Eric J. Dirga, P.A.

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Driving With a Suspended License Statute

Florida Statutes Section 322.34

Information provided by Eric J. Dirga, P.A., Orlando - Statewide Service

Last Updated: June 2, 2016

Knowing what the law says helps you understand what your defenses are and what you actually did to be accused of breaking the law.

Below I have put the entire Florida Statute for the offense of "driving while your license has been suspended or revoked [D.W.L.S.]." To the right are some comments I have made to help you better understand what the law says or my opinion regarding the specific section. I may have also added some case law which is just a cite for my own reference.

Please take the time to review this page, especially if you have questions regarding the statute. This law puts more people in jail in Florida on a daily basis than any other law.

322.34 Driving while license suspended, revoked, canceled, or disqualified.-- My Notes
(1) Except as provided in subsection (2), any person whose driver 's license or driving privilege has been canceled, suspended, or revoked, except a "habitual traffic offender" as defined in s. 322.264, who drives a vehicle upon the highways of this state while such license or privilege is canceled, suspended, or revoked is guilty of a moving violation, punishable as provided in chapter 318. This is the civil infraction for Driving While License Suspended (often abbreviated as DWLS). This is also stated as Driving With A Suspended License Without Knowledge.
(2) Any person whose driver's license or driving privilege has been canceled, suspended, or revoked as provided by law, except persons defined in s. 322.264, who, knowing of such cancellation, suspension, or revocation, drives any motor vehicle upon the highways of this state while such license or privilege is canceled, suspended, or revoked, upon: Here begins the criminal portion of the statute. The citations are written Driving While License Suspended With Knowledge.
(a) A first conviction is guilty of a misdemeanor of the second degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083. Note: DWLS is a cumulative offense meaning the punishments can be incrementally harsher for subsequent charges. A 2nd Degree Misdemeanor is punishable by up 60 days in jail, $500 fine, or 6 months probation.
(b) A second conviction is guilty of a misdemeanor of the first degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083. A first degree misdemeanor is punishable by up to 1-year in jail, $1,000 fine, or 1-year probation.
(c) A third or subsequent conviction is guilty of a felony of the third degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084. Three or more becomes a third degree felony which is punishable by up to 5-years in prison, $5,000 fine, or 5-years probation.
The element of knowledge is satisfied if the person has been previously cited as provided in subsection (1); or the person admits to knowledge of the cancellation, suspension, or revocation; or the person received notice as provided in subsection (4). There shall be a rebuttable presumption that the knowledge requirement is satisfied if a judgment or order as provided in subsection (4) appears in the department's records for any case except for one involving a suspension by the department for failure to pay a traffic fine or for a financial responsibility violation. This is the most important section of the statute and this is where most defenses reside. Knowledge can be presumed under certain circumstances except for one involving a suspension by the department for failure to pay a traffic fine or for a financial responsibility violation.
(3) In any proceeding for a violation of this section, a court may consider evidence, other than that specified in subsection (2), that the person knowingly violated this section. Two things to take from this subsection. First, do not drive without a valid license, and second, do not admit to anything if caught.
(4) Any judgment or order rendered by a court or adjudicatory body or any uniform traffic citation that cancels, suspends, or revokes a person's drivers license must contain a provision notifying the person that his or her driver's license has been canceled, suspended, or revoked.
(5) Any person whose driver's license has been revoked pursuant to s. 322.264 (habitual offender) and who drives any motor vehicle upon the highways of this state while such license is revoked commits a felony of the third degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084. Habitual Traffic Offender portion of statute. Section (10) also deals with HTO.
(6) Any person who operates a motor vehicle:
(a) Without having a driver's license as required under s. 322.03; or
(b) While his or her driver's license or driving privilege is canceled, suspended, or revoked pursuant to s. 316.655, s. 322.26(8), s. 322.27(2), or s. 322.28(2) or (4), Court ordered suspensions and DUI suspensions.
and who by careless or negligent operation of the motor vehicle causes the death of or serious bodily injury to another human being commits a felony of the third degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083.
(7) Any person whose driver's license or driving privilege has been canceled, suspended, revoked, or disqualified and who drives a commercial motor vehicle on the highways of this state while such license or privilege is canceled, suspended, revoked, or disqualified, upon: Commercial Drivers License. See section (11) below.
(a) A first conviction is guilty of a misdemeanor of the first degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083.
(b) A second or subsequent conviction is guilty of a felony of the third degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084.
(8)(a) Upon the arrest of a person for the offense of driving while the person 's driver's license or driving privilege is suspended or revoked, the arresting officer shall determine:
1. Whether the person's drivers license is suspended or revoked.
2. Whether the person's drivers license has remained suspended or revoked since a conviction for the offense of driving with a suspended or revoked license.
3. Whether the suspension or revocation was made under s. 316.646 or s. 627.733, relating to failure to maintain required security, or under s. 322.264, relating to habitual traffic offenders.
4. Whether the driver is the registered owner or co-owner of the vehicle.
(b) If the arresting officer finds in the affirmative as to all of the criteria in paragraph (a), the officer shall immediately impound or immobilize the vehicle. Required impoundment of vehicle.
(c) Within 7 business days after the date the arresting agency impounds or immobilizes the vehicle, either the arresting agency or the towing service, whichever is in possession of the vehicle, shall send notice by certified mail to any co-registered owners of the vehicle other than the person arrested and to each person of record claiming a lien against the vehicle. All costs and fees for the impoundment or immobilization, including the cost of notification, must be paid by the owner of the vehicle or, if the vehicle is leased, by the person leasing the vehicle.
(d) Either the arresting agency or the towing service, whichever is in possession of the vehicle, shall determine whether any vehicle impounded or immobilized under this section has been leased or rented or if there are any persons of record with a lien upon the vehicle. Either the arresting agency or the towing service, whichever is in possession of the vehicle, shall notify by express courier service with receipt or certified mail within 7 business days after the date of the immobilization or impoundment of the vehicle, the registered owner and all persons having a recorded lien against the vehicle that the vehicle has been impounded or immobilized. A lessor, rental car company, or lienholder may then obtain the vehicle, upon payment of any lawful towing or storage charges. If the vehicle is a rental vehicle subject to a written contract, the charges may be separately charged to the renter, in addition to the rental rate, along with other separate fees, charges, and recoupments disclosed on the rental agreement. If the storage facility fails to provide timely notice to a lessor, rental car company, or lienholder as required by this paragraph, the storage facility shall be responsible for payment of any towing or storage charges necessary to release the vehicle to a lessor, rental car company, or lienholder that accrue after the notice period, which charges may then be assessed against the driver of the vehicle if the vehicle was lawfully impounded or immobilized.
(e) Except as provided in paragraph (d), the vehicle shall remain impounded or immobilized for any period imposed by the court until: Duration of vehicle impoundment.
1. The owner presents proof of insurance to the arresting agency; or
2. The owner presents proof of sale of the vehicle to the arresting agency and the buyer presents proof of insurance to the arresting agency.
If proof is not presented within 35 days after the impoundment or immobilization, a lien shall be placed upon such vehicle pursuant to s. 713.78.
(f) The owner of a vehicle that is impounded or immobilized under this subsection may, within 10 days after the date the owner has knowledge of the location of the vehicle, file a complaint in the county in which the owner resides to determine whether the vehicle was wrongfully taken or withheld. Upon the filing of a complaint, the owner or lienholder may have the vehicle released by posting with the court a bond or other adequate security equal to the amount of the costs and fees for impoundment or immobilization, including towing or storage, to ensure the payment of such costs and fees if the owner or lienholder does not prevail. When the vehicle owner or lienholder does not prevail on a complaint that the vehicle was wrongfully taken or withheld, he or she must pay the accrued charges for the immobilization or impoundment, including any towing and storage charges assessed against the vehicle. When the bond is posted and the fee is paid as set forth in s. 28.24, the clerk of the court shall issue a certificate releasing the vehicle. At the time of release, after reasonable inspection, the owner must give a receipt to the towing or storage company indicating any loss or damage to the vehicle or to the contents of the vehicle. Payment of impoundment fees. Note: does not address specifically what happens if driver prevails on his or her complaint.
(9)(a) A motor vehicle that is driven by a person under the influence of alcohol or drugs in violation of s. 316.193 is subject to seizure and forfeiture under ss. 932.701-932.706 and is subject to liens for recovering, towing, or storing vehicles under s. 713.78 if, at the time of the offense, the person's drivers license is suspended, revoked, or canceled as a result of a prior conviction for driving under the influence. Subsequent DUI offense during a DUI suspension subjects vehicle to government seizure.
(b) The law enforcement officer shall notify the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles of any impoundment or seizure for violation of paragraph (a) in accordance with procedures established by the department.
(c) Notwithstanding s. 932.703(1)(c) or s. 932.7055, when the seizing agency obtains a final judgment granting forfeiture of the motor vehicle under this section, 30 percent of the net proceeds from the sale of the motor vehicle shall be retained by the seizing law enforcement agency and 70 percent shall be deposited in the General Revenue Fund for use by regional workforce boards in providing transportation services for participants of the welfare transition program. In a forfeiture proceeding under this section, the court may consider the extent that the family of the owner has other public or private means of transportation. Where proceeds from sale of seized vehicle shall be dispersed. Note that law enforcement agency makes 30%.
(10)(a) Notwithstanding any other provision of this section, if a person does not have a prior forcible felony conviction as defined in s. 776.08, the penalties provided in paragraph (b) apply if a person's drivers license or driving privilege is canceled, suspended, or revoked for: This allows for a Habitual Traffic Offender to be charged with a misdemeanor for driving while license suspended.
1. Failing to pay child support as provided in s. 322.245 or s. 61.13016;
2. Failing to pay any other financial obligation as provided in s. 322.245 other than those specified in s. 322.245(1);
3. Failing to comply with a civil penalty required in s. 318.15;
4. Failing to maintain vehicular financial responsibility as required by chapter 324;
5. Failing to comply with attendance or other requirements for minors as set forth in s. 322.091; or
6. Having been designated a habitual traffic offender under s. 322.264(1)(d) as a result of suspensions of his or her driver's license or driver privilege for any underlying violation listed in subparagraphs 1.-5.
(b)1. Upon a first conviction for knowingly driving while his or her license is suspended, revoked, or canceled for any of the underlying violations listed in subparagraphs (a)1.-6., a person commits a misdemeanor of the second degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083. Note, this drops someone designated as a Habitual Traffic Offender down to a 2nd Degree Misdemeanor.
2. Upon a second or subsequent conviction for the same offense of knowingly driving while his or her license is suspended, revoked, or canceled for any of the underlying violations listed in subparagraphs (a)1.-6., a person commits a misdemeanor of the first degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083.
(11)(a) Any person who does not hold a commercial driver’s license and who is cited for an offense of knowingly driving while his or her license is suspended, revoked, or canceled for any of the underlying violations listed in paragraph (10)(a) may, in lieu of payment of fine or court appearance, elect to enter a plea of nolo contendere and provide proof of compliance to the clerk of the court, designated official, or authorized operator of a traffic violations bureau. In such case, adjudication shall be withheld; however, no election shall be made under this subsection if such person has made an election under this subsection in the preceding 12 months. No person may make more than three elections under this subsection. This section is extremely important to people with Commercial Driver's Licenses.
(b) If adjudication is withheld under paragraph (a), such action is not a conviction. However, look at section 322.61, Florida Statutes, and the consequences for tickets given to Commercial Drivers.
History.--s. 46, ch. 19551, 1939; CGL 1940 Supp. 8135(60); s. 46, ch. 20451, 1941; s. 7, ch. 22858, 1945; s. 1, ch. s. 59-3; s. 214, ch. 71-136; s. 7, ch. 72-175; s. 4, ch. 76-153; s. 69, ch. 88-381; s. 23, ch. 89-282; s. 85, ch. 94-306; s. 941, ch. 95-148; s. 1, ch. 95-202; s. 1, ch. 95-278; s. 40, ch. 97-300; s. 12, ch. 98-223; s. 10, ch. 98-324; s. 108, ch. 99-13; s. 1, ch. 99-234; s. 46, ch. 99-248; s. 85, ch. 2000-165; s. 64, ch. 2008-4; s. 1, ch. 2008-53; s. 5, ch. 2009-206; s. 4, ch. 2010-107; s. 39, ch. 2010-223; s. 5, ch. 2014-225. Lists amendments to the statute by section, chapter, and Law Of Florida year-number.


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