police officer checking drivers licenseDriving with a suspended license is a crime in Florida that could result in jail time, a fine, and the long-term consequences of a criminal conviction. Accordingly, you need to understand the charges against you, the potential penalties, and how an experienced Florida criminal defense lawyer can help you.

Florida Law: Driving on a Suspended License

Florida Statute § 322.34 makes it a crime for anyone who knows that their license has been suspended, revoked, or canceled to drive on Florida highways. A person is considered to know of a license suspension, revocation, or cancellation if they admit to knowing about it, received the required notice, or a judgment appears in the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles records. In some cases, knowledge can be successfully contested.

Penalties for Driving While License Is Suspended in Florida

Depending on the circumstances of the case, driving with a suspended license could be a misdemeanor or a felony. The specific penalties for driving with a suspended license in Florida include the following:

  • First offense. Your first offense can result in a sentence of up to 60 days in jail and a fine of up to $500.
  • Second offense. Your second offense is a first-degree misdemeanor with a potential penalty of one year in jail and a fine of up to $1,000.
  • Third offense. Your third offense is a felony, and you could face a sentence of up to five years in jail and a fine of up to $5,000.

If you are convicted of a third offense within five years of your previous two offenses, the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles may also label you a Habitual Traffic Offender. As a Habitual Traffic Offender, you will have a five-year license revocation and be unable to apply for a hardship license for at least one year.

Additionally, whether it is your first, second, third, or subsequent offense, a conviction will create a permanent criminal record that could be seen by employers, financial lenders, schools, and others.

Potential Defenses for Driving With a Suspended License

A criminal charge does not mean that you will be convicted. You have the right to defend yourself with the help of an experienced Florida criminal defense lawyer. Some possible defenses to driving with a suspended license include the following:

  • You were not driving the vehicle. If you were a passenger in the vehicle, you should not face a driving with a suspended license charge.
  • The traffic stop was illegal. Legal challenges to the traffic stop could impact the charges against you.
  • You did not know your license was suspended, canceled, or revoked. Knowledge is a critical element of this crime.
  • Your license was reinstated. The law only applies if your driver’s license is actively suspended, canceled, or revoked. If your license was reinstated or you had reason to believe it was reinstated, you may have a defense to the charges against you.
  • You were not on a public highway. The law only applies to public highways in Florida.
  • The vehicle you were operating was not a motor vehicle. The law only applies to motor vehicles that you need a license to operate.

If your defense is successful, you will not face the penalties described above.

Don’t Take a Moving Violation Charge Lightly

You need strong professional legal representation to ensure the most favorable outcome. Fort Lauderdale criminal defense attorney Robert Malove has years of experience successfully representing clients facing moving violation criminal cases in the state of Florida. If you are in this situation, contact Mr. Malove immediately to discuss the details of your case. He will work hard to find a defense strategy that will prevent your case from turning into something much more damaging and your record from being tarnished by a driving-with-a-suspended-license conviction.

Mr. Malove can help resolve your case in different ways. For example, a driving with a suspended license case may be resolved through an Administrative Resolution, an amendment to the charge that lessens the penalties, or a strong defense in court.