Suspended Licenses

For a prosecutor, a driving while suspended or revoked is a very simple case to prove.  They just have to prove that you were driving or “in actual physical control of a motor vehicle” while suspended or revoked.  The only defenses are that (1) the stop was illegal; (2) the defendant wasn’t driving; (3) the defendant wasn’t driving on the public roads; or (4) the defendant wasn’t suspended or revoked.

The penalties for driving while suspended or revoked vary dramatically depending (1) the reason for the underlying suspension and (2) the number of prior offenses.

Often, the underlying suspension or revocation can be removed (or “cleared”) from your driving record.   Many times the state’s attorney will offer to dismiss a driving while suspended case once the suspension has been cleared, if the underlying basis was not serious. Even if they won’t drop the case, the prosecutor or court make a much more lenient offer to someone who has taken the necessary steps to clear up his or her license.  The first step that an attorney should take is to review the driving record to determine whether it is possible to clear up the suspensions and/or revocations.

Some driving records, however, cannot be cleared.  The Secretary of State will not allow a hearing for anyone who has a pending case.

The most severe penalties are for anyone driving during a DUI based suspension or revocation.

Driving during a first offense DUI suspension, when otherwise eligible to drive legally with a monitored device driving permit, can be prosecuted as a Class Four felony, with a mandatory minimum of thirty days in jail.  This is true even if it is your first offense, or if the DUI or suspension are dismissed.

If revoked for DUI, a first offense carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 days in jail or 30 days of community service, upon a conviction.  A second offense can be charged as a Class Four felony.

For a fourth driving while revoked due to a DUI conviction, a defendant faces a minimum 180 days in jail, up to three years in prison (extendable up to six years if the defendant has prior felonies).   A tenth is a minimum 3 years.   And so on, with greater penalties for each new offense.

In addition, the vehicle that the defendant was driving can be impounded or forfeited.  Also, the suspension and/or revocation will be extended with each conviction, and any driving permit will be canceled.

Needless to say, it is very important to retain an attorney who is knowledgeable in this area.