Driving on a Suspended License (DUI)

Driving on a Suspended License (DUI)

Providing legal defense for suspended license cases in San Diego

If you have been charged with driving on a suspended license, you must know this is not a trivial legal matter. You can face long-term license suspension, fines, and even jail time for this offense, and it’s worse if you have one or more DUIs on your record causing the suspension in the first place. That’s why it’s vital to work with a DUI attorney who can advise you about how to handle the case and help you minimize the consequences that can devastate you or your family.


What Happens If I Drive with a License Suspended Because of a DUI?

The specific punishment for driving on a suspended license (also known as a DWLS) depends on your particular situation. The basic penalties (driving on a suspended license, DUI not part of your record) are:

  • Up to six months in jail
  • Fines of $300 to $1,000 (plus court assessments)
  • Probation for one to three years

However, if your license suspension was due to a DUI, you may face more severe penalties:

  • Up to a year in jail
  • Fines of $300 to $1,000 (plus court assessments)
  • Probation of one to five years
  • Requirement to install an ignition interlock device in your car

Repeat offenders may be charged even higher fees, and the likelihood of maximum jail time increases.

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What Is Vehicle Code 14601.2(a) VC?


This vehicle code section makes driving on a suspended license or revoked license due to a DUI conviction illegal.

What is a suspension?

It means you are told by the California DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles) that you are not permitted to drive a vehicle.


Penalties are stiff for violation of this part of the California Vehicle Code. First offenders may be punished, at minimum, by:

  • Imprisonment in the county jail for 10 days to six months
  • A fine of $300 to $1,000

Habitual traffic offenders may face more severe penalties:

  • Imprisonment in the county jail for 30 days to one year
  • A fine of $500 to $2,000

What Are the Best Defenses to 14601.2(a) VC?

There are a few defenses a DUI lawyer can use if a client is charged with violating Vehicle Code 14601.2(a) VC.

No knowledge of suspension

To be guilty of violating this code, you have to know your license was suspended in the first place and have driven anyway. However, it is presumed that if the DMV suspends a license by mailing a notice, the recipient has knowledge of the suspension. Therefore, it has to be proven that the DMV never mailed the suspension or it was returned to the DMV without the recipient ever seeing it. If you’re not sure “Is my license suspended?” you may wish to consult a DUI attorney.

Not driving

To violate the code, a person also needs to be actually driving a vehicle. If it can be proven that they were merely sitting in the driver’s seat without the engine running, it is possible to defend against this charge.

No prior DUI conviction

Driving on a suspended license specifically in violation of Vehicle Code 14601.2(a) VC is only a crime if the person in question was indeed convicted of a DUI. Without a prior conviction, you would not be in violation of this specific code, although you could still be guilty of driving on a suspended license in general.

Related DUI Crimes

Let’s review some related DUI crimes that may influence your case. Often people driving on a suspended license have more than one charge or conviction simultaneously.

VC 23152 – Driving Under the Influence

This statute pertains to a variety of scenarios involving driving under the influence. It is illegal to:

  • Drive a vehicle under the influence of alcohol
  • Drive a vehicle with 0.08% by weight of alcohol in the blood (or 0.04% if operating a commercial vehicle, including rideshare vehicles)
  • Drive a vehicle while addicted to drugs, unless enrolled in a narcotic treatment program pursuant to Article 3 (commencing with Section 11875) of Chapter 1 of Part 3 of Division 10.5 of the Health and Safety Code

Punishment for this offense depends on the particular situation, such as whether or not someone was hurt in the process, if there were minors in the vehicle, if the driver was speeding, and if the driver is a repeat offender. Penalties may include:

  • Fines
  • Jail or prison time
  • DUI school
  • License suspension or revocation
  • Restitution to injured parties
  • Increased insurance requirements
  • Installation of an ignition interlock device to register alcohol on the breath before the engine can be started

VC 14601(a) – Driving on a Suspended License

This is the vehicle code that forbids driving on a suspended license in general, not related to having been convicted of a DUI. Penalties start with:

  • Up to six months in jail
  • Fines of $300 to $1,000 (plus court assessments)
  • Probation for one to three years

VC 14601.4 – Driving on a Suspended or Revoked License Causing Bodily Injury

Violating this code means you not only drove on a suspended or revoked license but caused bodily injury to someone else in the process. This could include a passenger in your vehicle, another motorist, a bicyclist, or a pedestrian.

The penalty for this is imprisonment and upon release, installation of an ignition interlock device. There may be other charges or penalties involved in this scenario. You could have your license suspended indefinitely in worst-case situations.

How Can I Defend Against a Charge of Driving on a Suspended License Due to Previous DUI?

There are four common defenses we typically use to defend against driving on a suspended license due to a previous DUI:

  1. You were unaware your license was suspended.
  2. Your license was suspended in error.
  3. You corrected the suspension (such as making it only a restriction or installing an ignition interlock device for unlimited driving with the approval of the authorities).
  4. There were mitigating circumstances.

It’s always best to work with an attorney to restore your drivers license eligibility because legal professionals know how to approach the case and can use strategies to minimize penalties to you.

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Ezquerro Is a Dedicated San Diego DUI Lawyer Here to Help You If You Are in Need!

If you or a loved one have been charged with driving on a suspended license, you need to take action. If you are in the San Diego area, reach out to Ezquerro, an experienced DUI lawyer, for assistance. In some cases, we are able to get a suspended license reinstatement, and in others, we reduce the severity of the violation. Call our law offices at +1 619-485-8150 today, or set up a consultation online at your convenience.

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