Under California Vehicle Code 14601, it is a crime to operate a motor vehicle when you know that your driving privileges have been suspended or revoked by the state. Several circumstances can result in the revocation or suspension of driving privileges, including convictions for:
The California Vehicle Code also makes it a crime to operate a vehicle when your license has been suspended because of:
Regardless, any conviction for driving on a suspended license will require that you knew that your license had been suspended or revoked.
The presumption that you had knowledge will exist if the DMV, law enforcement officer, or judge followed the appropriate legal guidelines to notify you of the suspension. The fact that you did not have actual knowledge can be irrelevant. Hiring a skilled attorney to handle your case is the best way to rebut this presumption.
What happens when you drive without a license in California? The consequences you may face will depend on which California Vehicle Code Section you violate. In California, there are three primary ways to violate the law:
California Vehicle Code Section 12500(a) VC makes it a crime to drive a motor vehicle on a highway without a valid license. In California, a highway is defined as any “way or place of whatever nature” that is publicly maintained and open for public use for the purpose of traveling in a vehicle. A highway is specifically defined to include a street. So, you may be guilty of driving without a license if you drive on a public road.
What makes a license valid? To be valid, a license must be:
For example, if you are from Oregon and are driving a passenger car through the state of California, you must have a current standard driver’s license issued by Oregon.
Alternatively, if you are a California resident who is driving a motorcycle along the Pacific Coast Highway, you must have a current motorcycle driver’s license issued by the state of California.
Driving a special class vehicle (commercial truck, motorcycle, etc.) without the appropriate driver’s license – regardless of the fact that you hold a valid regular driver’s license – is a violation of California law
California Vehicle Code Section 12951 VC makes it an offense to operate a car without physically having a valid driver’s license in your possession. If, when you are formally charged in court, you can produce your driver’s license and prove that it was (a) issued and (b) valid at the time of your arrest the charges can be dropped.
It is also a crime to refuse to display your driver’s license to a law enforcement officer when it is requested. The law enforcement officer must be actively enforcing the provisions of the Vehicle Code for you to be guilty of this offense.
For all the listed reasons, it is important to have great attorneys on your side.
The Law Offices of William R. Burgener, APC, are equipped to represent and defend the accused on all traffic violations. Mr. Burgener's talent is apparent due to the sensitive nature of these cases and the special attention each defendant receives throughout this tedious process.