Driving on Suspended License
Driving on a suspended driver's license is a serious offense in Virginia. Under Virginia law section 46.2-301, driving on a suspended driver's license is a Class 1 Misdemeanor, the most serious type of misdemeanor offense in Virginia. Because a Misdemeanor is a criminal charge, the consequences can be severe. If convicted of driving on a suspended license, you can face up to one year in jail and a $2,500 fine. It is extremely rare for Virginia judges to impose the maximum sentence, but not at all uncommon for judges to sentence a driver to several days in jail. In fact, law section 46.2-301 says that if you have had two or more prior convictions for driving with a suspended license, the minimum sentence a judge can give you is 10 days in jail!
As if this was not serious enough, a conviction for driving on a suspended license often comes with an additional license suspension that is separate and apart from the underlying suspension that is the basis of the driving suspended charge. Virginia law actually requires a judge who finds a defendant guilty of driving on a suspended driver's license to suspend that person's license for the same period of time for which the person's license was originally suspended. For example, if the person's license was originally suspended for six months due to a Reckless Driving conviction, and that person is then later convicted on a driving suspended charge, the judge must re-suspend the person's license for an additional six months. Where a person's license was not suspended for a specific period of time, Virginia law allows a judge to re-suspend that person's license for up to an additional ninety days if they are convicted for driving on a suspended license. These separate license suspensions do not even begin until the underlying suspension is over.
There are numerous other complications that can arise depending on the reason a driver's license was suspended, how long it was suspended, how many times the driver has been charged with driving on a suspended license, whether they were ever charged with driving on a revoked license or without a valid license (both different offenses), whether the driver was eligible for reinstatement, and many other factors.
Driving on a suspended license is a very serious matter. The good news is that there are many elements that a prosecutor must prove in order for a driver to be found guilty of the offense, and many defenses that an attorney can use to help his or her client. A good traffic attorney can help you ensure that you have all the necessary information and get the best possible result for your case.