Driving on a Revoked or Suspended License is one of the most serious traffic offenses one can be charged with in Virginia. The seriousness of this charge is second only to Virginia DUI | DWI with a high blood alcohol content (BAC).
This charge carries a real chance of jail time and most judges in northern Virginia will ask the defendant to hire an attorney if the defendant is unrepresented on the first court appearance. Notice of suspension and the reason for the police stop are key areas of the defense.
Bose Law Firm attorneys are former police officers, prosecutors and investigators. We used to make the stops and prosecute the cases - now we work for you! Watch the video below for an overview of our success in defending these Driving on a Suspended cases.
The maximum penalty for a first offense is a jail sentence of 6 months, a $1,000 fine, and a license suspension for the same period for which it had been previously suspended (or up to 90 days if the suspension was indefinite).
One's driver's license may be suspended for failure to pay fines from another traffic ticket or it may be suspended administratively by the DMV. The underlying reason for the suspension is irrelevant to the issue of guilt or innocence of the charge itself, but the underlying reason for suspension certainly factors into the sentencing phase of the case. Without question, a reasonable judge will distinguish between a poor defendant who lacked the funds to pay a fine (leading to suspension) and one who lost the right to drive by accruing excessive DMV demerit points.
As with all criminal offenses, the analysis for defense attorneys is the same. Was there articulable suspicion of criminal activity for the stop itself and did the defendant have knowledge of the suspension. One should note that actual knowledge of the suspension is not always required for a conviction.
Notations on one's DMV transcript/record indicating notice (usually via certified mail from the DMV) are prima facie evidence of "knowledge" of one's suspension. Also, any statements the defendant made to the police officer indicating he knew of the suspension is commonly used to prove knowledge of suspension.
In suspension cases, it is crucial to review the DMV transcript. If the DMV transcript indicates that notice of the suspension was conveyed via notice sent to the addressee (defendant), most good attorneys will secure the signature form of the certified mailing from the DMV to double-check the DMV's bold assertion of fact. Other attorneys simply accept the transcript indication as proof of the knowledge factor. Often, this is an error.
Good attorneys will also check and validate the dates of suspension noted on the DMV transcript. Clerks may have made a mistake in transmitting suspension periods - particularly if the suspension was Court ordered.