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Driving While License Suspended

Overview

Driving While License Suspended (DWLS) criminal records are always related to a driver’s license that has been suspended for reasons including having too many penalty points, a DUI conviction, drug crimes, unpaid traffic ticket(s) or child support and any type of “forbidden” driving that violates the terms of a restricted license.

The difference between license “Suspension” and license “Revocation” is that a revoked license can’t be restored until the offender has a Hearing before a Secretary of State’s Driver Assessment and Appeal Division (DAAD) and receives approval for Restoration of Driving Privileges.

 

Reinstating a Suspended License

Reinstating a Suspended License

Two scenarios can happen in case of having a Suspended License:

  • It could get reinstated as soon as a certain event takes place – most of the time it’s related to paying an amount of money, for instance paying all outstanding tickets, late fees, reinstatement fees or associated costs;
  • It could get reinstated after a certain period of time, given the fact that a suspension is usually registered under a “From-To” period, for example “License Suspended from May 3, 2019, until May 3, 2020.”
 

Classifying DWLS Convictions

Depending on the reason for the suspension, the circumstances and the number of past convictions, a DWLS can be classified as a:

  • Non-criminal Traffic Offense – for first-time offenders who weren’t aware of the suspension. In states like Florida, it’s punishable with a forfeiture, a fine, or another civil penalty;
  • First-degree Misdemeanor – for second-time offenders who were aware of the suspension or for first-time offenders if they hold a commercial driver's license and are caught driving while suspended. It’s punishable by 1 year of probation, up to 1 year in jail, or a combination of the two;
  • Second-degree Misdemeanor - for first-time offenders who knew about the suspension. The punishment includes 6 months of probation and/or up-to 60 daysof jail time;
  • Third-degree Felony – for third-time offenders or if someone’s been caught driving after a permanent revocation of their license or after being designated a Habitual Traffic Offender (HTO); it’s punishable by up to 5 years in prison.
 

Habitual Traffic Offender (HTO)

Habitual Traffic Offender

In 19 states, dangerous drivers with a long list of traffic offenses may be deemed “Habitual Traffic Offenders” (HTO). The legislation varies. For instance in Florida, a Habitual Traffic Offender is anyone who has accumulated at least 3 convictions of the following offenses within 5 years:

  • Driving Under the Influence (DUI)
  • A felony, a voluntary or involuntary manslaughter caused by driving
  • Failing to stop and help as requested by law
  • 15 convictions for moving traffic offenses that resulted in penalty points
  • Driving while license suspended or revoked (DWLS/(DWLR)
  • Operating a commercial motor vehicle while having this privilege suspended

In other states like Colorado, you’re an HTO if you accumulate three HTO “strikes” within 7 years. Also, if someone is arrested for Driving While Ability Impaired (DWAI) or driving under the influence (DUI) while being an HTO, they could be charged with a class 6 felony and prison time.

Generally speaking, whena person is labeled a Habitual Traffic Offender, the DMV suspends their driving privilege for 5 years. If they’re caught driving within this 5-year time frame, they might face a $5,000 fine and be sentenced a maximum of 5 years in prison and/or 5 years probation.

 

The DWLS Impound Law

The DWLS Impound Law

The Driving While License Suspended Impound Law authorizes law enforcement officers to tow vehicles whenever they stop a suspended driver. Depending on the state, the vehicle faces a police hold for 30, 60, or 90 days. The driver might also have to pay a deposit of 50% of the towing and storage fees within 5 days of the impoundment date. Failing to do so means the car could be auctioned before the hold period ends. Some states require an additional court release and a fee to be paid before picking up the car.

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