Eric J. Dirga, P.A.

A Florida Trial Attorney

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Florida Suspended Driver's License FAQs

Driver's License Questions and Answers

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

Last Updated: June 2, 2016

If your driver's license has been suspended it is critical to try and overturn the suspension. There are many ways to do this and some situations cannot be fixed. Having a valid license or a hardship license is a necessity today. Don't risk being caught driving without one.

1. How To Fix Your Suspended Drivers License?

This is a long one (explanation) so get ready - or just skip to number 2.

UNPAID TICKETS:

Easily the biggest culprit is the forgotten ticket. A traffic ticket must either be paid or you must notify the Clerk of Court of an election to either take a driving school or request a hearing within 30 days of the issuance of the ticket. On day 31, if none have occurred, the Clerk will notify the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles [DMV] that you have failed to pay. The Clerk will also add a late fee (typically $23). When the DMV gets word you are late they will send you a letter notifying you that your driver's license will be suspended on a future date (usually about 2-weeks from the date of the notice).

NOTE:

Despite the 180 days to request a hearing many clerks seem to think this only applies to lawyers. If you cannot just pay the late fee and get a hearing call a lawyer and get it handled.

THE SOLUTION: There are a couple solutions that you have when you receive a letter from the DMV. The 30-day time limit really only applies to electing a traffic school. You actually have 180 days to ask for a hearing. The pending suspension can be avoided by paying the late fee and 1) electing a hearing, or 2) paying the fine. I suggest you never just pay the fine. Paying the fine means points; points means suspensions; suspensions mean jail if caught driving.

AUTOMOBILE INSURANCE COVERAGE:

The DMV suspends licenses on anyone that is not covered by automobile insurance. This commonly happens in two ways (although there are more).

First, when a person changes insurance carriers - the old insurer notifies the DMV that they no longer cover that driver but the new insurer fails to notify the DMV of the new coverage for the driver. This mix up happens quite often and can cause a huge headache for someone charged with the criminal offense of driving with a suspended license.

The second way this happens is when a person sells their car, drops the insurance coverage on the car, but fails to turn in the license plate.

Of course, you can receive this suspension also by just not paying your insurance. One important thing you need to know. The DMV does not warn you of a pending suspension when your drivers license is suspended for no insurance. The suspension is immediate and the letter that arrives lets you know how long it has been suspended.

THE SOLUTION: Either get insurance, get your insurance carrier to notify the DMV of the mix-up, or turn in your tag. Whenever you sell a vehicle you should always keep the tag and fill out a bill of sale. The DMV provides a bill of sale for cars on there website.

POINTS

There are only two ways to get points on your license after you receive a traffic ticket for a moving violation. The first is to just pay the ticket. The second way would be to elect a hearing and have a Hearing Officer or Judge order that you receive points. (Please review my other pages on How Many Points Per Ticket and the The Length of Point Suspensions.

THE SOLUTION: First, never just pay a moving violation. That is one of the three options you should always avoid. The other two are viable. Either elect a driving school or elect a hearing. If you decide to elect a hearing you should hire a lawyer. Hiring a lawyer is simple and inexpensive.

HABITUAL TRAFFIC OFFENDER

MULTIPLE TICKETS FOR DRIVING WITH A SUSPENDED LICENSE:This is very serious. This is also the reason why a driver should always consult with an attorney whenever they receive a traffic ticket for Driving With A Suspended Drivers License [DWLS]. There are two types of DWLS tickets. The first is when the allegation is that you were driving "without" any knowledge that your license had been suspended. The second is with the allegation that you were "with" knowledge of the suspension.

WITHOUT KNOWLEDGE

Driving With A Suspended Drivers License Without Knowledge tickets are civil citations similar to your common speeding tickets. There is a fine to pay and options. We advise everyone to NEVER just pay these tickets (see Question 4 below regarding Habitual Traffic Offenders). If you just pay this ticket you may have your license suspended for 5 years by the DMV - call us, we can help - and because it is just a civil citation the legal fee is inexpensive ($99).

WITH KNOWLEDGE

An allegation that you were Driving With A Suspended Drivers License With Knowledge is a criminal traffic offense. Anytime a person is charged with a criminal offense for DWLS they should consult with an attorney. Like the civil infraction, these count towards a 5-year license suspension under the Habitual Traffic Law.

CRIMINAL OFFENSE SANCTION

For many offenses, regardless of whether they involved driving or a motor vehicle, the law requires that a person's driving privilege be suspended. The classic example is when someone is charged with DUI. The less common example is when someone is charged with theft or possession of cannabis/marijuana. These are also very serious because they may also become a violation of probation or of a court order.


2. Is there an easy way to fix my suspended driver's license?

It would be great to say yes, there is, and I have tried to make it simple for people. The problem is that it would take me half the day to explain what you need to do. Afterwards my efforts would be defeated because you would have to deal with either a representative of the Clerk's Office or the Department of Motor Vehicles who, despite not knowing the law, would advise you incorrectly. The easiest way is to hire a lawyer.


3. Are there defenses to the criminal charge of Driving On A Suspended Drivers License?

Yes, but they are all lawyer secrets. That means no lawyer has the time to teach you to be your own lawyer. Hire a traffic lawyer or accept the services of a public defender.

Remember that you should never admit (confess) to allegations of illegal conduct. We all have the right to remain silent when we are accused of a crime. This is the same if the police ask if you knew your driver's license was suspended. Keep that right in mind and the defenses to driving on a suspended license remain numerous.


4. You received a letter from the DMV saying your drivers license has been revoked for five-years. Can you change this?

Yes and no. The Yes is that it can be changed, the No is that it is pretty unlikely you can do this on your own. The good news is that I know how to change this.

This is what the law refers to as a Habitual Traffic Offender designation. It carries a five year suspension and for the first year you are ineligible for a restricted (Business Purposes) license. This means for 365 days you will have to find alternative means of getting around other than driving a motor vehicle.


5. So if I get this letter you can help me?

Yes! There may be an opportunity to go back and correct one or more of the problems that are causing the 5-year suspension. The Florida Statutes and the Florida Rules of Traffic Court do provide some hope. Please contact us to discuss this with you. If you received a 5 year driving suspension letter from DMV, please call me immediately.


6. Can I just plea to the charge of driving on a suspended driver's license without the expense of an attorney?

Absolutely! Many successful people got their start without being able to drive. I just can't seem to remember any to list here - but I am sure there are many.

Seriously, get an attorney that knows about this area of the law. As your attorney, I try to make sure you are not harmed by this charge. If it's beatable I will beat it. If it is defendable I will do everything to make sure you get out of this situation with a valid drivers license and back to your life. No guarantees but better than just pleading guilty and regretting it later.



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