Driving on a suspended license

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:


  1. Reckless or negligent driving,
  2. Driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol, and
  3. Refusing to submit to a chemical test and other DUI-related offenses.


The California Vehicle Code also makes it a crime to operate a vehicle when your license has been suspended because of:


  • Alcohol and/or drug addiction, or
  • Physical and/or mental condition that makes it unsafe to operate a vehicle.


Regardless, any conviction for driving on a suspended license will  require that you knew that your license had been suspended or revoked.


You will be presumed to have knowledge of a license suspension or revocation if:


  1. The California DMV mailed a notice with the appropriate information  to your most recent address on file with the department and that notice  was not returned to the DMV as undeliverable or unclaimed;
  2. A law enforcement or peace officer personally served notice of the  suspension or revocation and confiscated your license when you were  arrested for a DUI or other driving offense; or
  3. A judge personally informed you in court at a sentencing hearing.


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.

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Driving without a license

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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:


  1. Driving without a valid license issued
  2. Driving on a suspended license
  3. Refusing to show your license to law enforcement upon request

Driving without a valid license issued

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:


  • issued by your home state,
  • not expired, and
  • issued for the type of vehicle you are driving


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

Driving on a suspended license

Driving Without a Physical License/Refusing to Display Your Driver’s Licence

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.

Contact Us Today!

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.