Florida drivers may have their licenses suspended for numerous reasons, and if they continue to drive, they could face criminal charges.
Although many view it as a right, driving is a privilege in Florida, and elsewhere. As such, it may be taken away. In order to ensure their rights are protected, it is important for drivers to understand what may lead to driver's license suspensions, as well as the penalties they may face if they are convicted of driving while their license is suspended.
Reasons for driver's license suspensions
People in Florida may lose their driving privileges for any number of reasons. Some of the most common of these include the following:
- Failing to appear on or comply with a traffic summons, or to pay a fine
- Being convicted of drunk driving
- Neglecting to attend or complete a court-ordered school
- Not meeting the minimum vision standards
- Falling behind on court-ordered child support
- Being deemed incapable of safely operating a motor vehicle or as a habitual traffic offender
Additionally, the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles points out that people may also be subject to a driver's license suspension if they accumulate 12 points on their licenses within a 12-month period, 18 points on their licenses within an 18-month period or 24 points on their license within a 36-month period.
Checking the status of a Florida driver's license
Under some circumstances, people may not be aware that their driver's licenses have been suspended. If drivers are unsure of their status, it is advisable that they check before getting behind the wheel to avoid potential criminal charges. People may check their Florida driver's license status, driving history and driving school eligibility on the state's Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles website or by contacting the DHSMV in person or by phone.
Driving on a suspended license
Whether they are aware of their suspension or not, people could face potentially serious consequences if they continue to drive while their driving privileges are suspended. Under Florida law, a first time driving on a suspended license charge is considered a second degree misdemeanor. A second charge is upgraded to a first degree misdemeanor, and a third or subsequent offenses are charged as third degree felonies.
If convicted of these charges, people could face fines, as well as jail or prison time. Drivers may be fined a maximum of $500 and sentenced to up to 60 days in jail for a first time offense. A second conviction may result in a fine of up to $1,000 and a maximum of one year in prison. Motorists who are convicted of three or more driving on a suspended license charges may be fined as much as $5,000 and sentenced to up to five years in prison.
Consulting with an attorney
On the surface, a suspended driver's license may seem like an inconvenience, but it can present a number of other, serious issues for Floridians. If people have lost their driving privileges or are in jeopardy of having their license suspended, they may find it of benefit to seek legal guidance. An attorney may explain their rights and options, which may include requesting an administrative hearing, pursuing a reinstatement or obtaining a hardship license.