Driving on a suspended license in Florida can lead to severe penalties. It is a criminal offense and could either be a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the reason your license was suspended.
The penalty for driving on a suspended license will vary but having an experienced criminal defense lawyer is highly advisable to get the best outcome possible. Dean Tsourakis concentrates on avoiding potential criminal penalties and helping Florida drivers obtain their license or get their driver’s license reinstated.
Causes for Florida Driver’s License Suspensions
There are multiple causes of driver’s license suspension. Some are obvious, while others may be less familiar, which is often why people are sometimes surprised when they get arrested for driving on a suspended license in Florida. Here are common reasons why a driver’s license is suspended:
- Driving Under the Influence (DUI)
- Failure to appear in court
- Failure to pay a traffic citation
- Failure to pay child support
- Excessive points on your driving record
- Conviction for Possession of Controlled Substance (Marijuana/Cocaine)
- Financial Responsibility Suspensions (Lapse of Insurance)
- Failure to meet Out-of-State obligations
- Habitual Traffic Offender (HTO) revocation
Florida Penalties for Driving on a Suspended License
The penalty for driving on a suspended license in Florida will depend on whether or not it is a repeat offense.
1st offense — Up to 60 days county jail time and a fine up to $500
2nd offense — Up to 1 year county jail time and a fine up to $1,000
3rd offense — Up to 5 years state prison time and a fine up to $5,000
A third offense for driving on a suspended (or revoked) license in Florida is often considered by the court as a felony. In addition, if a person is convicted of a third offense for driving on a suspended license within a five-year period, they will be declared a Habitual Traffic Offender (HTO).
When you are declared an HTO, your driver’s license is automatically suspended for five years. Under Florida law, it is not up to the judge. The Florida Department of Highway Safety, Division of Driver Licenses takes this administrative action.
It is not uncommon for people to find out after pleading guilty or no contest that their driver’s license was suspended for five years. Driving on a suspended license is not a simple traffic matter. It can have extremely serious consequences, so it is so important to have an attorney experienced in these types of cases.
Potential Defenses to Driving on a Suspended License
If you get arrested, your criminal defense attorney will develop strategies for your defense to minimize any penalties and, in the best-case scenario, get your case thrown out. Some of the possible defenses from your attorney may include:
- The traffic stop was invalid/unconstitutional
- You were unaware that your license was under suspension
- The road you were driving on was not a public highway
- You were not driving the vehicle
- The law enforcement officer charged you with the wrong statute number or subsection
- Challenging the validity of a previous conviction of driving on a suspended license
Depending on your case, a criminal defense attorney may also be able to introduce mitigating circumstances to get a more lenient sentence.
- You were driving to school
- You were driving to work to support your family
- You were picking up a child from school or at daycare
- You were driving to a doctor’s appointment or another type of medical care reason
Contact a Criminal Defense Attorney to Represent Your Case
The penalties involved in a conviction for driving on a suspended license in Florida can be extremely serious. A Clearwater criminal defense attorney utilizes expertise and experience to help get the best outcome possible in your case.
Dean Tsourakis has extensive experience on both sides of the table, with prior experience working as a Prosecutor with the State Attorney’s Office for many years. He understands the complexities of the justice system and fights hard for the rights of his clients. With a criminal defense attorney, you are much more likely to have penalties reduced to avoid jail time, further suspension of your license, high fines, and even probation. We have been very successful in restoring licenses for habitual offenders.on Aug 4, 2021