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SUSPENDED LICENSE OFFENSES

Offenses relating to driving on a suspended license can carry serious consequences involving fines, license suspension and jail. These offenses fall into several categories including:

  • Driving on a suspended license under §46.2-301
  • Driving after license forfeiture under §18.2-272
  • Operating a vehicle without a license under §46.2-300

§ 46.2-301 Driving on a Suspended License

B. Except as provided in §§46.2-304 and 46.2-357, no resident or nonresident (i) whose driver's license, learner's permit, or privilege to drive a motor vehicle hDriving on a Suspended Licenseas been suspended or revoked or (ii) who has been directed not to drive by any court or by the Commissioner, or (iii) who has been forbidden, as prescribed by operation of any statute of the Commonwealth or a substantially similar ordinance of any county, city or town, to operate a motor vehicle in the Commonwealth shall thereafter drive any motor vehicle or any self-propelled machinery or equipment on any highway in the Commonwealth until the period of such suspension or revocation has terminated or the privilege has been reinstated. A clerk's notice of suspension of license for failure to pay fines or costs given in accordance with §46.2-395 shall be sufficient notice for the purpose of maintaining a conviction under this section. For the purposes of this section, the phrase "motor vehicle or any self-propelled machinery or equipment" shall not include mopeds.

This subsection of §46.2-301 outlines the substance of this offense. The most common circumstances which can give rise to a violation of this section include driving after certain convictions including:

  • reckless driving with a license suspension component
  • DUI
  • failing to stop at the scene of an accident
  • drug offenses regardless of whether a vehicle was involved
  • felony convictions involving a motor vehicle
  • eluding a police officer

An operator's license can also be suspended upon administrative action for:

  • failure to pay court fines within 15 days as a result of a traffic or criminal conviction
  • child support delinquency of 90 days or $5,000 arrearage
  • failure to complete a required driver improvement clinic
  • rapid DMV points accumulation

Regardless of the reason for the license suspension, the offense carries the same range of penalties as well as a sentence enhancement for prior convictions:

  Offense Class Jail Fine License Suspension
1st offense Class 1 misdemeanor Up to 12 months Up to $2,500 Same period as prior suspension or up to 90 days
2nd offense Class 1 misdemeanor Up to 12 months Up to $2,500 Same period as prior suspension or up to 90 days
3rd offense Class 1 misdemeanor

Up to 12 months

10 days mandatory time

Up to $2,500 Same period as prior suspension or up to 90 days

 

§ 18.2-272 Driving after Forfeiture of License

A. Any person who drives or operates any motor vehicle, engine or train in the Commonwealth during the time for which he was deprived of the right to do so (i) upon conviction of a violation of §18.2-268.3 or of an offense set forth in subsection E of §18.2-270, (ii) by §18.2-271 or 46.2-391.2, (iii) after his license has been revoked pursuant to §46.2-389 or 46.2-391, or (iv) in violation of the terms of a restricted license issued pursuant to subsection E of §18.2-271.1, is guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor except as otherwise provided in §46.2-391, and is subject to administrative revocation of his driver's license pursuant to §§46.2-389 and 46.2-391. Any person convicted of a third offense in 10 years of a violation of this section shall be guilty of a Class 6 felony....

B. Regardless of compliance with any other restrictions on his privilege to drive or operate a motor vehicle, it shall be a violation of this section for any person whose privilege to drive or operate a motor vehicle has been restricted, suspended or revoked because of a violation of §18.2-36.1,18.2-51.4,18.2-266,18.2-268.3, 46.2-341.24, or a similar ordinance or law of another state or the United States to drive or operate a motor vehicle while he has a blood alcohol content of 0.02 percent or more.

There is significant overlap between this statute and §46.2-301 in that the prosecutor may choose to charge an offense under either statute. However, this statute applies when an individual's license is suspended due to:

  • refusal of a blood or breath test upon suspicion of a DUI/DWI
  • DUI/DWI conviction
  • initial administrative suspension upon DUI/DWI charge
  • several other enumerated offenses within §46.2-389

More commonly, an individual is charged under this statute when the individual drives outside the parameters of a restricted operator's license or drives a motor vehicle according to the restriction or while under suspension and with a BAC of .02% or more.

The penalties for a violation of this statute are those of a Class 1 misdemeanor, although a third offense violation is enhanced to a Class 6 felony. This statute significantly differs from §46.2-301 with regard to the licensing penalty. Under this statute an individual's license is administratively revoked by the DMV as opposed to suspended. Unlike a suspended license, a person with a revoked license must undergo such DMV procedures as establishing proof of residency and pass testing requirements in order to receive license reinstatement upon completion of the revoked time period. A first offense violation of this statute requires a 1 year license revocation while a second or subsequent offense will result in a three year revocation.

§ 46.2-300 Driving Without a License

No person, except those expressly exempted in §§46.2-303 through 46.2-308, shall drive any motor vehicle on any highway in the Commonwealth until such person has applied for a driver's license, as provided in this article, satisfactorily passed the examination required by §46.2-325, and obtained a driver's license, nor unless the license is valid.

This statute is the least harsh of the three offenses and applies to all individuals who operate a motor vehicle within the Commonwealth of Virginia. In other words, all drivers must have a Virginia license to drive in Virginia unless one of the exemptions apply which include:

  • those operating farm machinery
  • certain exemptions for those in the armed forces
  • nonresidents who are lawfully licensed by their resident state
  • certain nonresidents of foreign countries who are lawfully licensed
  • Virginia residents within a 60 day grace period of moving to Virginia who are lawfully licensed

A violation of this statute constites a Class 2 misdemeanor which penalty can result in up to 6 months in jail and up to a $1,500 fine. This statute does not require a period of license suspension as the other statutes.

When faced with a charge under §46.2-300, 46.2-301 or 18.2-272 it is important to select an attorney who understands not only the criminal penalties associated with these statutes, but also the potential administrative sanctions. The lawyer who will effectively advocate your interest understands:

  • statutory notice requirements
  • the technical definition relating to a highway
  • proof needed to establish restricted license provisions
  • proof necessary to establish BAC levels
  • what distinguishes a severe case with likely jail time from the less severe
  • what type of exceptions to the statutory offense may apply
  • potential administrative sanctions
  • requirements relating to license reinstatement
  • differences in license suspension requirements
  • your driving record

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