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Vehicle Code 14601 Driving on a Suspended License

Having a car is almost a necessity for people in California. Public transportation options may be limited in certain areas or may not be available at all times of the day. Commuting by bicycle is not an option for everyone and taxis or Lyft can get expensive. Many people need to have a car to get to and from work, school, or medical appointments. 

After an arrest or violation results in a suspended license, the individual may still feel like they have no other choice but to take a chance and drive without a license. This includes driving someone to the hospital in an emergency, taking the wheel for an impaired friend, or going to a court hearing to try and challenge the license suspension. 

Getting caught driving without a valid license can result in additional penalties and criminal charges. Under California Vehicle Code Sections 14601 through 14601.5, it is a violation to drive on a suspended license. If you have questions about a 14601 VC violation, contact a local East Bay DUI defense lawyer.

Vehicle Codes 14601 to 14601.5 VC Text 

California Vehicle Code Section 14601 and others address specific violations of driving on a suspended or revoked license. Driving on a suspended license has different penalties depending on the situation and why the license was suspended in the first place, as follows: 

California Vehicle Code Section 14601 - Reckless driving

No person shall drive a motor vehicle at any time when that person's driving privilege is suspended or revoked for reckless driving, if the DMV has refused to issue a license, or because of negligent operation. The penalties for driving with a suspended license include: 

  • Jail of 5 days to 6 months
  • Fine of $300 to $1000

For a second or subsequent violation within 5 years, the penalty includes jail for 10 days to 1 year, and a fine of up to $2,000. 

California Vehicle Code Section 14601.1 - Suspended for any other reason

No person shall drive a motor vehicle at any time when that person's driving privilege is suspended or revoked for any reason not specified in any of the other sections. The penalties for driving on a suspended license include: 

  • Jail for up to 6 months
  • Fine of $300 to $1000

For a second or subsequent violation within 5 years, the penalty includes jail for 5 days to 1 year, and a fine of up to $2,000. 

California Vehicle Code Section 14601.2 - DUI

No person shall drive a motor vehicle at any time when that person's driving privilege is suspended or revoked for a conviction for a DUI under Section 23152 or 23153. The penalties for driving with a suspended license after a DUI include: 

  • Jail of 10 days to 6 months
  • Fine of $300 to $1000

For a second or subsequent violation within 5 years, the penalty includes jail for 30 days to 1 year, and a fine of up to $2,000. 

For a second or subsequent violation after more than 5 years but within 7 years, the penalty includes jail for at least 10 days.

California Vehicle Code Section 14601.3 - Habitual traffic offender

If a driver accumulates enough points on their driving record while they are under a license suspension, they may be classified as a habitual traffic offender. To be considered a habitual traffic offender, the driver's record history could include: 

  • Two or more convictions within a 12-month period of an offense given a violation point count of two.
  • Three or more convictions within a 12-month period of an offense given a violation point count of one.
  • Three or more accidents within a 12-month period which are subject to the reporting requirements.
  • Any combination of convictions or accidents which result in a point count of 3 or more within a 12-month period.

The penalties for a habitual traffic offender include imprisonment in the county jail for 30 days and by a fine of $1,000. A second or subsequent conviction within 7 years is punishable by imprisonment in the county jail for 180 days and a fine of $2,000.

California Vehicle Code Section 14601.4 - Causing bodily injury

If a person drives and causes bodily injury while on a DUI suspended license, they may be charged with a misdemeanor, punishable by up to 6 months in jail. A second offense within 5 years can include imprisonment for up to 1 year. Upon a conviction, the individual will not be released for work release or community service until after the minimum period of imprisonment.

California Vehicle Code Section 14601.5 - Chemical test refusal

No person shall drive a motor vehicle at any time when that person's driving privilege is suspended or revoked for refusing to submit to a chemical test when arrested for a DUI. The penalties for driving on a suspended license include: 

  • Jail for up to 6 months
  • Fine of $300 to $1000

For a second or subsequent violation within 5 years, the penalty includes jail for 10 days to 1 year, and a fine of up to $2,000. 

Defenses to Driving on a Suspended License

It can be a defense to charges for driving on a suspended license if the driver did not know their license was suspended. Generally, knowledge is conclusively presumed if a mailed notice has been given to the person. However, there may be reasons why the individual never learned about the suspension or the DMV mailed the notice to the wrong address. 

Charges for driving on a suspended license can be costly and include jail time. If you were accused of driving on a suspended license, talk to your East Bay criminal defense attorney for help. Attorney Lynn Gorelick has more than 36 years of courtroom experience and understands the consequences of a criminal conviction for California drivers. Contact Alameda County and Contra Costa County defense attorney Lynn Gorelick today.

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