You plead guilty to a DUI a couple months ago, and your license is now suspended. Unfortunately, a problem cropped up at work, and you had to get there somehow, so you jumped in your wife’s car and took off. After you missed a stop sign, the police pulled you over. You are now charged with driving on a suspended license.
What can happen to you? What can you do about it?
If you are convicted of driving on a suspended or revoked license due to an underlying alcohol offense, you may be subject to serving a mandatory minimum of 10 days in jail or 30 days of community service on a first offense. For a second offense, the penalty is increased to at least 30 days jail or 300 hours of community service, For a third offense, you no longer have the community service option and you may have to serve a minimum 30 days in jail. After the third offense, the minimum jail term is 180 days.
While your first offense is a Class A Misdemeanor, a second through ninth offense becomes a Class 4 felony, punishable by one to three years in prison and up to a $25,000 fine. After the ninth offense, you may be charged with a Class 3 felony, punishable by 2 to 5 years in prison and up to a $25,000 fine.
The news gets worse if you could have received a Monitoring Device Driving Permit (MDDP), which allows you to drive with a breath-activated ignition device, but failed to do so, or if you got the MDDP but didn’t use the car with that device. Then, your first offense escalates to a Class 4 felony and a minimum jail term of 30 days.
In addition to the criminal punishment, the Secretary of State can substantially increase the length of time that your driver’s license is suspended.
Getting caught driving on a suspended license can be pretty dire, but not entirely hopeless. The state has the burden of proving beyond a reasonable doubt that you were driving, and that your license was suspended or revoked for an underlying alcohol-related offense. This is not a difficult burden for the state to prove, but you may still have a valid defense. Did the police have probable cause to stop you? Was there an emergency that forced you to drive? Is there some mistake concerning the underlying reason for your suspension? An experienced criminal law attorney can help you evaluate possible defenses. Even where there is no credible defense, in many cases, a respected attorney can still help negotiate a more favorable plea agreement than you could on your own.
If you have questions about your situation, feel free to contact Matt Keenan at 847-568-0160 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for advice.