Driving While License Suspended ("DWLS")
Driving While License Suspended (also called “DWLS”) is a criminal traffic offense in Florida. This page is intended to better inform those charged with DWLS of their options regarding the available defenses in court, and possibly regaining your driving privilege. Driving While License Suspended is a crime that increases in punishment for each prior DWLS.
If it is your first offense, you likely are being charged with a second degree misdemeanor, the lowest grade of all criminal offenses in the State of Florida. The maximum penalties for the second degree misdemeanor can be 60 days in jail or on probation, and up to a $500.00 fine. Other sanctions may be imposed by the Court and there may be other consequences and costs that are not part of the criminal case.
If it is your second offense, you likely are being charged with a first degree misdemeanor. The maximum penalties for the first degree misdemeanor can be one year in jail or on probation, or some combination of both not exceeding one year, and up to a $1,000.00 fine. Other sanctions may be imposed by the Court and there may be other consequences and costs that are not part of the criminal case.
If it is your third offense, you are likely going to be charged with a third degree felony. The maximum penalties for being charged with third degree felony DWLS is up to five years in Florida's state prison system, and a five year driver's license revocation. Other sanctions may be imposed by the Court and there may be other consequences and costs that are not part of the criminal case.
DWLS can occur in one of two ways. First, you may have received a civil DWLS infraction where you unknowingly drive with a suspended license. This type of suspension may occur if there is a lapse in car insurance, or a lapse in child support, or a ticket is forgotten and not paid, or for other reasons.
However, please know that the civil infraction does count as "one strike" against you, your criminal history, and your driving record. If you get three DWLS charges within a period of five years from the date of the last conviction, you are exposed to felony charges carrying five years in prison and a $5,000.00 fine.You also will be labeled as a "habitual traffic offender" if you are convicted of three driving while license suspended cases, regardless of whether you were jailed or not. There are valid legal defenses to the charge of Driving While License Suspended. The case must also be proven beyond and to the exclusion of all reasonable doubt. That means you have a right to a trial, the right to confront of your accuser, and a host of evidentiary rights.
There is much that an aggressive traffic criminal defense practitioner can do for you. You may be able to get your license back. You may not have gone without a license for years because of other legal issues and and a lack of money or time to solve these problems. Many judges are understanding of personal hardships that create these legal difficulties. They also want you to be a legally licensed driver if you are going to exercise the privilege of driving. A legal driver has insurance while a suspended driver usually is not insured. A legal driver is safer and more concerned about the law, protecting their personal rights, and not harming the rights of others. An unlicensed driver is typically unsafe, and concerned about only themselves else because they mistakenly think they have nothing to lose. A legal driver puts less stress on the legal system, and should be rewarded for their efforts in resolving license problems prior to trial. If you driver's license is suspended, the best defense is to not drive with the suspended or revoked license. However, if you have been arrested or charged with DWLS, The Law Office of Paul Courtright, P.A. has the knowledge and experience to help you get through your DWLS charge.
The hiring of a lawyer is an important decision that should not be based solely on advertisements. Before you decide, ask the attorney to send you free written information about their qualifications and experience. The information you obtain at this site is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. You should consult an attorney for individual advice regarding your own situation.