Driving on a Suspended License

Suspended license cases are typically prosecuted under three Vehicle Code sections: 14601.1(a), 14601.2(a), and 14601.5(a). The application of the three sections depends on the reason for the license suspension. The most commonly seen of the three subsections is 14601.1(a), which applies when a person’s driving privilege is suspended or revoked for any reason other than those listed in “14601.2…or 14601.5”. In other words, 14601.1(a) typically applies when the other sections do not. 14601.1(a) will often be charged when the person’s license is suspended for such reasons as failure to appear for a court date, or failure to pay child support. Vehicle Code section 14601.2(a) is typically charged when a person’s license has been suspended for a drunk driving conviction. Unlike the other two sections, a  first-time conviction for a violation of 14601.2(a) carries a 10 day minimum jail sentence. The last section, 14601.5(a), applies when the individual’s license has been administratively suspended by the DMV following a DUI arrest, or when an individual has his or her license suspended for failing to take the required chemical test at the police station following a DUI arrest under California’s Implied Consent law. With all three sections, the individual arrested must be shown to have had knowledge of the suspension at the time of driving in order for the charge to apply. In certain instances, the prosecution will allow the defendant to enter a conditional plea. In a conditional plea, the defendant pleas to the charged section, and sentencing is put over for a certain amount of time to allow the defendant to obtain his or her license in the interim. If the individual obtains his or her license in the given time and does not pick up any new cases, they will be allowed to withdraw their plea and be sentenced on a lesser charge, often with more favorable probationary terms. 

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