Driving on a Suspended License in California 2023

Driving on a Suspended License in California 2023


Driving is a fundamental aspect of life in California, a sprawling state known for its diverse landscapes and vibrant cities. However, it’s also a state with strict traffic laws and regulations designed to maintain road safety. One of these regulations pertains to driving on a suspended license. In this article, we’ll delve into the legal intricacies and consequences of driving with a suspended license in California.

Understanding License Suspension

To comprehend the gravity of driving on a suspended license in California, one must first understand what it means to have a suspended license. A driver’s license can be suspended for various reasons, such as accumulating too many points on your driving record, failing to appear in court for a traffic violation, or even due to criminal convictions unrelated to driving, such as a DUI.

Driving on a Suspended License: The Legal Perspective

Driving on a suspended license in California is a violation of the law, as outlined in California Vehicle Code Section 14601. This law makes it illegal for anyone to operate a motor vehicle when their driving privileges have been suspended or revoked. The consequences of violating this law can be severe, and they vary depending on the circumstances.

Misdemeanor Offense: 

Driving on a suspended license is generally considered a misdemeanor in California. If convicted, it may result in penalties including fines, probation, or even jail time, depending on the number of prior offenses and the reason for the suspension.

Vehicle Impoundment: 

In some cases, if you’re caught driving with a suspended license, your vehicle may be impounded. This can be both costly and inconvenient, as you’ll be responsible for towing and storage fees.

Extended Suspension: 

Driving on a suspended license can lead to an extended suspension period, compounding the difficulties of daily life without a valid license.

Criminal Record: 

A conviction for driving on a suspended license can result in a criminal record, which can affect future employment opportunities and insurance rates.

Additional Charges:

 If you’re caught driving on a suspended license and are also found to be under the influence of drugs or alcohol, you may face additional charges, such as a DUI, which can carry more severe penalties.

Penalties for Driving on a Suspended License

The penalties for driving on a suspended license in California can vary widely depending on factors such as your prior driving record, the reason for the suspension, and whether you’ve committed multiple offenses. Generally, the consequences can include:


Fines for driving on a suspended license can range from hundreds to thousands of dollars, making it a costly offense.


You may be placed on probation, which comes with conditions you must meet, such as not committing any further offenses.

Jail Time: 

In some cases, you could face up to six months in county jail for a first offense, and more for subsequent offenses.

Vehicle Impoundment: 

As mentioned earlier, your vehicle may be impounded, and you’ll be responsible for the associated costs.

Extended License Suspension: 

Your license suspension period may be extended, making it even more challenging to regain your driving privileges.

How Long Does A Penalty For Driving On A Suspended License In California Remain In Your Record?

A DUI conviction on a person’s criminal record can remain for years or decades. However, there are some forms of possible relief in these cases, through:  

1. DUI Criminal Record Expungement

With the help of an experienced criminal defense attorney, it is possible to clear a DUI criminal record. This can be accomplished after successfully completing the conditional period and probationary period. 

If the conditions of probation are violated, you will not be able to apply for the record to be expunged from the court record.

Generally, the fulfillment of the conditional period takes from 3 to 5 years, counted from the date of conviction for DUI. The cleaning of judicial records for DUI allows:

  • Withdraw a guilty plea or no plea.
  • Enter a plea of ​​not guilty again.
  • Close the case. 

However, if a thorough investigation is conducted, a DUI conviction is likely to appear. However, the law prohibits any employer from alleging this against the worker to fire them or deny them a job.

2. Period Of 10 Years To Expunge A DUI

A DUI can go away or be “expunged” after 10 years. It means that if you are convicted of a second or third DUI, it cannot be used against you as a repeat offender. 

Can The Police Hold My License Upon Arrest?

Yes. The law allows the police officer to take your driver’s license at the time you are formally arrested for DUI. As long as the charge is related to driving while intoxicated with an illegal degree of alcohol in the blood.

The simple presumption by the arresting officer that the driver was driving under the influence of drugs or prescription medication does not apply. In that case they are prohibited from retaining the driver’s license. 

How To Check The Status Of My License?

You can apply to the DMV in person by submitting an application using form INF1125. Also through an online application for which a fee is paid. If you prefer, you can request a license status update by mail and check it there.

Can I Get My Suspended Driver’s License Back?

When the suspension period ends, it is possible to request the return of the suspended license.

Before, however, you must meet the following requirements:

  • Payment of all fines and penalties.
  • Successfully serve the prison sentence.
  • Pass the mandatory Drug and Alcohol Education courses, among others.
  • Attend the DMV and provide the requested documentation (vehicle registration, insurance policy and others).
  • Pay license issuance or reinstatement fees.


Driving on a suspended license in California is a serious legal offense with potentially severe consequences. It’s crucial to respect the state’s traffic laws and avoid situations that can lead to a suspended license. If your license is suspended, it’s advisable to explore legal options for reinstatement and seek alternative means of transportation to avoid the risks and penalties associated with driving on a suspended license.

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