By Attorney Daveta Williams
Your driver’s license may be suspended as a result of failing to pay traffic tickets, court costs, child support, FR judgments, or point suspension, to name a few. If your license is suspended and you were stopped while driving, it is likely that you have been charged with Driving While License Suspended (“DWLS”). Oftentimes, this results in the officer issuing a citation and/or making an arrest. In cases where there was not an arrest, it may be difficult to distinguish between a criminal citation and a civil citation for DWLS and the effects of each.
If you have been issued a civil citation (“traffic ticket”) for DWLS without knowledge, court is not mandatory. A civil citation does not require a court appearance unless you elect a hearing. In the event that you do not elect a hearing for your civil citation, payment of the traffic ticket will result in adjudication, and points will be assessed on your license. In order to avoid points or if you are concerned about points on your license, then it is in your best interest to elect a hearing. It is beneficial to also retain counsel for this hearing. An attorney can make arguments on your behalf to ensure that points are not accessed or, under certain circumstances, can make an argument for a dismissal of your civil DWLS.
If you were not arrested, but received a civil citation for DWLS with knowledge and received a mandatory court date, this is considered a criminal DWLS. If you were arrested for DWLS, it is very likely that you will be charged with a criminal DWLS. If you are stopped for the first time for driving while license is suspended, the officer may issue a civil DWLS or criminal DWLS. If you are convicted (“adjudicated”) for DWLS, this will count as one strike towards becoming a habitual traffic offender (“HTO”). Whether you will receive a civil DWLS or criminal DWLS will depend on your driving record, notice of suspension, reason for suspension, among other things.
Driving while your license is suspended is considered an enhanceable offense, which means if you receive a second or third DWLS, the punishment is enhanced. For example, if you have a previous DWLS conviction, and you are stopped for a second time for driving without a license, you can face up to one year of jail and/or twelve months of probation. If you are stopped for a third time for driving without a license, it is very likely that you will be arrested and can be charged with a felony DWLS, which could result in you becoming a habitual traffic offender. A habitual traffic offender is a person who has their license revoked for a period of five years. This person has been convicted of three qualifying traffic offenses within a five-year period. Some qualifying offenses are DWLS and driving under the influence (“DUI”).
Having a conviction on your record for driving while your license is suspended or being a habitual traffic offender may cause additional hardships on your life, especially if you hold a commercial driver’s license (“CDL”). It can also cause hardship on your life by having a permanent mark on your record, increased insurance premiums, and can be detrimental to your professional license or career. If you have been issued a citation or have been arrested for driving while your license is suspended, revoked, canceled, or expired (“DWLS”), we can assist you with the civil citation and/or criminal case. Here at Gans Law, we can also assist you with the full reinstatement of your license or obtaining a hardship or business purposes only (“BPO”) license. Contact our office today for a free consultation.