Driving On A Suspended License

California Vehicle Code § 14601 makes it a crime to drive a motor vehicle while having a license that is currently suspended. This crime seems straight forward, but it is more complex than it first appears. Most importantly the fines are very steep ranging from $1000-$2000 and can include significant mandatory jail time. The reason for the suspension and the number of prior offenses to this charge dictates the severity of the punishment. For example, if the license is suspended for failing to pay fines, that punishment is less severe than being suspended for a DUI. Punishment is also less severe for first time offenders vs. multiple offenders. Lastly, this charge can be an infraction and not a misdemeanor as well.

Elements of The Crime (Summary)

  1. Driving
  2. While license was currently suspended
  3. Driver KNEW license was suspended.

The third prong is sometimes difficult for the government to prove. There is a presumption that if the DMV mailed notice to the last known address of the driving telling them that their license was suspended, then the driver knew about the suspension. However, that is just an presumption. Many times people do not really know that their license was suspended and therefore could have a defense to these charges.

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