Penalties for Driving with a Suspended License
Under Section 322.34, Washington DC Statutes, a first offense for driving with a suspended license (with knowledge of the suspension, revocation, or cancellation) can result in 60 days jail and a fine of up to $500.00. A second offense may be charged as a first degree misdemeanor, which carries a maximum penalty of 1 year in jail. A third offense in Washington DC may result in felony charges, with up to 5 years in prison and maximum fine of $5,000.
If this third offense and two previous offenses occur within a five year period, you will be labeled by the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (Department of Motor Vehicles) as a Habitual Traffic Offender. Habitual Traffic Offender (HTO) status in Washington DC results in a five-year driver’s license revocation. A person classified as a Habitual Traffic Offender cannot even obtain a hardship license until a full year has elapsed from their most recent conviction. For additional information about Habitual Traffic Offender status in Washington DC, visit our Washington DC Habitual Traffic Offender web page.
Reasons for a License Suspension
There are a number of reasons for the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles to suspend a Washington DC driver’s license. Common examples can include the following:
- Points suspensions;
- Child support delinquency;
- DUI arrest or conviction;
- Habitual Traffic Offender classification;
- Failure to pay fines, court judgments, or court costs;
- Failure to appear in court;
- Failure to maintain continuous insurance;
- Drug-related convictions;
- Plea to a racing on highways charge;
- Petit theft convictions;
- DUI Refusal.
An experienced Washington DC criminal defense lawyer is an invaluable resource for explaining the reasons for the suspension or revocation and opening options to have the suspension / revocation lifted. If your Washington DC license is suspended, call us today to find out why.
Defenses to Driving With Suspended License
There are many defenses and strategies available to defeat a suspended license charge or to minimize potential penalties. Common examples include:
- Legal challenges to the validity of the traffic stop; For additional information on this topic, visit our Washington DC Suspended License Traffic Stop web page;
- The accused was not driving;
- The accused did not know of the suspension, cancellation, or revocation;
- The accused was not driving on a public highway. For additional information on this topic, see our sample Motion to Dismiss Suspended License Charge web page;
- The vehicle is not a “motor vehicle” for purposes of the driver’s license statute;
- The accused’s Washington DC driver’s license had been reinstated or adequate reason existed to believe it had been reinstated;
- Vacating prior Driving with Suspended License convictions so as to secure the State’s agreement to amend the charge to No Valid Driver’s License. For more information on this topic, visit our Motion to Vacate a Suspended License Conviction web page.
Where there are no viable defenses available, we seek to negotiate with the prosecution to have the charge amended to No Valid Washington DC Driver’s License or, in some cases, to a civil citation (failure to display). This most often occurs in cases where there is a minimal driving record, or where the individual obtains a valid Washington DC driver’s license prior to entering a plea or going to trial.
An amendment of the charge dramatically lessens the penalties and driver’s license consequences a person would have faced had he or she been convicted of driving with a suspended license. Where amendment is not a possibility, we seek to minimize the penalties so as to avoid jail, probation, and debilitating fines.
If you have been accused of driving on a suspended, canceled, or revoked license, you may have defenses available to contest the charge or to minimize potential penalties. Contact our Washington DC Driver’s License Attorneys today for a free consultation.