Driving on a suspended license in Florida is no joke. Whether done accidentally or intentionally, driving while your license is suspended can lead to significant consequences if you’re caught doing so by Florida’s law enforcers. This article will take a deep dive into Florida’s laws against driving with a suspended license and what you need to know if you find yourself facing such a charge in this state.
Florida Statute 322.34 outlines the crime of driving with a suspended license. In a nutshell, driving with a license that is
Is a violation of the statute and subject to criminal penalty.
Intent is important to the severity of driving on a suspended license in Florida, as doing so intentionally is penalized more severely than doing so unintentionally.
Encounter With Law Enforcement
If a Florida law enforcement officer discovers that you are driving with a suspended license, he or she has discretion as to how to proceed. A law enforcement officer may either
Issue a criminal citation and release you, or
Arrest you on the spot.
Typically, if the law enforcement officer has reason to believe that an individual is knowingly and intentionally driving on a suspended license, he or she is more likely to arrest the driver at the scene. However, if the officer believes that the driver was unaware of the license suspension, more often than not the officer will issue a criminal citation and release that individual.
In Florida, the process for prosecuting the crime of driving with a suspended license is as follows
Citation or Arrest – this is the initial contact with law enforcement, which concludes with either the issuance of a citation or a custodial arrest.
Arraignment – the first appearance before a judge, when the defendant is officially notified of the criminal charges against them and when the defendant enters a plea of not guilty, guilty, or nolo contendere.
Pre-trial – this is when the defense requests relevant evidence from the state and files various motions, including suppressing certain evidence and dismissal of the charges.
Plea bargaining – frequently the prosecutor will offer to drop the charges of driving on a suspended license if the defendant agrees to plead guilty to a lesser offense or for a less severe sentence.
Trial – the prosecution presents its case to the court and the defense attempts to introduce the existence of a reasonable doubt about the commission of the crime.
Sentence – if the defendant is found to be guilty, the court imposes penalty.
In Florida, if an individual has been found guilty of driving with a suspended license three times in five years, the state will classify that individual as a Habitual Traffic Offender. Such a classification is penalized by a license revocation for five years and potentially may lead to a jail sentence.
If found guilty of driving on a suspended license in Florida, the penalties are as follows
First offense – second degree misdemeanor, punishable by up to 60 days in jail and a fine of up to $500
Second offense – first degree misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $1,000
Third offense – third degree felony, punishable by up to five years in prison, five years of probation, and a fine of up to $5,000.