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Driving while License Suspended

Florida Statute Section 322.34 prohibits driving while the driver’s license is canceled, suspended, or revoked. If the driver has no knowledge that the license is canceled or suspended, then the offense is a civil infraction punishable by a fine.

On the other hand, if the driver has knowledge that the license is canceled, suspended, or revoked, then the offense might be charged as a misdemeanor felony offense.

The best result in these cases is getting the charge dismissed on the merits. Entering a plea to any DWLS charge can cause serious collateral consequences. For example, if you are convicted of three civil infractions for DWLS without knowledge within a five (5) year period, then your license will be revoked for 5 years as a habitual traffic offender.

The penalties for DWLS might depend, in part, on the number of prior convictions:

  • a civil infraction for DWLS without knowledge is punishable by a fine only;
  • a first offense for DWLS with knowledge is punishable as a second-degree misdemeanor;
  • a second offense for DWLS with knowledge is punishable as a first-degree misdemeanor; or
  • a third or subsequent offense of DWLS (under some circumstances) is punishable as a third-degree felony.

Attorney for DWLS in Tampa, FL

If you were charged with knowingly driving a motor vehicle while your driver’s license was canceled, suspended, or revoked, then contact the experienced criminal defense attorneys at Sammis Law Firm. With offices in Tampa, FL, we represent clients charged with serious traffic crimes throughout the greater Tampa Bay area including:

  • Driving while license suspended, revoked or canceled with knowledge § 322.34(2);
  • No valid driver’s license § 322.03;
  • No valid commercial driver’s license § 322.53;
  • Restricted license § 322.16;
  • Driving while license revoked as a habitual traffic offender § 322.34(5);
  • Driving a commercial motor vehicle while the driver’s license or driving privilege was canceled, suspended, revoked, disqualified under suspension or revocation equivalent status under § 322.34(7); or
  • Operating a motor vehicle carelessly or negligently causing serious bodily injury, or death, without having a driver’s license or while the driver’s license was canceled, suspended, or revoked for a specified reason under § 322.34(6)(a) or (b).

Call 8130-250-0500 for a free and confidential consultation.

Elements of DWLS under Florida Law

To prove the crime of driving with a suspended license under section 322.34(2), Florida Statutes, at trial, the prosecutor for the State Attorney’s Office must prove the three elements:

  • the defendant’s driver’s license was suspended at the relevant time;
  • the defendant’s knowledge of the license suspension; and
  • the defendant was actually driving.”

When it comes to proving knowledge, § 322.34(2)(c), Fla. Stat. provides:

The element of knowledge is satisfied if the person has been previously cited as provided in subsection (1); or the person admits to knowledge of the cancellation, suspension, or revocation; or the person received notice as provided in subsection (4).

There shall be a rebuttable presumption that the knowledge requirement is satisfied if a judgment or order as provided in subsection (4) appears in the department’s records for any case except for one involving a suspension by the department for failure to pay a traffic fine or for a financial responsibility violation.

Felony Charges for DWLS in Florida

Florida law provides for several different ways in which crimes for driving while license suspended might be charged as a felony. For example, Section 322.34(6) makes it a felony of the third degree to operate a motor vehicle and “by careless or negligent operation of the motor vehicle” causes the death of or serious bodily injury to another human being under the following circumstances:

  • without having a driver’s license as required under s. 322.03; or
  • while his or her driver’s license or driving privilege is canceled, suspended or revoked pursuant to s. 316.655, s. 322.26(8), s. 322.27(2), or s. 322.28(2) or (4).

This article was last updated on Friday, September 2, 2022.