A driving while license suspended ticket or arrest can lead to frustrating and expensive penalties, and yet, many people who are charged with this misdemeanor had no idea that their license was suspended in the first place. Still, that may not save someone charged with the crime, whether you find yourself in a criminal county court, a municipal court or justice of the peace court. Fortunately, those frustrating and expensive penalties may be largely mitigated with the help of an experienced attorney. One of the biggest mistakes people make after getting caught with a suspended license is resolving the charge on their own. In most cases, this does not work out well for the offender, and it can end up putting them in an even deeper hole.
What will trigger a license suspension?
There are many scenarios that may lead to a license suspension, and most of them make obvious sense. A few, though, aren’t directly connected to the act of driving, and people caught in this way may not realize that they are taking a risk every time they get behind the wheel. For reference, this is what can lead to license suspension:
- Getting attention as a habitual offender – Picking up multiple moving violations in a short period of time will eventually catch up to a driver. Typically, four moving violation convictions within a year is enough to result in suspension. Moving violations include things like speeding, running a red light, failure to yield or signal, or using a phone in a prohibited jurisdiction.
- Causing a serious accident – Anyone who is responsible for an accident that results in serious injury or death, or anyone who is convicted of criminally negligent homicide by motor vehicle will have their license immediately and invariably suspended.
- Conviction for a variety of alcohol, drug or criminal mischief offenses – Some of those offenses include driving while intoxicated, drug possession, graffiti, providing alcohol to a minor, tampering with a license plate or registration sticker, or committing alcohol or drug related offenses when under 21. These will likely net the offender a suspension.
Convictions for one of several crimes with a vehicle – Racing, fleeing from or evading police while in a vehicle, or any other felony offense as defined through motor vehicle laws will result in license suspension.
License-related convictions – For example, furnishing a fraudulent license for the purposes of driving or purchasing alcohol will result in suspension. Also, allowing someone else to use the license will also see it suspended.
- Conviction in another state that would result in license suspension – Modern state driver’s license agencies are linked together using a shared communication system, and this crosses state borders. As such, committing a crime in another state that would result in license suspension can eventually trigger that suspension in Texas.
- Being medically unfit to drive – Some medical conditions, such as seizures, may result in someone losing their driving privileges. This one is difficult, as those privileges, when revoked, are indefinite. Attorney intervention can help someone who is in the process of losing their license for medical reasons.
What should someone do if they are caught driving with a suspended license?
Once a license is suspended, it’s extremely risky to attempt to drive. Yes, most will get away with it for a time. Getting caught driving without a valid license is a serious charge. In Texas, a first-time offense is considered either a Class C misdemeanor, which is punishable with up to a $500 fine, or a Class B misdemeanor, which is punishable with up to a $2,000 fine and six months in county jail, depending on why you are suspended. There are additional penalties, though, that will quickly add up in cost. For one, the license will be suspended again, usually for an additional year. Also, expensive surcharges will be added onto the fines, and these surcharges will need to be paid to keep the license valid. These surcharges will be stretched out over several years, so a single conviction can prove to be a constant problem well into the future.
It is critical, then, that those charged with driving while their license is suspended seek assistance from a lawyer as soon as they are notified of the charge. Just paying the ticket, for instance, will be treated by the court as an admission of guilt, and will result in conviction. That will trigger an additional license suspension and more surcharges.
In many cases, an attorney can prevent a further suspension of your license. Even following an additional suspension, an attorney is often able to reinstate some of the offender’s driving privileges. For people who rely on their vehicle for travel to work or child care, this is crucial.
The accused have a right to fight back when charged with a crime, and it’s no different when that crime involves a suspended license. With an attorney’s help, the worst parts of a driving while suspended charge may be avoided.