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Driving While Your License Is under Suspension

Interviewer: What happens if your license is suspended and you drive anyway, and then you are pulled over by the police? What kind of an offense will you incur?

Penalties for Driving under a License Suspension Include an Additional Suspension Period and Possible Jail Time

Ron Mondello: It depends on the underlying reason for the suspension in the first place. Let me give you an example: If your license was suspended for failure to pay a fine, or failure to deal with some type of a speeding ticket, or a parking ticket, or other moving violation, and the judge suspends your license for six months, and you get caught driving 30 days later. That driving while suspended is not enhanced. You are looking at another suspension up to six months.

On the other hand, let’s say you plead guilty to a DWI, and your license was suspended for seven months to a year. Then, if 30 days later, you decide to get behind the wheel and drive; the penalties for driving while suspended are enhanced.

The judge can impose a one- to two-year loss of license, as well as a 10 to 90 days jail sentence. That is a substantial difference from my earlier example. You just have to focus on what the underlying reason for the suspension was.

How Are Drivers’ Licenses Most Commonly Suspended?

Interviewer: What are the most common reasons that you see people get caught with this driving while they license is suspended?

Insurance Related: Speeding Tickets and Failure to Pay Car Insurance Premiums are Common Reasons for Suspensions

Ron Mondello: The most common reason is that people fail to pay their insurance surcharges. If you get a speeding ticket, and you plead guilty, and you get four points, in no time you’re up to six points with the Motor Vehicle Commission. At the six point level, they start assessing $100 each year for three years. That’s a Motor Vehicle Commission Insurance Surcharge.

Failure to Pay the Motor Vehicle Commission-Imposed Surcharge Will Result in a License Suspension

If you’ve plead guilty to driving while suspended, there are nine insurance eligibility points, and the motor vehicle charges you $250 each year for three years. Let’s say you neglect to attend to the $250 that you’re supposed to pay each year for the next three years, which is that Motor Vehicle Commission Insurance Surcharge. If you do not pay, they will suspend your license.

Once they suspend you for not paying the surcharge, what happens is many police cars are equipped with these computers on the back of the vehicle. They can scan literally hundreds of license plates in seconds. If they scan your plate, it will come up that you’ve been suspended.

The police officer will match the registration pedigree information, Richard Jacobs, white male, 38 years old. If that matches, they’ll pull you over. You’ll get a ticket for driving while suspended, and the reason for your suspension is your failure to pay insurance surcharges.

Most License Suspensions Result from Minor Infractions

Interviewer: The most common reasons are relatively minor?  You mentioned speeding tickets and insurance fees?

Ron Mondello: I would say that’s true. A majority of the reasons for people getting suspended is failure to pay their insurance surcharges and failure to take care of tickets, whether it’s in another state or this state. You will be suspended for that.

Failure to Pay Child Support Can Also Result in a License Suspension

Another reason, although it’s minor, is failure to pay your child support. You can be suspended for failure to pay your child support. You don’t see too many instances but it can occur. Also, driving while suspended with the underlying reason of the suspension due to a DWI.

Interviewer: Do people understand that this is very serious, and then they come to you with this frequently, or they tend to procrastinate?

Reducing Accumulated Points on Your License

Ron Mondello: Well, what usually attracts attention are the accumulated points. If you’ve accumulated a certain amount of points, which are 12, your license gets suspended. Then, what usually happens is people will go to the Motor Vehicle Commission. They’ll make, I always call it, the pact with the devil. They’ll take one of these driver improvement classes to get three points reduced.

In exchange for that, with the Motor Vehicle Commission, if you take one of their classes, if you get another ticket within 30 days, you automatically get suspended. Add another ticket within 60 days and you’re automatically suspended for a lesser period, and so on, and so forth.

A First Offense Driving while Suspended will Result in Your Insurance Rates Doubling or Tripling over Time

People typically come to me when first offense for driving while suspended, which entails a $500 fine and nine insurance points. That means your insurance will double or triple over the next three years. You have to pay the Motor Vehicle Commission $250 each year for three years. Then, there’s a suspension up to six months.

By Ronald P. Mondello