Driving on a suspended license is a serious offense in California that can result in fines and even jail time. But believe it or not, many people are caught driving on a suspended license and argue they didn’t know about the suspension. To make sure you aren’t caught unaware, you should learn about how license suspensions are handled in California and how to figure out if your license is suspended.
Who Suspends Licenses?
Typically, the California Department of Motor Vehicles handles the suspension of licenses. The DMV can suspend your license for many reasons such as a DUI arrest, a failure to pay a fine, or for accumulating too many driving points on your record. The criminal court can also order a license suspension, in which case the court notifies the DMV. The DMV, however, is the authoritative body that handles the driving privileges of Californians.
Notice from the DMV
If the DMV suspends your license, you should have been notified by mail. In fact, your knowledge of the suspension is presumed if the DMV sent you notice and didn’t receive the notice back as undeliverable or sent to the wrong address. The process of returning mail can take some time, however, so it’s possible for your license suspension to go into effect before you receive notice and before the DMV receives the returned letter.
Notice from the Court
If you were arrested for a DUI, the officer who confiscated your license should have given you a pink piece of paper that serves as a temporary license but also as a notice to you that your license suspension will go into effect in 30 days. If for some reason the officer does not provide you this slip, the DMV will still be notified of the DUI arrest.
Under the admin per se law, the DMV can automatically suspend your license for a DUI arrest before the criminal court convicts you. The DMV will also mail you notice of the suspension. But don’t wait around for that notice to come. Assume if you are arrested for a DUI, your license will be suspended 30 days from the date of your arrest. If you want to get a stay of your suspension, speak with an attorney about requesting an administrative hearing.
If the court suspends your license, you will also be notified in court the day of your sentencing. You will be asked to sign some papers once you are sentenced, and the license suspension information can be found therein.
When No Notice Is Given
If you never received notice from the DMV or the court, you can still take steps to find out if your license has been suspended. You can start with calling the DMV. If they won’t tell you over the phone, you can request a copy of your driving record. You can do this online, in person, or by mail for a small fee. The DMV will have the most up to date information regarding your license, including any suspensions issued by the criminal court.
You should know that you have to take steps to reinstate your license after a license suspension, which usually involves a paying the DMV a fee. Without official reinstatement, your license remains suspended, and you could face adverse action if you are caught driving. To avoid this, you need to ask the DMV to reinstate your license, and you will need to pay a reinstatement fee.
If you think your license might be suspended but don’t know why you should immediately contact the DMV to get the full story. And, if you are caught driving on a suspended license but weren’t aware of the suspension, you should contact an experienced California driving crime defense attorney. An attorney can help you quickly determine why your license is suspended and help you defend yourself against the charges.
If you are facing charges for driving without a license, call experienced Visalia area criminal defense attorney Christopher Martens today for expert counsel. At The Law Offices of Christopher Martens, we can help you build a strategic defense to fight your charges. Attorney Martens has practiced criminal defense for over ten years and knows how to defend your rights. Contact our Visalia or Hanford offices at 559-967-7386 or email us at MartensLaw@gmail.com to discuss a possible plan of action for your case.