Vehicle Code 14601 VC makes it a crime in California to drive a motor vehicle while your license is suspended or revoked. A violation of this statute is a misdemeanor. People can have their licenses suspended for various reasons such as:
- driving a vehicle after having their license suspended for a DUI (a misdemeanor under VC 23152(a))
- operating a car after license revocation for being a habitual traffic offender
- driving after receiving a license suspension for refusing to submit to a chemical test upon request by an officer
A defendant can raise a legal defense to challenge a charge under this statute. Common defenses include:
- No knowledge of license being suspended,
- No suspension having taken placed, and/or
- Necessity–such as taking a loved one to ER due to an illness.
- Up to 6 months County Jail, and/or
- $300 to $1,000 in fines/fees
- A judge can award summary probation instead of jail time.
(a) No person shall drive a motor vehicle at any time when that person’s driving privilege is suspended or revoked for reckless driving in violation of Section 23103, 23104, or 23105, any reason listed in subdivision (a) or (c) of Section 12806 authorizing the department to refuse to issue a license, negligent or incompetent operation of a motor vehicle as prescribed in subdivision (e) of Section 12809, or negligent operation as prescribed in Section 12810.5, if the person so driving has knowledge of the suspension or revocation. Knowledge shall be conclusively presumed if mailed notice has been given by the department to the person pursuant to Section 13106. The presumption established by this subdivision is a presumption affecting the burden of proof.
(b) A person convicted under this section shall be punished as follows:
(1) Upon a first conviction, by imprisonment in a county jail for not less than five days or more than six months and by a fine of not less than three hundred dollars ($300) or more than one thousand dollars ($1,000).
(2) If the offense occurred within five years of a prior offense that resulted in a conviction of a violation of this section or Section 14601.1, 14601.2, or 14601.5, by imprisonment in a county jail for not less than 10 days or more than one year and by a fine of not less than five hundred dollars ($500) or more than two thousand dollars ($2,000).
(c) If the offense occurred within five years of a prior offense that resulted in a conviction of a violation of this section or Section 14601.1, 14601.2, or 14601.5, and is granted probation, the court shall impose as a condition of probation that the person be confined in a county jail for at least 10 days.
(d) Nothing in this section prohibits a person from driving a motor vehicle, that is owned or utilized by the person’s employer, during the course of employment on private property that is owned or utilized by the employer, except an off-street parking facility as defined in subdivision (c) of Section 12500.
(e) When the prosecution agrees to a plea of guilty or nolo contendere to a charge of a violation of this section in satisfaction of, or as a substitute for, an original charge of a violation of Section 14601.2, and the court accepts that plea, except, in the interest of justice, when the court finds it would be inappropriate, the court shall, pursuant to Section 23575, require the person convicted, in addition to any other requirements, to install a certified ignition interlock device on any vehicle that the person owns or operates for a period not to exceed three years.
(f) This section also applies to the operation of an off-highway motor vehicle on those lands to which the Chappie-Z’berg Off-Highway Motor Vehicle Law of 1971 (Division 16.5 (commencing with Section 38000)) applies as to off-highway motor vehicles, as described in Section 38001.
(Amended by Stats. 2007, Ch. 682, Sec. 14. Effective January 1, 2008.)