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Driving on a Suspended License in Fairfax

When your license is suspended, you legally lack the ability to drive. A person’s license can be suspended in Fairfax for a lot of different reasons. In my experience, driving on a suspended license is due to being found guilty of some type of traffic misdemeanor or infraction – such as Reckless Driving or DWI/DUI (hyperlink to Reckless Driving and DUI/DWI page). Sometimes it’s due to not paying fines and court costs or child support. In other cases, the DMV can administratively suspend licenses for various reasons, rapid point acceleration being very common (receiving a lot of demerit points in a short period of time).

Possible Penalties for Driving on a Suspended License in Fairfax

In cases of Reckless Driving convictions, the court may take the person’s license for up to 6-months. For a DWI/DUI conviction, the court may take a person’s license for up to 1-year. Unfortunately for that person, they have responsibilities like: family, work, school, etc. – they need to drive in order to live. Often, there is no other way for them to get to work, or to school, so they risk it and drive anyway. This is very true in Northern Virginia because so many people are not from this area, as they have relocated from somewhere else, have no family in the area and not a large network of friends to lean on.

When a person’s license is suspended by a court, they are required to sign a document acknowledging that their license is suspended. In other cases, a person may not lose their license because of what happens in court, but they subsequently fail to pay their court costs. This happens a lot in minor traffic infraction cases such as speeding. (hyperlink to speeding). In that case, and by operation of law, their license is suspended – even if the judge did not take it on the day of court. In Virginia, you have 30-days to pay your fines and court costs in the event you are found guilty of any traffic infraction. After 30-days you will receive a letter from the DMV indicating you are suspended.

What if You Didn’t Know You Were Suspended?

In order to be found guilty of driving on a suspended license, the prosecutor must prove the person had knowledge of the suspension. In cases where the license was suspended by a judge, and the person signed a document acknowledging that suspension, the prosecutor’s job is easy. What if the person fails to pay their court costs? What happens when DMV mails them a letter saying their license is suspended but they do not receive the letter? Do they have notice? Can there be a successful prosecution? The lynchpin of a successful prosecution in driving on suspended cases is “knowledge,” and that is typically the most litigated aspect of driving on a suspended license.

Loss of License Because of DUI / DWI Refusal

In DWI, DUI and Refusal cases in Fairfax and Northern Virginia (hyperlink), a person loses their ability to drive for 1-year. Often, the person receives a restricted license by the court. That license permits the person to drive during specified times and only to specified places. If the person is caught driving outside of their restrictions, they are considered to be driving on a suspended license. There is a specific code section for this situation – §18.2-272. §18.2-272 applies to driving on a suspended license, when the license was suspended due to a DWI/DUI conviction. The penalties in this code section are much harsher than found in §46.2-301. If found guilty, a person will have their license revoked for 12-months, and jail time is very possible – even on a first-offense. It will almost assuredly trigger a probation violation with respect to the underlying DWI/DUI charge.

Penalties for Violation of §46.2-301 in Fairfax:

Class 1 Misdemeanor
Punishable by up to 1-year in jail or up to a $2500 fine
Re-suspension of our driver’s license for the same period of time for which it was previously suspended
If it is a 3rd offense, the punishment includes a mandatory 10-day incarceration

Penalties For Violation of §46.2-272 in Fairfax:

Class 1 Misdemeanor
Punishable by up to 1-year in jail or up to a $2500 fine
Mandatory License Revocation for 1-year (No Restricted License)

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NCDD National College for DUI Defense: Michael A. Robinson
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