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Common Defenses to Driving on a Suspended or Revoked License

The following are common defenses to Driving on a Suspended or Revoked License:

Warrantless Arrest

In Virginia, a law enforcement officer cannot ticket or arrest a person for a misdemeanor traffic offense or traffic infraction unless one of the following conditions is met:

  • the offense happens in the officer’s presence,
  • the officer arrests/tickets the person at the scene of an accident,
  • the officer arrests/tickets the person at a hospital, or
  • the officer arrests/tickets the person for DUI or car theft under certain circumstances.

If an officer makes a warrantless arrest or writes a ticket for a traffic offense that did not occur under one of the other specific conditions, the arrest is not valid and the charges may be dropped. If you are charged with a traffic offense (including driving on a suspended license) and the officer did not see you drive the vehicle, contact a Virginia traffic attorney to find out if your ticket is valid.

Reasonable Articulable Suspicion

For a traffic stop to be legal, the police must have a "reasonable articulable suspicion" that some criminal activity is afoot before they can stop the driver. Knowing that car belongs to a suspended license holder is usually not enough evidence.

If a judge declares a traffic stop unconstitutional, the judge will likely dismiss the charges. If you have any doubts as to whether the officer legally stopped you, contact one of our local criminal defense attorneys immediately.

Probable Cause

Before you can be arrested for driving on a suspended license, the officer must have probable cause to believe you are guilty. However, if your traffic attorney can convince the judge that, at the time of the arrest, the police did not have enough evidence, the judge may dismiss the case. If you believe that the police did not have enough evidence at the time of your arrest, contact one of our local traffic attorneys immediately for a consultation.

Notice of Suspension or Revocation

Several of the most common license offenses (such as Driving on a Suspended License, Driving on a Revoked License, etc.) require that the driver be notified that they have been suspended or revoked. Being notified is not the same thing as knowing.

If the driver tells the officer that they knew their license was suspended, the court may find that that statement is sufficient evidence of notification. If a driver does not admit to knowing, the courts may still find that there was sufficient notice if the DMV or the court took the appropriate steps to send an official letter of suspension to the driver. This may be sufficient notice even if the driver never read or received the notice.

To find out if you were given legal notice, get a copy of your Virginia DMV record and contact a local traffic attorney immediately. This defense is one of the most common ways an attorney can protect you from a licensing charge.

Common Technical Defenses to Driving on Suspended or Revoked License in Virginia

Each form of licensing offense has slightly different defenses. To know whether you have a technical defense to licensing offense, you should ask yourself the following questions:

  • Was I on private property (such as a parking lot) when I was arrested or ticketed?
  • Was the vehicle not actually moving when the police saw me?
  • Was my license not actually suspended, revoked, or restricted?
  • Was I on a moped or another uncommon type of vehicle?

If the answer to any of those questions is yes, you may have a defense against your charges, depending on the circumstances and the actual charge. You should contact a traffic attorney immediately.

Getting Your License Back Before Trial

Many drivers who are charged with Driving on a Suspended License or Driving Without a Valid License may be in position to get their license back before their trial date. Getting your license reinstated before trial is usually good advice, but doing so can result in extra license reinstatement fees. Never assume you will be fine. Instead get a free consultation with an experienced local traffic attorney to find out what will likely happened in your situation.