Driving on a Suspended license, Vehicle code 14601, is a priorable offense generally charged as a misdemeanor. There are many subsections that can vary the penalties of these charges depending on the reason for the license suspension or revocation.

VC 14601 Driving on a Suspended License; Driving on a Revoked License

I. Overview

California Vehicle Code 14601 is a violation of driving while your license is suspended or revoked. There are different variations of this offense depending on why your license is suspended or revoked. These offenses are normally charged as misdemeanors and can result in getting arrested, having your car impounded, probation, fines, installation of IID device and jail time.

II. Elements of the charge

To be convicted of a VC 14601, the prosecutor has to establish the following three factors: 1. That you were driving, 2. That your license was suspended or revoked at that time, and 3. That you had knowledge of this suspension or revocation.

III. Different VC 14601 charges

The following are summaries of various charges under VC 14601:

14601(a) - Drivers License suspended or revoked due to 1) Reckless driving, 2) alcohol and/or drug abuse, 3) mental or physical disability that prevents you from driving safely, 4) being declared a negligent or incompetent driver.

14601.1(a) - Serves as a catch-all. This section makes it illegal to knowingly drive while your drivers license is suspended or revoked by the DMV for any reason that is not covered by the other subsections of VC 14601.

14601.2(a) - This charge is based on knowingly driving with a drivers license suspended or revoked based on a DUI conviction. Conviction under this statute comes with a mandatory county jail sentence, which can vary and increases if you are a multiple offender.

14601.3(a) - This charge is based on knowingly driving on a license that is suspended or revoked, and accumulating a driving record history during the period of suspension or revocation. A person who violates this subdivision is designated as a habitual traffic offender. For purposes of this section, a “driving record history” includes any of the following if occurred during a period of suspension or revocation:

1) Two or more convictions within a 12 month period of an offense with a violation point count of two per Section 12810. (ie. VC 23152 “DUI,” or VC 23109 “Exhibition of Speed,” etc),
2) Three or more convictions within a 12 month period of an offense given a violation point count of one pursuant to Section 12810. (ie. running a red light, etc),
3) Three or more accidents within a 12 month period that are subject to the reporting requirements of Section 16000. (ie. causing injury or property damage totaling $750 or more),

Any combination of convictions or accidents, as specified in paragraphs 1through 3, inclusive, which results during any 12-month period in a violation point count of three or more pursuant to Section 12810.
Conviction under this statute comes with a mandatory county jail sentence, which can vary and increases if you are a multiple offender. A person who violates this subdivision is designated as a habitual traffic offender.

14601.5(a) – Drivers license suspended or revoked to do any of the following:
1) Refusing to submit to a DUI blood, breath, or urine test as requested by law enforcement,
2) If under age 21, refused to submit to a Preliminary Alcohol Screening (PAS) test, or had a DUI blood alcohol content level of 0.01% or more,
3) Refusing to submit to PAS (or other chemical test if PAS test unavailable) when suspected of driving under the influence of alcohol while on probation for a an alcohol related offense (ie. DUI),
4) Driving with a 0.01% or greater BAC while on probation for DUI
5) The person was driving a motor vehicle with a 0.08 percent or more, by weight, of alcohol in his or her blood.
6) The person was driving a vehicle that requires a commercial driver’s license when the person had a 0.04% or higher BAC.

IV.  Penalties and Sentencing for VC 14601 Offenses

Penalties for VC 14601, 14601.1, 14601.2, 14601.3, and 14601.5, driving on a suspended or revoked license, are all priorable misdemeanor offenses, meaning that your potential penalty increases with each subsequent conviction within 5 to 7 years depending on which section of VC 14601 is violated.

A conviction under VC 14601 or it’s subsections can result in serious consequences including probation, large fines, installation of IID device (if suspension based on DUI conviction) and jail time. The penalties in a case can very depending on:
1) the reason your license was suspended,
2) whether you have prior “driving on a suspended or revoked license” convictions, and
3) your driving history.

If you are in the unfortunate position of being arrested for driving on a suspended or revoked license while you have an outstanding California bench warrant or California arrest warrant, you may receive a harsher punishment.

IV. Fighting a VC 14601 Driving on a Suspended or Revoked license

Sometimes there are valid defenses to VC14601 charges based on no driving, or for VC 14601.2 and 14601.5, that you were driving within the parameters of your restricted or critical needs license. In other instances, there are valid defenses based on “lack of knowledge” that the license was suspended or revoked. For example, If the notice of your suspension was mailed, it is possible that the letter could have been sent to an old address, or gotten lost in the postal service system.

In other cases, the suspension or revocation on your license may be there by way of an error which can lead to a dismissal of the charge.
Often, VC 14601 cases are resolved prior to trial by way of a plea bargain. This can result in:
1) the VC 14601 being reduced to a lesser offense, such as a VC 12500 driving without a valid license,
2) the misdemeanor charges being reduced to a non-criminal infraction, or
3) complete dismissal of the charge.

IV.  Similar charge, VC 12500 “Driving without a Valid License”
“Driving without a valid license,” although similar, is a separate and less serious charge than VC 14601. For more info on VC 12500, click here:  Driving without a Valid License

This Article is for informative purposes only

As there are many variables that can be involved in a VC 14601 charge, you should not rely on this article, as it is intended for general informative purposes only. Additionally, there may have been updates to the law after this article was written. There is no attorney-client privilege generated from this article. If your charge is in Los Angeles County, Ventura County, San Bernardino County, or Orange County, feel free to call me at 818-336-1384 or www.1DUILawyer.com to have further correspondence about your specific case.

The information on this website is for general information only and your reading of it does not create an attorney-client relationship between you and The Law Office of Philip D. Hache.  Information on this website is not legal advice for any individual case, investigation, or any other legal matter. The Law Office of Philip D. Hache may only be engaged as legal counsel by a client after the prospective client and the Office of Philip D. Hache each agrees to the specific terms and conditions of the representation, such terms and conditions are set forth in a written engagement agreement signed by both parties.   The Law Office of Philip D. Hache does not necessarily endorse or approve of the materials appearing on any website which links within the Law Office of Philip D. Hache website may lead, nor do the owners of such other websites necessarily endorse or approve of the materials contained within this website.  

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The information on this website is for general information only and your reading of it does not create an attorney-client relationship between you and The Law Office of Philip D. Hache.  Information on this website is not legal advice for any individual case, investigation, or any other legal matter. The Law Office of Philip D. Hache may only be engaged as legal counsel by a client after the prospective client and the Law Office of Philip D. Hache each agrees to the specific terms and conditions of the representation, such terms and conditions are set forth in a written engagement agreement signed by both parties.   The Law Office of Philip D. Hache does not necessarily endorse or approve of the materials appearing on any website which links within the Law Office of Philip D. Hache website may lead, nor do the owners of such other websites necessarily endorse or approve of the materials contained within this website.