Can I Go to Jail for Driving on a Suspended License in Virginia?Swango Law P.C
While you may regard driving as a basic right, the fact is that operating a vehicle is something that must be earned and maintained by demonstrating lawful driving. Under certain circumstances, your Virginia driver’s license can be suspended for a specific period of time, depending on your driving record or particular violation(s). Even with all life responsibilities, driving on a suspended license is a mistake that you cannot afford because of the major consequences that come with it.
Is Driving on a Suspended License a Misdemeanor or Felony in Virginia?
Under Virginia law, driving with a suspended license is a very serious misdemeanor offense. It can be classified as a Class 1 misdemeanor, which means it’s just one classification short of being a felony offense. The potential range of punishment involves up to 12 months in jail and/or $2,500 maximum fine. So, yes, you can go to jail for driving on a suspended license in Virginia!
When your Virginia driver’s license is suspended, you are temporarily not supposed to drive—not to work, the grocery store, religious places, or picking your kids up at school. In addition to the jail time, when convicted of driving on a suspended license, your license will be suspended again for a period of time equal to the original. For instance, if your license had been suspended for 90 days and you are later convicted of driving with the suspended license, then the judge must suspend your license for an additional 90 days. The state of Virginia may also impound your vehicle, which means paying storage and impound fees before your vehicle is released.
Reasons for Driver’s License Suspension in Virginia
There are different reasons that may lead to the suspension of your Virginia driver’s license, including:
- Getting a reckless driving conviction
- A health condition that negatively affects your ability to drive such as loss of motor functions, seizures, and impaired vision
- Not paying your vehicle’s insurance
- Failing to pay child support, court costs, or being involved in a motor vehicle crash
- Driving while not carrying your vehicle’s insurance policy which must be valid and active
- Having too many points for traffic violations
- Driving Under the Influence of alcohol or drugs (DUI)
- Providing false information when applying for a driver’s license
If you are convicted of a third offense of driving on a suspended license, the judge is required by Virginia law to sentence you to a minimum ten day active jail sentence. More jail time can be given if you are convicted of a fourth or subsequent offense.
Defenses against Driving on a Suspended License
In order to be convicted of driving on a suspended license, the prosecutor must prove a few things:
- You were caught operating a vehicle
- Your license was indeed suspended
- You got a proper notice of license suspension and chose to ignore
But here are a few points to keep in mind:
- Notice of suspension
An arrest should not always lead to jail time. Virginia law indicates that you have to be notified of your license suspension. If your suspension notice wasn’t forwarded to you by the time you are arrested, you may have a defense to the charge. A traffic defense attorney can help you understand the situation and determine if challenging the notice is a valid option for your case.
Driving on a suspended license does not always lead to jail time because Virginia law allows you to drive if you are in a situation of extreme emergency or you need to save life. If you are charged with driving due to an emergency, you must provide enough evidence to present a solid defense in court.
- Unlawful stop by police
Another important factor to look into involves the way you were arrested by the police. Even with a suspended license, law enforcement officers must have reasonable suspicion that you are committing a crime or violating traffic laws. Under Virginia law, if the stop was unlawful, then your case can be dismissed even if you were driving with a suspended license.
Hire the Traffic Defense Lawyers at Swango Law P.C.
At Swango Law, we have helped thousands of people accused of driving on a suspended license. We are here to help advise you based on all facts of your unique case. Our highly experienced traffic defense attorneys will fight for you to have your charges dismissed or reduced and most importantly, help you avoid going to jail. Have you been accused of driving on a suspended license? Our skilled, dedicated lawyers at Swango Law firm can help. We offer free consultations to help you understand your options. Call us today at (757) 383-9229 or contact us online.