Driving While License Suspended, Canceled or Revoked
DWLS Law and Penalties
Driving While License Suspended, Canceled or Revoked (DWLS) is an offense in Florida ranging in severity from a traffic infraction to a felony charge depending on the facts and the Defendant’s criminal record. A person who unknowingly drives with a suspended, canceled or revoked license faces a noncriminal traffic infraction. Any knowing violations of this law, however, subjects the accused to criminal charges.
The first conviction for DWLS with knowledge is a second degree misdemeanor, punishable by 60 days in the county jail and a $500 fine. A second conviction for DWLS with knowledge can be classified as a first degree misdemeanor, raising the maximum penalty to 1 year in jail and a $1000 fine. As expected, a third conviction for DWLS with knowledge can be charged as a third degree felony with a potential sentence of 5 years in state prison and a $5000 fine. Penalty enhancements also exist for aggravating factors such as causing a crash resulting in serious bodily injury or being on habitual traffic offender status.
Reasons for Driver License Suspension, Cancellation or Revocation
While the law on Driving While License Suspended, Canceled or Revoked is self-explanatory in terms of what is prohibited (Florida Statute §322.34), understanding the cause of your suspension, cancelation or revocation and how it relates to your charge is not quite as simple. There are several reasons why your license might be suspended, canceled or revoked:
- A DUI conviction
- An administrative suspension by the DMV for refusal to submit to a breath test or blowing over the legal limit
- A conviction for a drug offense
- A conviction for Fleeing to Elude police
- Too many points on your driver’s license
- A D6 suspension for failure to appear in court
- A traffic case involving serious bodily injury or death
- Expiration of U.S. immigration status
- Designation as a Habitual Traffic Offender (HTO)
- …and more.
The length of your suspension depends on the reason for suspension. For example, if you have been designated a Habitual Traffic Offender your license is suspended for five years. A Habitual Traffic Offender is someone with 3 DWLS (or any combination of 3 DWLS and DUI) convictions within 5 years. Misdemeanor and administrative DUI suspensions range from 6 months to 1 year. D6 suspensions for failures to appear can be reversed almost immediately upon paying the D6 fee at the clerk’s office or filing a Motion to Clear D6 Suspension.
In general, the longer your suspension, the harsher the penalty in court for driving on that suspension.
What Happens in Court?
Unless you are charged with unknowingly Driving While License Suspended, Canceled or Revoked, you have mandatory court. (With an unknowing DWLS, you have the option of going to court to fight your case – but you don’t have to.) Your case will normally begin at the scene of the alleged incident (when you were pulled over) with a citation, Notice to Appear and/or physical arrest. From there, the law enforcement officer submits the citation and/or arrest report to the clerk of courts. The clerk’s office then enters the documents into the court system and creates a case number. Shortly after, you should receive a Notice of Hearing to appear in court.
You may have more than one court hearing. The reason for this is to review the government’s evidence, prepare your defense, engage in plea negotiations, and weigh your options. In most cases, it is a bad idea to resolve your case at the first court hearing (called arraignment) because you have no knowledge and no bargaining power without further investigation of the case.
At the conclusion of all the pre-trial hearings (often called case dispositions, status checks, or plea conferences), you may decide to resolve your case or go to trial. Naturally, the State Attorney’s Office (the prosecuting agency) has the burden of proving the case against you beyond a reasonable doubt.
How We Can Help
Casanova Law is a criminal defense law firm in Wellington, Florida with years of experience in criminal and traffic cases such as Driving While License Suspended, Canceled or Revoked. Founding Attorney Lourdes Casanova is a former prosecutor who has handled thousands of DWLS cases. Our goal is to get your case dismissed.
We will help you navigate through the criminal justice system by attending court hearings on your behalf, presenting you in the best light to the court, reviewing the evidence, engaging in negotiations with the prosecution, and fighting for you in trial if you decide to exercise that right.
Contact us today to begin on your case.