.5, by imprisonment in the county jail for not less than 30 days or more than one year and by a fine of not less than five hundred dollars ($500) or more than two thousand dollars ($2,000), unless the person has been designated a habitual traffic offender under subdivision (b) of Section 23546, subdivision (b) of Section 23550, or subdivision (d) of Section 23550.5, in which case the person, in addition, shall be sentenced as provided in paragraph (3) of subdivision (e) of Section 14601.3. []
  3. California Vehicle Code 2313 VC- Reckless Driving – A person who drives a vehicle upon a highway in willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property is guilty of reckless driving. []
  4. California Vehicle Code Section 23104 VC -Reckless Driving Bodily Injuy. Except as provided in subdivision (b), whenever reckless driving of a vehicle proximately causes bodily injury to a person other than the driver, the person driving the vehicle shall, upon conviction thereof, be punished by imprisonment in the county jail for not less than 30 days nor more than six months or by a fine of not less than two hundred twenty dollars ($220) nor more than one thousand dollars ($1,000), or by both the fine and imprisonment. []
  5. A person convicted of reckless driving in violation of Section 23103 that proximately causes one or more of the injuries specified in subdivision (b) to a person other than the driver, shall be punished by imprisonment pursuant to subdivision (h) of Section 1170 of the Penal Code, or by imprisonment in a county jail for not less than 30 days nor more than six months, or by a fine of not less than two hundred twenty dollars ($220) nor more than one thousand dollars ($1,000), or by both that fine and imprisonment. []
  6.  California Vehicle Code 14601 VC – Driving on a suspended license for certain offenses.  (“(a) No person shall drive a motor vehicle at any time when that person’s driving privilege is suspended or revoked for reckless driving in violation of Section 23103, 23104, or 23105, any reason listed in subdivision (a) or (c) of Section 12806 authorizing the department to refuse to issue a license, negligent or incompetent operation of a motor vehicle as prescribed in subdivision (e) of Section 12809, or negligent operation as prescribed in Section 12810.5, if the person so driving has knowledge of the suspension or revocation. Knowledge shall be conclusively presumed if mailed notice has been given by the department to the person pursuant to Section 13106. The presumption established by this subdivision is a presumption affecting the burden of proof []
  7. California Vehicle Code 14601 []
  8. CALCRIM 2220 – Driving With Suspended or Revoked Driving Privilege. (“To prove that the defendant is guilty of this crime, the People must prove that: (1) The defendant drove a motor vehicle while (his/her) driving privilege was (suspended/ [or] revoked) [for <insert basis for suspension or revocation>]; AND (2) When the defendant drove, (he/she) knew that (his/her) driving privilege was (suspended/ [or] revoked).” []
  9. California Vehicle Code 12500 VC -  (a) A person may not drive a motor vehicle upon a highway, unless the person then holds a valid driver’s license issued under this code, except those persons who are expressly exempted under this code. (b)A person may not drive a motorcycle, motor-driven cycle, or motorized bicycle upon a highway, unless the person then holds a valid driver’s license or endorsement issued under this code for that class, except those persons who are expressly exempted under this code, or those persons specifically authorized to operate motorized bicycles or motorized scooters with a valid driver’s license of any class, as specified in subdivision (h) of Section 12804.9. (d) A person may not drive a motor vehicle or combination of vehicles that is not of a type for which the person is licensed []
  10. Vehicle Code Sections 40000.11; 12500 []
  11. We help clients in the following areas, Los Angeles, Beverly Hills, Encino, Tarzana, Woodland Hills, Burbank, Torrance, San Bernardino, Sherman Oaks, Long Beach, Studio City, Toluka lake, Valley Village, Santa Monica, Westwood, brentwood, Ventura, Westlake Village, Calabasas, Agourra hills, Riverside, Santa Clarita,  Manhattan beach, Hermosa beach, and Orange County. []

Contact us for a free consultation

(818) 351-9555

Copyright 2012 Aizman Law Firm

Author

Law Articles