I run into this charge frequently in my practice, because there are many ways in which a person’s license can be suspended. For example, if a person misses a court date (even for a minor offense like a traffic ticket), the court will issue a bench warrant and the individual’s license will be suspended. A person’s license can also be suspended upon conviction for certain offenses (DUI, for example), or after accumulating sufficient points under the Department of Driver Services‘ points system. Drivers are sometimes not even aware that they have a suspended license until they are stopped by the police. This can be a shocking experience, as Driving on a Suspended License is a serious charge and carries with it the possibility of serious penalties.
But you should not despair, and you certainly should not simply plead guilty without speaking to an experienced Georgia Criminal Defense Attorney about your case.
O.C.G.A. § 40-5-121 lays out the penalties for Driving on a Suspended, Revoked, or Disqualified license. The statute specifically excludes habitual violators whose licenses have been revoked under O.C.G.A. § 40-5-58. The penalties are as follows:
Legal Penalties for Driving on a Suspended License Conviction
|Offense||Classification||Penalty for Conviction|
|Driving on a Suspended License OR Driving Without a License – 1st Conviction in 5 Years||Misdemeanor||At least 2 days but not more than 12 months in jail;
Fine of at least $500 but not more than $1,000; and
|Driving on a Suspended License OR Driving Without a License – 2nd or 3rd Conviction in 5 Years||High and Aggravated Misdemeanor||At least 10 days but not more than 12 months in jail; and
Fine of at least $1,000 but not more than $2,500.
|Driving on a Suspended License OR Driving Without a License – 4th or subsequent conviction in 5 Years||Felony||At least 1 year but not more than 5 years in jail; and
Fine of at least $2,500 but not more than $5,000.
For a first conviction within 5 years, the Department of Driver Services will impose a 6-month license suspension, which begins on the day of conviction. No limited driving permits will be issued for those convicted of Driving on a Suspended License. Once the 6-month suspension has been served, the individual may reinstate his/her license by paying a $210 reinstatement fee (if paid in person) or a$200 reinstatement fee (if paid by mail). The convicting court is required to forward the driver’s fingerprints to the Georgia Crime Information Center (GCIC) in order to track further violations.
Note that a plea of nolo contendre (no contest) will prevent the license suspension so long as it is the first plea of nolo contendre within 5 years. The offense must still be reported to DDS and the individual must still be fingerprinted.
For a second or third conviction within 5 years, the individual’s license will be suspended for 6 months, beginning on the date of the conviction. No limited driving permits will be issued to individuals convicted of Driving on a Suspended License. For a second conviction, the reinstatement fee is $310 (or $300 if paid by mail). For a third conviction, the reinstatement fee is $410 (or $400 if paid by mail).
For a fourth or subsequent conviction within 5 years, the suspension period is 6 months, beginning on the conviction date. No limited permits are available. The reinstatement fee for a fourth conviction for Driving on a Suspended License is $410 (or $400 if paid by mail).
If you have been charged with Driving on a Suspended, Revoked, or Disqualified License, you should speak to an experienced Georgia Criminal Defense Attorney immediately. I understand that being charged with a crime in Georgia can be overwhelming because the stakes are so high. That is why I make every effort to save your license, keep you out of jail, and make the process as painless as possible.