If you think your license is suspended, but you’re not entirely sure, the best way to find out if your license has been suspended in California is to go straight to the source – the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). You’ll need to request a copy of your driver’s record.
There are three ways to do that:
- Online at dmv.ca.gov($2 fee).
- By mail by completing a Request for Your Own Driver License Identification Card or Vehicle/Vessel Registration Information Record (INF 1125) form ($5 fee).
- In person at your local DMV office ($5 fee).
Once you view your driver’s record, you will know if your license has been suspended or not. If your license has been suspended, you should not drive until you have resolved the suspension, at which time the DMV will charge you a reissue fee for restoring your driving privileges.
Failure to Pay (FTP) Law No Longer in Force
The good news is that the state of California no longer suspends your driver’s license for failure to pay fines such as those associated with traffic tickets and court fees. As a result, since June of 2017, the DMV has strived to reinstate driving privileges to all California drivers with suspended driver’s licenses only for failing to pay fines. The Department of Motor Vehicles has also removed any failure to pay notices from all of its driver’s records.
While your license won’t be suspended for failure to pay fines, you are still legally responsible to pay court fees and fines. And if your license was suspended for some other reason, such as a DUI, the FTP change won’t affect that suspension.
Visit the DMV FAQs on Failure to Pay Violations for more information.
For a free legal consultation, call (310) 896-2723
Know Why Your California Driver’s License Might Be Suspended
One of the reasons you might be unsure of the status of your driver’s license is that you might be unaware of the violation that led to the suspension. Suspension can occur due to:
- Failure to maintain auto insurance (potential suspension of up to four years)
- Failure to report a car accident
- Conviction for driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol (potential suspension of up to four years)
- Underage drinking, which will also result in a delay in receiving your first license
- Refusal to submit to blood alcohol concentration testing
- An accumulation of points on your driving record (potential suspension of up to a year and possible revocation)
- A conviction for vandalism could result in a one-year suspension
- Failure to pay court-ordered child support
Do not risk driving with a suspended license, as doing so could lead to serious penalties. If you believe one or more of these reasons could affect the status of your license, a local attorney can help you research its status and build a plan for restoring your driving privileges.
A Suspended License Can Be Risky and Expensive
When your driver’s license is suspended for any reason, the state typically notifies you of the suspension by mail, if not in person. Knowledge of your suspension is presumed once a mailed notification is sent.
According to California Vehicle Code 14601.1, potential penalties for knowingly driving with a suspended license can include:
- For a first conviction, you could face incarceration for up to six months, fines of up to $1,000, or both
- For second and subsequent convictions within a specified period of time, you could face incarceration for up to a year and fines of up to $2,000)
In addition, certain circumstances of cause and conviction could mean you will be required to install a certified ignition interlock device on your vehicle for up to three years.
The cost and inconvenience of a suspended license can also mean you will be ineligible to initiate or continue many types of employment. These can include the multitude of driver and delivery services available to consumers today or any other transportation-related employment that requires a valid driver’s license.
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Driving With a Suspended or Revoked License
If you’ve already been charged with driving with a suspended license, a Los Angeles lawyer specializing in suspended and revoked license cases can help.
Sometimes people risk driving with a suspended or revoked license because it’s a choice between breaking the law or getting fired from their job for not showing up.
If you’re pulled over for any sort of traffic violation, you will face criminal charges for driving with a suspended or revoked license.
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Difference Between a Suspended License and a Revoked License
In both cases, the DMV has taken away your driving privileges. In the case of a suspended license, you can get your license back after the suspension without much trouble. With a revoked license, the DMV completely canceled your license.
In that case, it will take a lot longer and a lot more work to get your license back. A criminal defense lawyer in Los Angeles can help you navigate this complicated process.
Here’s a little more detailed information:
When your license is suspended, it is generally suspended for a specific time – say 6 months to a year. Once the suspension period is over, you can apply to the DMV to get it reinstated. The court may have imposed other conditions you must meet as well, such as enrolling in traffic school.
But in most cases, you should be able to get your license back once your suspension time has passed. Getting it back is simple — all you have to do is present documentation at the DMV and pay a reinstatement fee.
When you have a revoked license, the revocation is often described as “permanent,” but there is usually a way to get driving privileges again. But be prepared to put in more time and effort. You’ll have to complete your entire sentence and probation period, and any other requirements set by the court. This can take years.
Even then, you must start all over as if you are applying for a first-time driver’s license. That means taking a written test and a road test and paying the associated fees. Only then can you potentially get your license back.
At Simmrin Law Group, we understand what you’re facing. Don’t try to navigate the legal system and DMV on your own. We can help you develop your defense, and in many cases, get the charges or penalties reduced.
Possible Defenses to Driving with a Suspended License
Your legal team can help you mitigate the penalties for driving with a suspended license. Possible defenses can include:
- Proving you were unaware of the status of your driver’s license
- Proving you did not receive appropriate notice of your suspension
Restoring your license to active and valid status is critical — particularly if your job depends on it. Even if your defense is successful, it can be a stressful and frustrating process to have your license restored since this action may not be automatic.
Building a strong defense can be difficult on your own. Your lawyer can help you defend your actions, negotiate a plea bargain that leads to reduced charges and penalties, avoid adding costly points to your driving record, and allow you to retain your driving privileges.
Contact us for a FREE Consultation
Whatever the circumstances of your traffic violations are, you can benefit from a lawyer working with you to help you get the best possible outcome. Call a Simmrin Law Group team member or use our contact form for a free case evaluation today. We’re available to help you 24/7.