If you have been charged with driving on a suspended license and issued a ticket to appear in court, you may want to consult with a DUI attorney before you go. Driving on a suspended license is covered by California Vehicle Code section 14601.1 and section 14601.2 Both sections are punishable by jail with a first offense up to six months under 14601.1 and up to six months jail and a MANDATORY MINIMUM of ten days in jail for the first offense for a VC14601.2 which constitutes driving without a license because of a DUI conviction.
What may seem like just another “ticket” can actually turn into an extended period of incarceration in certain circumstances. As already stated, VC14601.2 is based on a DUI suspension. All other driving on suspended cases are filed under VC14601.2 These include: where the suspension was triggered by too many points on the DMV record, failure to renew the license, failure to pay child support, or even for a conviction of vandalism or reckless driving. All of these aforementioned will almost always carry a temporary license suspension.
Because driving is such a necessary activity especially in southern California, it can be very difficult to get around without driving. As such, it becomes very difficult to avoid racking up numerous tickets for driving on a suspended license.
This is where an attorney can be very helpful. Even where you may have two or three charges for driving on a suspended license out of two or more courts, the first thing to do is get the warrants recalled if the cases have gone to warrant status. If they haven’t, then the attorney can make the appearances for you and plead not guilty for you. As a strategy, the cases can be continued until the defendant has obtained his or her license and in so doing the court ,(judge or district attorney), will take this into consideration and reduce the sentence or in some cases even reduce the charge to a Vehicle Code section 12500 which is driving without a license in possession. As such it will often be reduced to an infraction from a misdemeanor and will carry no term of probation with a small fine.
Other strategies include pleading guilty to the charge of driving on a suspended license (VC14601) but putting off sentencing for three to six months allowing the defendant to obtain his or her license and bring it to court on the day of sentencing for a pre-agreed upon sentence which is significantly better than what would otherwise would have been .
Judges and prosecutors will usually take this into consideration and reduce the sentence.
Regarding driving on a suspended license because of DUI, the statute is clear: “Upon a first conviction, by imprisonment in the county jail for not less than 10 days or more than six months and by a fine of not less than three hundred dollars or more than one thousand dollars…” Tack on court fees and assessments and the fine will be between $1000 and upwards of $3,500. For most people jail is not an option but the court will not hesitate to impose a jail sentence. There are options that can take the place of spending time in a jail facility. Depending on the circumstances of the defendant, some judges will allow for home confinement or “house arrest”, some judges will allow for work furlough or Caltrans work picking up trash or doing other kinds of physical labor.