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Licensing Offenses

Driving on a Suspended License and Other License Offenses

Driving on a Suspended License (Va Code § 46.2-301(B))

Driving on a Suspended License is the most common license offense in Virginia. It is also one of the most common criminal offenses in Virginia. In Fairfax County alone, approximately 30 people a day are charged with this crime.

To be guilty of Driving on a Suspended License you must:

1)  Drive a motor vehicle or self-propelled machinery on a highway in Virginia and

2)  Have already received notice that your license was revoked, suspended, or forbidden.

In Virginia “driving” is a term defined by case law to mean “putting something in motion”. Thus in order to be guilty of 46.2-301, it can be argued that a person needs to have actually put the vehicle in motion. If you were charged with driving on a suspended license and you believe that you were not actually driving, contact a local traffic attorney immediately to discuss your case.

“Motor vehicle” is a term defined in Virginia code that means any self-propelled vehicle except for bicycles, electric wheelchairs, power assist bicycles, and mopeds. Mopeds are vehicles that have three wheels or less, a seat no less than 24 inches from the ground, and less than 50 cc of engine displacement.

In Virginia, highways are any public road surface including toll roads and some types of parking lots which are traveled by the public. Highways may also include roads inside private residential neighborhoods (e.g. trailer parks and gated communities). If you were charged with driving on a suspended license and you believe that you were not actually driving on a public highway, contact a local traffic attorney immediately to discuss your case.

Drivers may be charged with driving on a suspended license even if they never received a driver’s license. If the court or the DMV “suspended or revoked” your license it does not matter whether you ever had one to begin with. It still counts.

Once an official notice of suspension is sent to a driver, it does not matter whether the driver actually receives or reads it. It only matters that it was the right letter and that it was sent via the proper methods. If you were charged with driving on a suspended license and did not receive notification of the suspension, contact a local traffic attorney immediately to discuss your case.

Driving on a Suspended License is a Class 1 misdemeanor. It carries up to 12 months in jail and a $2500 fine. In addition, the court may double the driver’s previous suspension (or suspend the driver’s license up to 90 days if the suspension was indefinite). If the driver was suspended for DUI, Refusal to Submit to a Blood Breath test, or is a habitual offender, his vehicle will be impounded for 90 days. For a third Driving on a Suspended License offense, there is mandatory jail time of at least ten days. Driving on a Suspended license also carries six DMV demerit points and stays on one’s DMV record for eleven years (though remains on one’s criminal record permanently).

A judge can convict and punish a driver for driving on a suspended license even if the driver manages to get his license back before trial. To learn more about defenses to Driving on a Suspended License click here or contact a local traffic attorney.

Permitting an Unlicensed Driver to Operate Your Car (Va Code § 46.2-301.1(E))

Under Virginia law it is illegal to knowingly allow a person to operate your car if you know that the person’s license has been suspended for certain offenses. In order to be convicted the government must prove three things:

1)  The owner knowingly allowed the driver to operate the car

2)  The owner knew the driver had a suspended or revoked license or was unlicensed

3)  The owner knew that the driver’s license was suspended or revoked for:

a.  DUI Maiming

b.  DUI

c.  Driving on a Revoked License

d.  Refusal to Submit to a Blood or Breath Test

e.  Driving without a Valid License (2nd offense or worse)

This statute requires no more than operation of a vehicle. “Operating” a vehicle includes idling, and even possibly using any of the electrical equipment with the keys in the ignition. Operating a vehicle has a very broad and vague legal definition.

This statute applies to a very limited number of license suspensions. It can also be argued that this statute requires the government to prove that the owner knew why the driver was suspended.

Permitting an unlicensed driver to operate your vehicle is a Class 1 misdemeanor, punishable by up to 12 months in jail and a $2,500 fine. This offense carries three demerit points and remains on your DMV record for three years. Because it is a criminal offense, it will remain on your criminal record forever.

Driving on a Revoked License (Va Code § 18.2-272)

Driving on a revoked license is one of the most serious license offenses in Virginia. To be guilty of Driving on a Revoked Licensed under 18.2-272 a driver must:

1)  Drive or operate a motor vehicle or train in Virginia after losing the privilege to do so and

2)  Have had his license revoked or suspended due to DUI or refusal to submit to a blood or breath test

Driving on a Revoked License is different from Driving on a Suspended License in several ways. First, a person can be guilty of driving on a revoked license even if they are not driving. Operating a vehicle is enough to violate this law. In Virginia, operating a vehicle means to control it or engage its mechanisms. Being behind the wheel of an idling car is enough. Having the key in the ignition and the stereo or fans on may even be enough. If there is any question as to whether you were operating a vehicle under this statute, contact a local traffic attorney immediately.

Under 18.2-272, there is no clear exception for mopeds. Any motor vehicle is covered under this statute so any self-propelled vehicle could possibly be covered under this statute. If you have any question as to whether the vehicle you were operating is covered under this statute, contact a local traffic attorney to discuss your case.

To be found guilty of Driving on a Revoked License, a driver must have driven after losing his license for DUI or refusal to submit to a blood or breath test. Driving while on administrative suspension can also be a violation of Va. Code 18.2-272. Administrative suspension is the period of time when a driver who has been arrested but not yet convicted of DUI is prohibited from driving prior to trial.

Drivers who received a restricted license after being convicted of DUI may be charged with Driving on a Revoked License if they drive outside the terms of their restricted license or if they drive while having a Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) of.02 or more.

Driving on a Revoked License is more serious than most other forms of Driving on a Suspended License because license suspension is mandatory and lasts an entire year. A driver who is convicted of Driving on a Revoked License cannot have a restricted license during the one-year period. Driving on a revoked license is a Class 1 misdemeanor with up to 12 months of jail time. Being convicted of Driving on a Revoked License three times or more within the last ten years is a felony with up to five years in prison. Driving on a Revoked License also carries six DMV demerit points and remains on your DMV record for eleven years (though it remains on your criminal record permanently).

Driving Without a Valid License (Va Code § 46.2-300)

Driving without a valid license is extremely common in Virginia. Illegal immigrants and drivers from out-of-state are the two most common offenders. This law often affects illegal immigrants in Virginia because Virginia does not issue driver’s licenses to undocumented aliens. Because of this issue, it is not uncommon to meet illegal immigrants with half a dozen convictions on their record. Because immigration is a topic that stirs passionate responses in some people, some judges have strong notions of how to deal with undocumented aliens who are charged with this crime. If you are an undocumented alien charged with driving without a valid license, consult a local traffic attorney immediately to determine what to expect from your local traffic court judge.

Some undocumented aliens have concerns about what they should do if the judge asks them about their immigration status and whether Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) may take action against them. An experienced local traffic attorney can answer these questions.

Out-of-state drivers and new Virginia residents are often affected by this law because Virginia law says that out-of-state licenses are only valid in Virginia for 60 days after a person becomes a resident of Virginia. If you have been a resident of Virginia for more than 60 days and drive without getting a Virginia license, you can be charged with Driving without a Valid License.

In order to for this law to apply, a driver must have been a resident of Virginia for more than 60 days. Being a resident is not the same as living in Virginia. If you have been charged under this statute because you did not get a Virginia license, contact a local traffic attorney to determine if or when you became a resident of Virginia.

To be found guilty of Driving without a Valid License a Driver must be driving a motor vehicle on a highway in Virginia without a valid operator’s license.

Driving under this statute is the same as Driving with a Suspended License under 46.2-301. Driving typically means to put a vehicle in motion. If the vehicle was not in motion then a traffic attorney may be able to argue that there was no driving.

There is no explicit moped exception to Driving without a Valid License. However, a person may drive a moped in Virginia without a license if they comply with the rules of Va. Code section 46.2-914 and the moped is actually a moped as defined under Va. Code 46.2-100.

Driving Without a Valid License under 46.2-300 is a Class 2 misdemeanor punishable by up to six months in jail, a $1000 fine, and a 90-day license suspension. A second violation is a Class 1 misdemeanor punishable by 12 months in jail, $2,500 in fines, and a 90-day license suspension. Driving Without a Valid License also carries three DMV demerit points and stays on your DMV record for three years (though it stays on your criminal record permanently).

Driving After Revocation for Multiple DUIs etc. (Va Code § 46.2-391)

Driving after Revocation for Multiple DUIs is the most serious license offense. In order to be convicted of Driving after Revocation under 46.2-391(D) a driver must be driving a motor vehicle after having his license revoked for conviction of one of the following:

a.  Involuntary Manslaughter (18.2-36.1)

b.  DUI Maiming (18.2-54.1)

c.  Driving on Revoked License (18.2-272) twice or more

d.  DUI twice or more

Statute 46.2-391(D) outlaws “driving” (as opposed to merely “operating”) a motor vehicle on a revoked license. Therefore, a traffic attorney may argue that the vehicle has to be in motion to violate this statute.

Statute 46.2-391(D) also does not have a moped exception in the statute but mopeds may be allowed if the driver complies with the rules of 46.2-914 and 46.2-100.

Driving on a “highway” is not a requirement for 46.2-391(D). A person who is driving on private property and has multiple DUI convictions can also be convicted of driving on a revoked license.

In order to be convicted, the driver must have been suspended after being convicted of involuntary manslaughter (18.2-36.1), DUI Maiming (18.2-54.1), multiple charges of Driving on a Revoked License (18.2-272), or multiple DUIs. Administrative suspensions do not count, nor does Refusal to Submit to a Blood or Breath test. However, driving outside of the terms of a restricted license does fall under this statute if the driver was convicted of three or more DUIs, Involuntary Manslaughter, or DUI Maiming.

Driving after Revocation under 46.2-391 is very serious. It is a Class 1 misdemeanor with up to 12 months in jail and a $2500 fine. There is a mandatory minimum of ten days in jail. However, if the driver puts anyone’s life or property in jeopardy while driving then 46.2-391(D) becomes a Class 6 felony with a mandatory minimum of one year in jail and up to five years in prison. All forms of Driving on a Revoked License under 46.2-391(D) carry a one-year license suspension as well. Driving on a Revoked License for Multiple DUIs (46.2-391(D) also carries six DMV demerit points and stays on the driver’s DMV record for eleven years (though it stays on his criminal record permanently).

Driving Without Furnishing Proof of Financial Responsibility (Va Code § 46.2-302)

If a driver is ordered by the DMV to furnish proof of financial responsibility (usually insurance) and does not fully comply, he can be charged under 46.2-301 or under this specific statute.

Driving Without Furnishing Proof of Financial Responsibility under 46.2-302  is a Class 2 misdemeanor with up to six months in jail, a $1000 fine and a 90-day license suspension. Being convicted twice is a Class 1 misdemeanor with up to 12 months in jail, a 90-day license suspension and a $2500 fine.

Driving While A Habitual Offender (Va Code § (46.2-357)

Virginia courts used to be able to declare drivers “Habitual Offenders”. Being declared a habitual offender meant severe restrictions on a driver’s right to drive and enhanced punishments for many traffic violations. This law has since been revoked. However, those who were declared habitual offenders prior to the revocation of the law still live under those restrictions.

Driving While a Habitual Offender is almost exactly the same offense and punishment as Driving After Multiple DUI Convictions under 46.2-391(D). If you happen to be one of the few and unlucky remaining habitual offenders and you are charged under this offense, consult an experienced traffic attorney immediately.

Possession of a Suspended/Revoked License (Va Code § 46.2-346)

Knowingly possessing, creating, or lending a fake, invalid, or suspended license with the intent to avoid being caught breaking traffic laws (including driving on a suspended license) is a special offense under 46.2-346.

In the case of Driving on a Suspended License, drivers who know they are suspended or revoked but keep their old license or try to use someone else’s license can be charged under this statute.

Violating this law is a Class 2 misdemeanor punishable by up to six months in jail and a $1000 fine. In addition, if the court suspends your license and you do not turn it in to the bailiff, court clerk, or DMV, your license is still be suspended but the suspension period will not begin to count. Waiting to turn in your license only extends your suspension. For example, if the suspension period is six months and you wait three months to turn in your license, your suspension will effectively last nine months altogether. A local traffic attorney can aid you in guaranteeing that your suspension period is not inadvertently extended.

Failure to Obtain a Virginia License (Va Code § 46.2-308)

46.2-308 is a strange statute that is often interpreted differently in different jurisdictions. Driving in Virginia with a valid out-of-state license after you’ve been a resident for 60 days is sometimes prosecuted as a traffic infraction punishable by a fine of up to $250. This is the less severe alternative to the criminal offense of Driving Without A Valid License under 46.2-300. If you are charged with Failure to Obtain a Virginia License make sure you have not been charged with the criminal version of this law under 46.2-300. The same elements and defenses to 46.2-300 also apply to 46.2-308 . Failure to Obtain a Virginia License carries three DMV demerit points and stays on your DMV record for three years.

Failure to Update Address (Va Code § 46.2-324)

A Virginia driver is guilty of Failure to Update their License if they change their address and do not notify the Virginia DMV within 30 days of doing so.

This statute is applied very differently in different jurisdictions. Some judges in Fairfax County treat this as a civil infraction with a maximum fine of $5. Meanwhile, in Arlington County, this same offense is occasionally prosecuted as a criminal offense. Contact a local traffic attorney to find out how your particular case may be handled. Failure to Update Your License carries three DMV demerit points and stays on your DMV record for three years.

Failure to Have License Reevaluated (Va. Code § 46.2-330)

If a driver is charged with driving on a license that has not been renewed, the officer may choose to charge him under 46.2-330. Like some other license offenses, this statute is treated differently by different judges but is usually prosecuted as a traffic infraction with a maximum fine of $250. This offense carries three DMV demerit points and stays on a driver’s record for three years.

No License or Registration in Possession (Va Code § 46.2-104

This is the mildest traffic ticket in Virginia. If a police officer asks to see your license and/or registration and you do not have it, you can be charged with No License or Registration in Possession under 46.2-104. This charge carries no DMV points and has a maximum fine of $10 plus court costs. Very few officers write this ticket. Sometimes, a traffic attorney may be able to negotiate a plea deal that allows a client to be convicted of this traffic infraction instead of a more serious license offense such as Driving without a Valid License or Driving on a Suspended License.

Violating Conditions of Learner’s Permit (Va Code § 46.2-335)

A driver with a learner’s permit may only drive:

•  When accompanied by a licensed driver who is

a.  21 years-old or older (or 18 years-old for some family members)

b.  alert

c.  able to assist the driver

d.  seated next to the driver

•  A driver with a learner’s permit cannot have more than one passenger who is under 18 (unless they are family or it is part of a driving course).

•  A driver with a learner’s permit cannot drive between midnight and 4:00am.

•  Drivers with motorcycle learners permits cannot

a.  drive without a helmet

b.  have any passengers

c.  and must be accompanied by someone over 21.

Violating any of these conditions while driving with a learner’s permit is a criminal offense (Class 2 misdemeanor) punishable by up to six months in jail and a $1000 fine. It also carries three demerit points and will remain on the driver’s DMV record for up to three years.

Certain Offense with a Provisional Driver’s License (For Minors) (Va Code § 46.2-334.01)

During the first year of a provisional license, the minor driver cannot have more than one minor passenger who is not a family member. After the first year, the limit is three non-family minor passengers. A driver with a provisional license cannot operate any type of phone (even with a hands-free device) except in emergencies or while parked. A provisional driver cannot drive between midnight or 4:00 am except under certain exceptions.

Violating any of these rules is a traffic infraction with a maximum penalty of $250. A second conviction allows the judge to suspend the driver’s license for up to six months.

Driving in Violation of License Restrictions Related to Driver’s Ability (Va Code § 46.2-329)

The DMV may issue a driver’s license with special restrictions regarding the driver’s ability to driver. For example, a driver may not be allowed to drive without glasses. Drivers who violate the terms of their restrictions can be charged with a criminal offense under 46.2-329. This is offense is a Class 2 misdemeanor punishable by up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine. This offense also carries three DMV demerit points and stays on your driving record for three years (though it remains on your criminal record permanently).

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