California Vehicle Code Section 14601.2 is the charge for driving on a suspended license in California when the suspension was the result of a prior DUI conviction. Unlike driving without a license under VC 12500 and even driving on a suspended license in California under VC 14601.1(a) or VC 14601.5(a), 14601.2(a) is a charge that usually results in a jail sentence even if it’s your first time getting caught. All of these charges may look the same at first glance, but note the slight change in the last digit of the charge. When dealing with a 14601 charge for driving on a suspended license in California, it’s the last digit that may determine your fate.
This is a shock for most people. You can get a California DUI case without getting jail time, you can possess drugs in California without getting jail time, you can even commit many felony offenses in the California court system without getting jail time. Everyday we see stories on the news about celebrities avoiding jail time on things that sound like very serious criminal charges, yet no jail time is given. So how could they possibly send you to jail if you get caught driving on a suspended license in California? You were probably just trying to get to work or taking your kids to school. Why is this jail time? Let’s take a look at how the sentencing scheme is set up try to understand how this works.
14601.1(a)-California Vehicle Code Section 14601.1(a) is the code section most commonly used to charge people who have a suspended license in California or more technically speaking, a suspended right to drive (and yes you can have a suspended license even though you never had a license in the first place). While your license can be suspended for a wide variety of reasons, the most common scenario is a suspension based on a failure to appear from a traffic ticket. The failure to appear triggers a hold on your license under VC 40509.5, and then the DMV sends you a notice telling you that your license is suspended. The notice (assuming you actually get it) is practically written in latin and if you make the effort to sort out the problem, you usually end up talking to a collection agency (such as GC Services in LA County), and you find out that your simple ticket is now going to cost you over $1000. Certainly a mess, that will cost you time, money, and make a mockery of your driving record, but usually not a jail mess unless you have prior convictions, warrants, or a very aggressive DA or Judge.
14601.5(a)-California Vehicle Code Section 14601.5(a) is the code section used when your license has been suspended as a result of the APS or Admin Per Se proceeding related to a DUI that takes place at the DMV. This hearing is often lost by default when people charged with a DUI in California fail to request a DMV hearing within ten days. So to break it down step by step, this charge means that you blew over a .08 (or over .01 if you are an under 21 driver) and the DMV yanked your license. You may have beaten your California DUI case in court, had it reduced to a lesser charge, or maybe you California DUI case is still pending in court. So to summarize, there was a DUI investigation conducted by the police, the DMV took your license or more specifically took action against your privilege to drive in California, BUT no DUI conviction has occurred in court, hello 14601.5(a). Now you are walking on thin ice. Maybe jail time maybe not. Depends on the judge and varies greatly from one courthouse to another for this type of suspended license in California.
14601.2(a)-California Vehicle Code Section 14601.2(a) is the code section used when you have already had the DUI conviction in court (you plead guilty or no contest, or you were convicted by a jury or judge) and then after that you get busted driving on your suspended license in California. Hello jail time. California VC 14601.2(a) carries a mandatory minimum of at least ten days in the county jail on your first offense. For a second or subsequent offense that minimum goes up to thirty days and you face a maximum sentence of up to one year in the county jail. In addition to your time in the pokey, you are looking at fines of about $2,000 and the mandatory installation of a breathalyzer device on your car. Yes, you read that correctly, people go to real jail over this over day. According to some estimates, twenty percent of the cases in our criminal courts are for driving without a license or driving on a suspended license in California.
If you are facing a DUI charge in California it’s essential that you consult a qualified DUI lawyer to discuss your potential defenses to see if there is a way to save your license. Even if you can’t beat your case, you will need the help of a lawyer to minimize the damage to your license and to understand the complicated suspension process so that you can get your license back as fast as possible. I can’t tell you how many people I have talked to over the years that have told me “I’m not hiring a DUI lawyer because I am going to plead guilty to my case, hiring a lawyer is a waste of money”. Inevitably, those same people are calling me six months later begging for help to stay out of jail on a driving on a suspended license in California charge, a probation violation, or both. So while getting your DUI case dismissed is always the goal for a DUI lawyer, in some cases the facts are not favorable for the defense and a plea bargain may be the safer play to avoid the risk of more severe consequences. When you are facing a DUI charge in California, you always need the advice of a lawyer to keep the problem from snowballing into jail time. If you can’t afford to hire your own lawyer, simply ask the judge to appoint a public defender at your first court appearance.
Are you facing a California DUI case? Have you already been convicted? Do you have a suspended license in California? Have you already been caught driving on a suspended license in California? Want to know how to fix it? Give me a call at 800-797-8406, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or check out my website. I’m always available for a free consult and to explain how to steer clear of the county jail and get you back on the path to a valid license.