A Jacksonville police officer just pulled you over. Why? Well, maybe you have a broken brake light, tag light, or another minor traffic infraction. You hand over your license, registration and insurance card as requested.
The officer runs your license, then asks “did you know your license is suspended?”
Your answer could mean the difference between a civil traffic infraction (moving violation)—essentially a traffic ticket with some teeth—or a criminal traffic charge (misdemeanor or felony depending on whether driver is first time offender or repeat offender) that could mean jail time, enhanced penalties, and even prison if driver is a habitual traffic offender (3 or more serious infractions and up to a 5-year loss of your driving privilege.
KNOWINGLY Driving With a Suspended License Has Serious Consequences
If the officer believes you knowingly drove with a suspended license, it might not go well for you.
What are the consequences of driving with a suspended license in Florida? You will be arrested or given a notice to appear (written arrest);
- First Conviction: Up to $500 fine and up to 60 days in jail
- Second Conviction: Up to $1,000 fine and up to a year in jail
- Third Conviction: Up to $5,000 fine and up to 5 years in prison
By the time you get to your third conviction, the State considers you a habitual offender. Even if you don’t get prison time, you could lose your driving privilege for 5 years.
Now, take notice on the statement “the officer believes you knowingly…” At the officer’s discretion, they can issue a criminal citation regardless if you told them you did not know your license was suspended.
Since this traffic stop could lead to a criminal conviction that lasts a lifetime-with a lot at stake-your best course of action is to remain silent and speak with an attorney like me who is experienced in traffic law.
Without your acknowledgment, it’s up to the State (prosecutor) to prove you knew that your license was suspended while you were driving.
So, our first “Do Not” is don’t say anything that could incriminate you.
Our first “To Do” is CALL ME at (904) 567-3113 so we can help get you through this challenge.
Why Could Your Driver’s License be Suspended?
The State of Florida can suspend your license for a number of reasons, including:
- Failure to pay child support
- Failure to pay (or timely pay) a traffic ticket
- Failure to maintain insurance
- Failure to appear in court or comply with a court order
How to Check if Your License is Suspended
Sometimes, you might not know you’re driving on a suspended license. Possibly you’ve moved and not changed your address on your license. You can check the status of your license at this Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles: https://services.flhsmv.gov/DLCheck/
If You Find that Your License is Suspended
Giving me a call should be a priority “To Do” on your list. Often times we can get your license reinstated if it’s a simple matter. That means calling me before you start fixing the cause of your suspension. Even paying unpaid tickets could create more issues for you if not done properly.
Of course one of the most important “Not to Dos” is don’t drive if you know your license is suspended.
As always, I’m available to answer any questions regarding your rights and driver’s license. Give my office a call at (904) 567-3113.