What Happens If I’m Caught Driving with a Suspended License?

If you have a suspended or revoked license, you know that losing driving privileges has a huge impact on your daily life. Getting caught driving a motor vehicle on a suspended or revoked license will result in a felony or misdemeanor charge. It will also make it that much more difficult to get your license back.

What happens when your driver’s license gets suspended?

When your license gets suspended, that means you don’t have your driving privileges from one period of time to another. For example, if your license is suspended on September 10, 2019, the suspension will end on September 11, 2020.

What happens when your driver’s license is revoked?

When your license is revoked, you lose your driving privileges for an indefinite period of time and are required to take part in an administrative hearing at the Secretary of State to reinstate your privileges. Therefore, if your license is revoked on September 10, 2019, you would not get your license back until you are successful at an administrative hearing.

The difference between driving while your license is suspended and driving while your license is revoked

Driving while your license is suspended (DWLS) and driving while your license is revoked (DWLR) are two different offenses governed by the same law. Therefore, they have the same criminal penalties. Driving with a suspended license and driving with a revoked license are both misdemeanors or felonies, depending on the circumstances as described below.

Misdemeanor DWLS/DWLR offenses

First time getting a DWLS/DWLR

  • Up to 93 days in jail and/or a fine of $500 or less
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DWLS/DWLR that occurs after a prior conviction

  • Up to a year in jail and/or a fine of $1,000 or less

Felony DWLS/DWLR offenses

DWLS/DWLR and causing serious impairment of a body function of another person*

The penalties are:

  • Up to 5 years in prison and/or a fine between $1,000 and $5,000

DWLS/DWLR and causing death*

  • Up to 15 years in prison and/or a fine between $2,500 and $10,000

On top of these penalties, the court may also:

1. Order the forfeiture of the vehicle used in the offense if you own the vehicle in whole or part or lease the vehicle, or

2. Order the return of the vehicle to the lessor if you lease the vehicle. Your vehicle will be sold by whichever police department seized it. If the vehicle is not ordered forfeited, the court will order vehicle immobilization.

Additionally, the prosecutor may seek an enhanced sentence if you have a prior conviction or were driving under the influence.

Being convicted or driving with a suspended or revoked license

Being convicted of DWLS/DWLR will delay the process of getting your driver’s license back. After you are convicted, the court notifies the Secretary of State who immediately tacks an additional, “like period of suspension or revocation.” This means that if you had a suspension for one year while you were driving on a suspended license, you now have another year-long suspension.

Hire a lawyer to increase your chances of getting your DWLS/DWLR charge dropped to a conviction that will not ruin to your driving record and make you a valid driver again. That way, additional suspensions, and license charges will not be applied.

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Additionally, if you have multiple license suspensions or revocation within 7 years, the court will order vehicle immobilization. Immobilization can be applied to 180 days, between 90 days and 180 days, or between 1 and 3 years depending on the number of suspensions or revocations you have. Community service may also be applied.

Talk to a criminal defense attorney

If you are serious about getting your valid license back, do not become a suspended or revoked driver. If you do and are charged with DWLS/DWLR, call our defense lawyers for a free consultation so we can make sure you don’t get additional suspensions.

*Does not apply to someone who has a DWLS because of failing to answer a citation or comply with an order or judgment under section 321a.