Driving While License Suspended (DWLS):
• Civil Infraction • Misdemeanor (MM) DWLS Criminal Offense • Felony DWLS • Driving while license suspended
Driving While License Suspended (DWLS) is one of the minor misdemeanor traffic offenses that are taken very seriously by the legislature and judges in Florida. A first time DWLS is a 2nd degree misdemeanor, a second offense is a 1st degree misdemeanor, and a 3rd or subsequent one is a 3rd degree felony. Many judges in Central Florida impose at least 30 days in jail for a first time misdemeanor DWLS. This offense should not be taken lightly.
*MY ADVICE: Do not drive with a suspended license, and especially if it was suspended as the result of a DUI.
Orlando and Kissimmee Criminal Lawyer Don Waggoner is very experienced in representing persons accused of DWLS. He has been successful at getting habitualized offenders their license back and getting a DWLS reduced to a lesser offense and, thereby, avoiding any jail time. In other words, he has been successful at helping people get their licenses back and getting them back on the road legally. If you are charged with a DWLS, even if it is a non-criminal infraction, let him see if he can help you keep your license or get it back.
There are several types of DWLS offenses:
1. Civil Infraction - happens when your license is suspended and you had no legal knowledge of it. This happens when the license is suspended by the DHSMV and you are stopped within 20 days of this suspension taking effect. It is call DWLS with No Knowledge. When your license is suspended, the DHSMV is required to give you notice. The knowledge that your license is suspended is presumed after 20 days.
A civil infraction is punishable by a fine only. If convicted, it puts 3 points on your license. Three (3) of these convictions can get your license suspended for 5 years. If the infraction is for DWLS without (w/o) knowledge, and you get a withhold of adjudication on it, it does not count towards Habitualization and a 5 year suspension. There is a way to avoid the conviction and the 5 year suspension. Do not just pay this ticket. Ask for a hearing. See an attorney. If you do that, in many cases you can avoid a conviction and a license suspension.
2. Misdemeanor (MM) DWLS Criminal Offense - a first offense is a 2nd degree MM. It is punishable by up to 60 days in jail and a $500.00 fine. It counts towards the three that it takes to get habitualized and a 5 year DL suspension. Do not just plead guilty to this offense. Hire an attorney and let him or her help you avoid a conviction, if possible.
A second offense is a 1st degree MM, punishable by up to 1 year in jail and a $1,000.00 fine. It counts towards the three needed to get habitualized and a 5 year DL suspension. Do not just plea guilty to this offense. Hire an attorney and let him or her help you avoid a conviction, if possible.
A third offense may be a felony, but if the suspension was the result of failure to pay fines or a lapse of insurance, it will be a misdemeanor. It can still be used towards that 5 year suspension.
3. Felony DWLS - DWLS becomes a felony in two cases: a) if you are habitualized, or b) if it is the third or more offense and was not due to fines or a lapse in insurance. If you get convicted of this crime you can get up to 5 years in prison and a $5000.00 fine. Convictions may be used to suspend your license for 5 years. Do not just plea guilty to this offense. Hire an attorney and let him or her help you avoid a conviction, if possible.
How do you become a Habitualized Traffic Offender (HTO) and get your license suspended for 5 years?
Answer: Get any combination of any 3 of the following within a 5 year period:
1. Voluntary or involuntary manslaughter resulting from the operation of a motor vehicle
2. Any DUI
3. Any felony in the commission of which a motor vehicle is used
4. Driving while your license is suspended or revoked
5. Failure to stop and render aid at a motor vehicle crash resulting in death or personal injury
6. Driving a commercial vehicle while that privilege is disqualified
7. Fifteen (15) conviction for moving traffic infractions for which points may be assessed
Your license will not be automatically reinstated after the 5 years is up. You must go to DHSMV and get your license reinstated.
Driving While License Suspended (DWLS):
According to Florida Statute 322.34(2), “Any person whose driver’s license or driving privilege has been canceled, suspended, or revoked as provided by law, except persons defined in § 322.264, who, knowing of such cancellation, suspension, or revocation, drives any motor vehicle upon the highways of this state while such license or privilege is canceled, suspended, or revoked, upon: (a) A first conviction is guilty of a misdemeanor of the second degree, punishable as provided in Florida Statute § 775.082 or §. 775.083; (b) A second conviction is guilty of a misdemeanor of the first degree, punishable as provided in Florida Statute § 775.082 or § 775.083; (c) A third or subsequent conviction is guilty of a felony of the third degree, punishable as provided in Florida Statutes § 775.082, § 775.083, or § 775.084.” This section of Florida Statute 322.34 focuses on the motorist who knows about the suspension, cancellation or revocation of his or her license, and provides penalties for continuing to drive with that license. Exception -- The exception to 322.34(2) is a person who is a habitual traffic offender. The element of knowledge is satisfied if the person has been previously cited for the same offense, or admits to knowledge of the cancellation, suspension, or revocation, or has received notice of the cancellation, suspension, or revocation.