Driving on a Suspended License: Penalties and Aftermath

Driving on a Suspended license is essentially the same as driving with no license.  This is the view in almost every sovereign state in the Union and a very meaningful and dangerous state of affairs.  Many states have statutes that allow the impounding of the vehicle driven and all of its contents.  Some states have mandatory jail time.  Nearly all states have mandatory financial penalties of some sort.

In reality most states want the financial penalty and will deny the violator the right to drive for an extended number of years over and above the suspended license.  If it becomes a repeated occurrence, permanent loss of license, the prohibition of obtaining insurance, as well as jail time become the norm in most of the states.  It was surprising how many people had some experience with this situation.  Many expressed surprise when assessed of the suspended license because no (remembered) notification was ever received.  Situations around traffic or driving violations or some other misdemeanor occurred out of state where some type of ticket and or fine was imposed.  No following up on the ticket and or not paying the fine can typically lead to a suspended license out of state.  How and whether notification occurs is one issue.  Receiving the notification and acknowledging it is another issue.  Regardless of the issue, the states collaborate some and the state of residence will be both the bearer of bad news as well as be the enactor of the “driving on as suspended license” court action.   If the finding out of the suspended license situation occurs while out of state due to some other violation, that state can impound the vehicle, put the driver under custody for case disposition.

Surprisingly, quite a few people provided experiences where the states seemed to minimize the penalties except for whatever was mandatory.  Situation and extenuating circumstances seemed to play a role but it is an even more dangerous game to use these results as expectations and finding out differently.  A few explained that they went into a hearing thinking that everything would be minimized and then getting slammed about as badly as possible.  They suspect that this thinking that the minimal would occur portrayed itself as aloofness or arrogant in the hearing, leading to the getting slammed.

If the circumstances are simply that a person received a suspended license for some other illegal act and that person is arrogantly ignoring the court’s judgment by driving, the courts often reinstate whatever might have been suspended on the original suspension, then add on penalties for this latest arrogant act.  Arrogance or the perception of arrogance often triggers the getting the maximum in penalties.  Jail time can almost be guaranteed.  Extension to the suspension, if not outright loss of license for some number of years are all penalties a judge will happily apply to an arrogant defendant.

The federal government, state governments, local governments and jurisdictions all put the accountability of knowing the penalties for any illegal action and subsequent judgment solely on the defendant’s shoulders.  Keeping one’s DMV name and address correct and up to date are standard expectations in every state so that if someone in government or jurisdiction wants to notify that person.

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