In Florida, driving with your license suspended is a criminal offense. While getting behind the wheel under these circumstances, such behavior can attract severe consequences, such as fines, extended suspension timelines, and even jail time.
Once you get caught driving with a suspended Florida driver’s license, there are several legal recourses that you can take with the help of an experienced criminal defense attorney.
In this guide, you will learn the following:
- Why your license might get suspended.
- The various driving-related and non-driving-related causes of license suspension.
- The consequences of driving with a suspended driver’s license.
- The defenses and legal options that can lead to reinstatement.
The Difference Between a Driving License Suspension and Revocation in Florida
The main variance between a driving license suspension and revocation lies in how long your driving privileges are withheld.
While a suspension means that you cannot validly use your license for some time (depending on the nature of the offense), a revocation means that your license has been invalidated permanently until the revocation period expires.
A suspension can be reinstated, while a revocation cannot.
For a revoked license to be reinstated, the driver can apply for full reinstatement by paying reinstatement and licensing fees. The process might also require them to fulfil other clearance requirements.
Note: Checking your driving record online will reveal the status of your license.
Reasons Why Your Florida License Might Be Suspended
Based on Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles Highway Safety (DHSMV) guidelines, a traffic court can suspend your driver’s license for a number of reasons.
Most of these causes are related to your driving abilities, although you can also have your license suspended for non-driving-related charges. We list the leading causes of suspension below.
- A DUI charge or conviction
- Failure to pay child support (or falling behind in child support payments)
- Unpaid traffic tickets
- Failure to obey court summons
- Traffic point suspensions
- Lack of car insurance
- Drug-related convictions
- Too many traffic violations
Since driving in Florida is a privilege, the traffic court might suspend your license even when you haven’t committed a traffic offense.
Rather than accumulating more legal penalties, it is critical to work with an experienced Florida criminal defense lawyer so that they can explain available options for having your suspension lifted.
Penalties for Operating With a Suspended Driver’s License in Florida
Driving when your license is suspended is a criminal offense that can attract significant legal penalties. A suspension automatically means that you cannot legally drive, so taking such a risk would have dire consequences.
Florida state law is particularly stringent on drivers who have prior knowledge that their license has been suspended but still ignore the state’s decision on the matter. Such an offense can elevate an infraction into a misdemeanor and even land you in jail.
The following are the consequences of driving with a suspended driver’s license in Florida.
- Legal penalties: A first-time offense attracts a $500 fine and up to 60 days in jail (second-degree misdemeanor). Subsequent ‘No Valid Driver’s License’ offenses can attract more severe penalties, such as heftier fines and increased jail time.
- Extended suspension: Expended suspension time is another potential consequence. The nature of the extension will depend on the number of subsequent offenses and reasons for the initial suspension.
- Vehicle impoundment: First-time offenders can see their motor vehicles impounded for up to 10 days. Subsequent offenses can attract a 30-day vehicle impoundment period.
- More points on your driving record: Driving without a license in Florida could also add more points to your driving record, leading to extended suspension periods.
- Higher insurance premiums: Insurance companies see drivers who have had their licenses suspended as high risk. Once your driving history shows evidence of a past driver’s license suspension, you might find it challenging to find a finding reasonably priced car insurer.
Defenses and Legal Options
If you have had your Florida driver’s license suspended, you can pursue a number of legal defenses and options with the help of a criminal defense lawyer.
The following are the main legal recourses.
- Challenging the validity of a traffic stop: If you have concerns about the legality of your suspension, you can request a hearing with the DHSMV and present your case. A successful hearing can lead to a rescinding of your suspension or a reduction of the suspension period.
- Applying for a hardship license: A hardship license is a special license that you can be awarded based on necessity. These licenses enable people to travel to and from important locations, such as school or work, although the evidence of need must be presented.
- Correcting underlying issues: You can also work towards reinstatement by paying child support, honoring court summons, or fixing any other issue that led to the suspension.
Contact a Suspended Florida License Lawyer for Assistance
As shown in this guide, your Florida driver’s license can be suspended for several reasons. These causes can be driving-related or non-driving-related.
Depending on the nature of your case, there you can seek reinstatement by working with a Florida criminal defense attorney. An experienced lawyer will help you collect evidence for your case, build a defense strategy, and negotiate with the DHSMV on your behalf.
Contact Meltzer & Bell, P.A. today for a free case evaluation. Our team of attorneys focuses on criminal defense and serves the West Palm Beach, Fort Lauderdale, Stuart, and Miami areas.
Frequently Asked Questions About Driving with a Suspended Driver’s License in Florida
How long will my driver’s license be suspended in Florida?
Your license might be suspended for 6 to 12 months for a first-time offense. Second offenses can attract a five-year suspension, while a third offense can lead to a 10-year suspension.
Can I get car insurance if my Florida driver’s license has been suspended?
Yes, you can. However, license suspensions go into your driving history and insurers might charge you higher premiums since they view you as high-risk.
Can I renew a suspended driver’s license in Florida?
Yes. However, you must first get your license reinstated by satisfying court requirements.