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Not properly notified of Suspended Virginia Driver's License? Judge should rule Not Guilty!

By David Cardon on August 12, 2016


Notice Required for Virginia Suspended License Convictions

 

Driving on a suspended license defined:

Driving on a suspended is defined as “Any resident or non-resident who operates a motor vehicle in the commonwealth (while their) driver’s license, learner’s permit or privilege to drive a motor vehicle has been suspended or revoked or who has been directed not to drive by any court, by the DMV Commissioner, or by operation of law or who has been forbidden as prescribed by law, by the DMV Commissioner, the State Corporation Commission, the Commonwealth Transportation Commissioner, any court, or the Superintendent of the State Police.

What are the penalties for Driving on a Suspended License charge in Virginia?

It depends on if you've been convicted before.  If a judge finds you guilty of driving on a suspended license and the violation is your first offense, you are guilty of a class 2 misdemeanor.  The punishment for a class 2 misdemeanor is up to six months in jail and/or up to a $1,000.00 fine.  If this is your second or subsequent offense, you are guilty of a class 1 misdemeanor.  The punishment for a class 1 misdemeanor is up to 12 months in jail and/or up to a $2,500.00 fine.  Also, for any conviction, the judge shall suspend your license further for the same period for which it had been previously suspended or revoked when you violated the law by driving on the suspended or revoked license.

Notice required for conviction: For the judge to find you guilty of driving on a suspended license, there must be proof that you knew your license was suspended.  If the police officer asks you and you tell him or her your license is suspended when you are pulled over, that could be enough proof  to convict you.  If you told the officer you did not know your license was suspended, the officer will have to offer some other proof to the court to prove you knew it was suspended.  A certified DMV abstract showing you were notified by the court or by a police officer would be adequate proof. A DMV abstract showing notice was mailed to you, it can be argued, is not adequate proof, because there is no way for the court to establish you actually received the notice.

Your driver’s license could be suspended for some of the following:

1)      Serious traffic/criminal infractions-If you are convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, reckless driving, marijuana possession, and/or driving while your driving privilege is suspended or revoked, the judge can and in some cases must suspend your license to drive.

2)      Failure to pay court fines/costs-If you fail to pay court fines and costs within 10 days of your court date, your license to drive will automatically be suspended by the court and DMV.  You can request that the court clerk give you more than 10 days to pay the fines and court costs.  If you do not pay the fines and court costs in full by the date set by the clerk, your license to drive will be suspended.

3)      DMV demerit points-  Your license will be automatically suspended by the DMW if you accumulate too many demerit points on your driving record within a specified period of time, or if you accumulate demerit points while on probation.  The only way to avoid this suspension is to attend driving school and/or accumulate positive DMV points.  You accumulate positive points for attending driving school and one positive DMV point for every year you drive without traffic convictions.

4)      Civil judgement from auto accident- You can also have your driver’ license suspended if someone has a civil judgement against you for damages arising from an automobile accident.  The only way to have your license reinstated is to pay the judgment in full or have the judgment marked satisfied by the judgment holder.

 

If suspended, do not elude the police- If you know your license is suspended and find yourself being stopped by a police officer, resist the urge to elude the officer;  you will just make the situation much, much worse.  The police officer has the authority to arrest you on site for driving on a suspended license.  The officer can decide; however, not to arrest you and might just give you a summons to appear in court.  If you are uncooperative or if you try to flee, you can count on being charged with a felony and being arrested immediately.

Do I need an attorney? - If you are arrested for driving on a suspended license, speak to an attorney that concentrates on traffic infractions as soon as possible.  A good attorney can evaluate your case and discover any defenses or mitigating circumstances.  The attorney can present evidence; examine you, the police officer, and any witnesses; and negotiate with the commonwealth attorney prosecuting your case to achieve the best possible result when you go to court.  Be sure to hire an attorney who specializes in traffic defense and who regularly practices in the jurisdiction where you were charged.

The best way to avoid having to face a driving on a suspended charge is not to drive when your license is suspended.  If you did not know your license was suspended, be sure to tell the judge that fact on your return date.

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