What Is Driving on a Suspended License (VC 14601)? Fines?
Sometimes, the client is driving without a valid license because he or she is not a U.S. Citizen, but with the enactment of AB60, effective January 1, 2015, any California resident may apply for a driver’s license, regardless of one’s immigration status. The applicant, of course, must be the proper age and otherwise still qualify, i.e. pay off all outstanding traffic tickets and show proof of identity and residency.The Point of This Article: Driving without a valid license can be filed as an infraction or a misdemeanor, depending upon the facts of the case and defendant’s prior criminal history. If defendant later obtains a valid license, the case will often be dismissed or reduced to an infraction with just a court fine. However, for those who chronically drive without a valid license, the judge can impose up to six months in county jail.
Often, the client is not aware that his or her license has expired or, less frequently, the client recently went to the DMV to rectify the problem, but as Murphy’s Law applies, the traffic stop occurs before the DMV mails the new license.
When any of these situations arise, clients often believe there is no reason to appear in court at all. This is a big mistake, as a failure to appear in court or have an attorney appear for you can and usually does result in the judge issuing a bench warrant for the client’s arrest. Once the arrest is made, bail to be released can be up to $30,000.
When a charge of driving on a suspended or revoked license (Vehicle Code § 14601) is bundled with other charges, for example DUI, the client must also appear in court or have an attorney appear for them if the charges are misdemeanor DUI. Driving on a revoked or suspended license is more serious than just driving without a valid license, although it is often difficult for the District Attorney to prove because the prosecutor must prove the driver knowingly drove on a suspended or revoked license.
Charges for driving without a valid license (Vehicle Code § 12500(a)) can be filed as a misdemeanor or an infraction. Such a violation is charged as infraction when the client has never before been charged with this, and or a misdemeanor if the client has. If filed as a misdemeanor, the maximum jail time is six months, the maximum fine is $1,000 and the court may impound the car for up to thirty days, at the client’s expense. When the case is filed as an infraction, the maximum fine is $250 and there is no jail time involved.
For more information about the court process in general, click on the following articles:
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