Driving on a Suspended License Attorney Fairfax Virginia
Virginia law mandates stiff penalties for individuals who are caught driving without a license. Driving without a valid operator’s license is a class 2 misdemeanor punishable by a $1000 fine and up to 6 months in jail. In contrast, driving on a suspended or revoked license is a class 1 misdemeanor punishable by a $2500 fine, up to 12 months in jail, and an additional license suspension.
Regardless of whether your license was suspended for failure to pay fines, failure to pay child support, accumulating too many points, or other criminal convictions, driving without a license is a separate and serious criminal charge. Often an individual is stopped for a minor traffic violation at which point the officer will run the person’s record and discover that their license is suspended. It is important to hire an attorney who can handle the underlying offense along with the license offense.
Depending on the circumstances of the case, prosecutors typically will not seek jail time on a first offense. However, jail time is always a possibility, so it is important to contact an experienced attorney to discuss your case prior to court. For a second offense there is a greater likelihood that the prosecutor will be seeking jail time. A third or subsequent offense within 10 years carries mandatory jail time.
There are several defenses that can be raised to a charge of driving on a suspended license. For example, a person without a license is able to drive in a “situation of apparent extreme emergency which requires such operation to save life or limb.” If you can prove that this exception applies in your case you can be found not guilty. Furthermore, to get a conviction, the Commonwealth must be able to prove that the individual was properly notified of the suspension or revocation. Our attorneys can review your driving record and speak with the officer and prosecutor to determine if they have sufficient evidence of notice. Additionally, we may be able to question the reason for the stop in the first place. If the police did not have a valid reason to pull the person over then it would be necessary to file a motion to suppress and argue that issue before the judge to try and get the charges dismissed.
It is very important to get your license reinstated prior to court if at all possible. Bringing yourself in compliance with the law will show the court that you are taking the case seriously and likely result in less harsh punishment. Finally, if you are convicted of driving on a suspended license and your punishment includes a further suspension, you may be able to petition for a restricted driver’s license to drive to and from work, school, church, medical appointments, court ordered visitation, and other programs. An attorney can help you fill out the application accurately and advise you of the consequences of driving outside of your restrictions.