Suspended License Attorneys in St. Petersburg
Driving While License Suspended (DWLS)
It is a criminal offense to knowingly operate a motor vehicle with a suspended driver’s license. If you have a suspended driver’s license, contact an attorney familiar with Pinellas County right away to see about getting the suspension lifted. If you have already received a citation for driving while your license was suspended, there are still ways to mitigate the damage.
Melinda Morris is a former Pinellas County assistant district attorney. Due to her experience as a prosecutor, she has inside knowledge on how prosecutors build their cases in Pinellas County. By hiring the attorney at the Morris Law Firm, P.A., you are getting an experienced and knowledgeable attorney.
Contact Morris Law Firm, P.A. at (727) 592-5885 for a consultation about your driving while license suspended case.
Driving While License Suspended Laws
The driving while license suspended law is found in Florida statute 322.34. There are actually two parts to the statute:
Driving While License Suspended
- Under Florida law, the individual whose driver’s license or driving privilege has been revoked (yet continues to drive without a valid license) is guilty of driving while their license is suspended. Under this section, the person does not have knowledge that their license has been revoked.
Knowingly Driving While License Suspended
- Under Florida law, if someone knowingly continues to drive without a valid license, that person is guilty of driving while their license is suspended.
The court will deem that a person had knowledge of the driver’s license suspension if the prosecutors can prove:
- The defendant admitted that they knew the license was suspended.
- The defendant received notice that the license was suspended.
- The court records show that the license would be suspended as a consequence of the defendant’s failure to take care of an unrelated traffic offense.
The penalties are slightly different if you knowingly drove with a suspended license than if you didn’t know your license was suspended.
Penalties for Driving While License Suspended
Usually, the punishments for driving with a suspended license stay in the misdemeanor category, but repeated violations can rise to felony level punishments.
First conviction for driving while license suspended:
- Second-degree misdemeanor punishable by a jail sentence of not more than 60 days.
Second conviction for driving while license suspended:
- First-degree misdemeanor punishable by a jail sentence of not more than one year.
Third conviction for driving while license suspended:
- Third-degree felony punishable by a jail sentence not to exceed 5 years if previously convicted of a forcible felony.
- If there is no prior conviction of a forcible felony, then the third offense is also a first-degree misdemeanor punishable by not more than one year in jail.
Why Was My License Suspended?
There are many different kinds of traffic violations that can result in your license being suspended. It is important to collect any citations you have received and bring them to an experienced attorney. Only a criminal defense attorney can go over your criminal history and determine why your license was suspended.
In general, your license can be suspended for the following reasons:
- A court order revoking your license due to outstanding traffic offenses
- A conviction for vehicular manslaughter
- A conviction for possessing a controlled substance
- A conviction for prostitution involving a car
- A failed driving test
- Medical conditions such as seizures that are not controlled enough to enable you to safely drive a car
- A perjury conviction in civil court
- A conviction for fleeing the scene after a car accident that resulted either in injury or death
A criminal defense attorney may help you resolve the underlining cause for your license suspension. In most cases, if you can take care of the conviction or pay the fine, the license can be reinstated. You must talk to an attorney who is familiar with the legal system in Pinellas County. Once you tell an attorney the facts of your case, then you can work on coming up with a solution to your driving while license suspended allegation.
The Morris Law Firm, P.A. is committed to representing persons who are faced with driving while license suspended charges. If you are accused of driving while your license is suspended in Pinellas County or St. Petersburg, contact the Morris Law Firm, P.A. to talk with an experienced attorney. Our goal is to protect your constitutional rights and defend your case to obtain the lowest possible punishments.
No Valid Driver’s License
A “no valid driver’s license” charge does not count towards an alleged offender being classified as a Habitual Traffic Offender (HTO), and many people are issued citations or notices to appear instead of actually being arrested. While “no valid driver’s license” may not seem as serious as driving with a license that was revoked, suspended, or canceled, this a criminal offense and a conviction can carry long-term penalties.
In addition to having the charge reflected on your criminal record, subsequent “driving without a valid license” violations involve stiffer penalties. As a misdemeanor offense, a conviction for driving without a valid license is also punishable by possible jail time and significant fines.
No Valid Driver’s License Charges
Florida Statute § 322.03 explicitly states that a person cannot drive any motor vehicle upon a highway in Florida unless they have a valid driver license issued in accordance with state law. A driver’s license is defined under Florida Statute § 322.01(17) as “a certificate that, subject to all other requirements of law, authorizes an individual to drive a motor vehicle and denotes an operator’s license as defined in” Title 49 U.S. Code § 30301. A “motor vehicle operator’s license” is defined under that federal law as “a license issued by a State authorizing an individual to operate a motor vehicle on public streets, roads, or highways.”
Chapter 28.9 of the Florida Standard Jury Instructions further defines a valid driver’s license as meaning a driver’s license recognized by the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles which has not expired or been suspended, revoked, or canceled.
Those terms are defined as follows:
- Expired — The license was not renewed on or before the expiration date.
- Suspended — The privilege to drive a motor vehicle has been temporarily withdrawn.
- Revoked — The privilege to drive a motor vehicle has been terminated.
- Canceled — The license has been declared void and terminated.
Certain classes of people are not required to obtain a valid driver’s license in Florida. Under Florida Statute § 322.04, the following people are exempt from obtaining a driver license:
- Any employee of the United States Government, while operating a noncommercial motor vehicle owned by or leased to the United States Government and being operated on official business;
- Any person while driving or operating any road machine, farm tractor, or implement of husbandry temporarily operated or moved on a highway;
- A nonresident who is at least 16 years of age and who has in his or her immediate possession a valid noncommercial driver license issued to the nonresident in his or her home state or country operating a motor vehicle of the type for which a Class E driver license is required in this state;
- A nonresident who is at least 18 years of age and who has in his or her immediate possession a valid noncommercial driver license issued to the nonresident in his or her home state or country operating a motor vehicle, other than a commercial motor vehicle, in this state; and
- Any person operating a golf cart which is operated in accordance with the provisions of Florida Statute § 316.212.
No Valid Driver’s License Penalties
In order to convict an alleged offender of the crime of “no valid driver’s license,” the state must prove the following two elements beyond a reasonable doubt:
- The alleged offender drove a motor vehicle upon a highway in this state; and
- At the time, the alleged offender did not have a valid driver’s license recognized by the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles of the State of Florida.
“No valid driver’s license” is classified as a second-degree misdemeanor offense, which means a conviction is punishable by up to 60 days in jail and/or a fine of up to $500. A subsequent offense is usually charged as driving while license suspended, revoked, canceled, or disqualified (commonly abbreviated as DWLS or DWLSR) with knowledge.
A first “driving while license suspended, revoked, canceled, or disqualified” charge is also a second-degree misdemeanor offense, but the next conviction would be a first-degree misdemeanor, and any subsequent conviction is a third-degree felony. Furthermore, DWLS/DWLSR offenses count towards HTO status that can lead to a five-year revocation of driving privileges.
Florida No Valid Driver’s License Resources
Service Centers in Pinellas County | Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV) — Visit this website to learn more about the locations and services offered by FLHSMV offices in Pinellas County. You can find service centers that offer Driver License (DL) and Motor Vehicle (MV) services as well as the Bureau for Administrative Reviews, Florida Highway Patrol Stations, and the Clerk of the Court Office.
St. Petersburg has two locations, although road tests and knowledge exams are offered at the following location:
St. Petersburg FLHSMV
1067 62nd Ave. S.
St. Petersburg, FL 33705
Driver License Check | FLHSMV — On this website, you can check to see if your driver’s license is valid. Simply enter your driver’s license number and enter the electronic code on the screen. A parent can also enter the last four digits of their child’s Social Security Number and their date of birth to view that child’s driving history.
Contact Our Lawyers
We defend clients throughout the St. Petersburg area. We can provide a complete evaluation of your case when you call (727) 592-5885 or fill out an online contact form to take advantage of a free initial consultation.
FORMER STATE PROSECUTOR
Melinda Morris is a former prosecutor and has handled thousands of criminal cases from investigation through sentencing enabling us to identify weaknesses in the State’s case against you.
We never settle for the easiest outcome or the typical result. We know how to negotiate with the State Attorney and we will work to get you the best possible outcome.
TRUSTED & EXPERIENCED
Melinda Morris has practiced criminal law for over 20 years. Our clients trust advice that comes from experience in nearly every type of criminal case.
We will know every client’s story because we will take the time to listen and understand. You will work with your attorney one-on-one at every stage of the process.
You will have the cell phone number of your attorney. Your attorney will directly return your call, email, or text to answer your pressing questions.
SAME DAY REPRESENTATION
The government is wasting no time in trying to prove your guilt, a proactive defense is imperative. Prompt and decisive action from your defense attorney is of critical importance.