Driving With a Suspended License
The events that get people caught up in the criminal justice system in real life are often much different from what is depicted in the movies and on TV. If you’ve ever watched a prison drama, most of the inmates are depicted as violent outcasts from society serving lengthy sentences for heinous crimes. The reality in the courtroom is often much more banal. While people certainly get charged with and convicted of serious violent offenses, the vast majority of criminal offenses are nonviolent in nature. This results in a criminal justice system that often targets people for the criminal offense of being poor or down on their luck.
One of the criminal offenses commonly charged in Florida that best illustrates this pattern is the crime of Driving with a Suspended License or DWLS. In the State of Florida, it is a crime to operate a motor vehicle while your license is suspended. Now many people may say, “it’s not difficult to get and keep a license,” but Florida’s legislature has devised a myriad of ways that people can end up with their license suspended or revoked. A first time suspended license case may not seem all that serious, but suspended license charges can quickly and easily spiral out of control. In order to prevent this and in order to retain your right to operate a motor vehicle, it is imperative that you contact a skilled Sarasota criminal defense attorney immediately.Elements of Driving with A Suspended License
Driving with a suspended license is punishable under Florida Statute 322.34. Under the law, any person who either drives or is in actual physical control of a motor vehicle while his or her license is canceled, suspended, or revoked commits the crime of driving with a suspended license. There is a common misconception that someone with a suspended license is permitted to operate a motorcycle or scooter so long as the engine is less than 50 ccs. This is patently false. Any vehicle with a motor requires a valid Florida drivers license to operate.
Driving with a suspended license is an offense that escalates in seriousness the more times a person is convicted of it. A first offense is often charged as a non-criminal traffic infraction. A second offense is most often a second degree misdemeanor punishable by a maximum of 60 days. The charges can progress up to a first degree misdemeanor and finally, a third degree felony after three offenses. While the progression of seriousness in criminal offenses is nothing new, suspended license cases are unique in that each subsequent conviction increases the difficulty of regaining one’s privilege to operate a car. The more suspended license convictions a person has, the more likely they are to receive later convictions for the same offense. If you have found yourself in this scenario, you should contact a dedicated Sarasota criminal defense lawyer immediately to help you out of the cycle of criminality.
These problems can be compounded when someone becomes a habitual traffic offender. For example, if a person has his or her license suspended due to unpaid tickets and gets a first time suspended license infraction, that person may end up picking up a criminal suspended license case when they find that they cannot afford the exorbitant fees and costs. One additional conviction will make that person a habitual traffic offender, resulting in a mandatory five year suspension. Any suspended license offense during this five year suspension will automatically be a felony offense.Speak to Our Lawyers Today
The attorneys at Hanlon Law know that even criminal offenses that don’t seem serious at the outset can have dramatic effects on our clients lives. No matter how small the crime, you should always consult with a dedicated Sarasota criminal defense lawyer. For a consultation, call our office today at 941-462-1789.