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What is more important to your daily life than your driver’s license? It allows you to drive to your school, work, medical appointments, social events, and more. In the state of Florida, your license can be suspended for various reasons including failure to pay a traffic fine, failure to attend a court appearance, failure to pay child support, failure to obtain insurance, drug convictions, DUI convictions, breath test refusals, and more.
If your license is suspended, and you drive your vehicle, you could be charged with a misdemeanor or felony crime. Possible consequences include probation or incarceration. In addition, a conviction for DWLS could potential qualify you as a habitual traffic offender, resulting in a five-year license suspension.
Contact Hubbs Law Firm at (305) 570-4802 to discuss your case with our Miami traffic ticket attorneys today. Your initial consultation is free.
What to Do If You Are Charged with DWLS without Knowledge in Florida
If you are charged with driving while license suspended (DWLS) without knowledge, then you most likely do not need to worry about any criminal consequences. Driving while license suspended without knowledge is a civil infraction. The maximum penalty is simply a small fine. However, if you are charged with DWLS, you should not pay the fine. Paying the fine or receiving an adjudication of guilt will result in you getting points on your license.
Even worse, it could result in your license being suspended for five years as a habitual traffic offender if this is your third qualifying offense within a five-year period. A withhold of adjudication or a dismissal is the best way to keep points off your license and to prevent any license suspension. At a trial, the state of Florida would be required to prove that you were driving a vehicle and your license was suspended. They do not need to prove that you knew your license was suspended.
DWLS with Knowledge Defined by Florida Statute §322.34
In contrast, driving while license suspended with knowledge (DWLS) is a criminal offense. If you were arrested or cited for this charge, it is important you contact an experienced criminal defense attorney to have your case evaluated.
The penalties for DWLS with knowledge vary depending upon the facts of the case and your prior record. Generally, a first offense for DWLS with knowledge is a second-degree misdemeanor punishable by up to 60 days in jail and/or a $500 fine.
A second conviction can be classified as a first-degree misdemeanor punishable by up to 364 days in jail and/or a $1,000 fine. Finally, a third or subsequent conviction, or DWLS as a habitual traffic offender, can be classified as a third-degree felony punishable by up to 5 years in prison and a $5,000 fine.
To prove you are guilty of DWLS with knowledge, the State must prove the following:
- You were driving a vehicle
- Your license was suspended, canceled, or revoked
- You had knowledge of the license suspension
Generally, the toughest element for the State to prove is knowledge of the suspension. However, under Florida Statute 322.34, the State can prove this element by proving the following:
- A prior citation was issued for DWLS
- You admitted you had knowledge of the suspension
- You received notice of the suspension pursuant to Florida law
DWLS Causing Habitual Traffic Offender Status
As with DWLS without knowledge, DWLS with knowledge can cause habitual traffic offender status resulting in a five-year license suspension. One key difference, however, is that receiving a withhold of adjudication for DWLS with knowledge will not prevent you from becoming a habitual traffic offender like with DWLS without knowledge.
That’s why it is important to hire an experienced Miami traffic attorney to handle your case. An experienced attorney can possibly get the charges dismissed, reduced to a no valid driver’s license, or reduce the charges to a civil infraction for DWLS without knowledge. Any of these outcomes can protect you from becoming a habitual traffic offender.
Defenses for Driving While License Suspended with Knowledge
There are several of defenses to DWLS with knowledge, including:
- The State cannot prove that you were driving a vehicle
- The State cannot prove you had a license that was suspended, canceled, or revoked
- The State cannot prove that you had knowledge that your license that was suspended, canceled, or revoked
- You are a victim of identity theft and your license was provided to the arresting officer by another person
Find an Attorney for DWLS in Miami, FL
If you were charged with driving while license suspended with or without knowledge, call Hubbs Law Firm today. Our attorneys will evaluate the facts of your case and prior driving record. At the end of the consultation, we’ll be able to inform you of any legal defenses you have to your case, as well as the consequences of a conviction.
Call Hubbs Law Firm today at (305) 570-4802.
E.J. Hubbs is Board Certified in Criminal Trial Law by the Florida Bar. Board-certified attorneys are the only attorneys in Florida that can represent themselves as experts in their respective areas of the law.
Our firm handles all types of traffic cases in Miami-Dade County, Hialeah, Miami Gardens, Miami Beach, Kendall, Doral, Homestead, North Miami, and South Miami, as well as other cities and areas in the Greater Miami Area.
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- Miami-Dade County Criminal and Traffic Clerk of Court- Get information on your criminal/civil traffic record and request a driving record
Attorneys E.J. & Erika Hubbs
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