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When does driving with a suspended license become a felony?

On Behalf of | May 23, 2023 | Criminal Law

Florida drivers can face license suspension for many reasons. These include failing to pay financial obligations like tickets, fines or child support, racking up too many points on their licenses or gaining the title of “habitual offender” among other causes. While the suspension is not a permanent state, some individuals may find themselves needing transportation desperately enough to get behind the wheel despite it before they can get the suspension revoked.

However, if caught, those drivers face legal consequences.

Driving with a suspended license starts as a misdemeanor

The first time an individual gets caught driving with a suspended license, he or she faces a misdemeanor of the second degree. This upgrades to a misdemeanor of a first degree for a second or subsequent offense given he or she does not perform one of four other offenses in the process, is not a habitual offender and does not drive a commercial vehicle. After three or more instances, the driver automatically gets a minimum jail sentence of 10 days.

Driving with a suspended license becomes a felony when in tandem with another driving violation

The third or subsequent case of driving with a suspended license turns into a felony if the driver commits one of the following driving violations at the same time:

  • Driving while impaired by alcohol or drugs
  • Running away
  • Refusing a urine, breath or blood-alcohol test
  • Committing a traffic violation that leads to a death or severe injury

Driving with a suspended license is a felony the first time for anyone who is a habitual offender. It is also a felony the second time when operating a commercial vehicle.

Those who drive with a suspended license may be guilty of a felony of the third degree. This carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison, a $5,000 fine and five years probation for a first felony offense.