Driving With a Suspended License in Florida (Penalties & Defenses)

David Weisselberger | November 10, 2023

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Driving with a suspended license in Florida, commonly called DWLSR (Driving While License Suspended or Revoked), can have significant legal consequences. The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DHSMV) is responsible for regulating driver’s licenses within the state.

Violating the conditions of your driver’s license can lead to misdemeanor charges. This article explores the penalties related to DWLSR in Florida, shedding light on the gravity of the offense and its repercussions.

What Are Penalties for Driving With A Suspended License in Florida?

penalties for driving with a suspended license

Is driving with a suspended license a misdemeanor? DWLSR in Florida is categorized as a misdemeanor, which carries potential fines, jail time, and other legal consequences. The degree of these consequences can fluctuate based on the unique details of your situation and any prior DWLSR convictions on your record.

First Offense

For a first-time DWLSR offense in Florida, you may face:

  • Fines of up to $500.
  • Potential imprisonment for up to 60 days.

Subsequent Offenses

If you have multiple DWLSR convictions on your record, the penalties become more severe:

  • Second offense: Up to $1,000 in fines and up to one year in jail.
  • Third offense: Up to $5,000 in fines and up to five years in prison.

Impact on Your Driving Record and Insurance

Aside from fines and potential incarceration, a DWLSR conviction can result in lasting repercussions for your driving history and insurance costs. The DHSMV may assign points to your driving record, potentially causing higher insurance premiums or even insurance coverage suspension.

6 Reasons for License Suspension in Florida

License suspension in Florida can result from various factors, necessitating awareness to avoid driving with a suspended license and potential legal consequences. Common causes include:

Traffic Violations

Excessive points on your driving record due to traffic infractions can trigger license suspension when a specified threshold is reached.

DUI Offenses

DUI convictions typically lead to license suspension, with the duration contingent on the number of offenses and specific circumstances.

Failure to Pay Fines

Unsettled traffic fines, court fees, or related financial obligations stemming from traffic violations may result in suspension.

Habitual Traffic Offender

Designation as a Habitual Traffic Offender (HTO) in Florida can lead to a minimum five-year license suspension, often due to multiple DWLSR convictions or serious traffic transgressions.

Drug-Related Offenses

License suspension may follow convictions for drug offenses, particularly when a motor vehicle is involved.

Child Support Arrears

Falling behind on child support payments can prompt license suspension as part of enforcement measures.

Police Procedures for DWLS Investigations

Law enforcement follows established protocols when encountering a driver suspected of operating a vehicle with a suspended or revoked license.

Traffic Stop

Police officers typically initiate DWLS investigations by conducting a traffic stop. 

Verification

During the stop, officers will request the vehicle registration, driver’s license, and insurance details. They will then verify the driver’s identity and their license status through the DHSMV database.

Notification

If the officer discovers that the driver’s license is suspended or revoked, they will inform the driver of this status. The driver will be asked to get out of the vehicle.

Possible Arrest

Depending on the circumstances and the officer’s discretion, they may arrest the driver for DWLSR. If arrested, the driver may be taken into custody and invited to a local police station or jail.

Legal Rights During DWLS Investigations

It’s essential to know your rights when facing a DWLS investigation:

  • Remain Calm
  • Ask for Clarification
  • Exercise Your Right to Remain Silent

Contact an Expert Attorney

How Do You Get Around With A Suspended License?

When dealing with a suspended or revoked driver’s license in Florida, there are alternative transportation options to avoid legal issues

  • Public Transportation
  • Ridesharing Services
  • Carpooling
  • Bicycling or Walking
  • Temporary or Hardship License

How Long Can A License Be Suspended In Florida?

The duration of a license suspension in Florida varies depending on the reason for the suspension and the individual circumstances of each case. Here are some common scenarios and their corresponding suspension periods:

Traffic Violations

Suspension lasts from 30 days to one year, contingent on the issues earned.

DUI Offenses

  • First DUI conviction: License suspension for a minimum of 180 days up to one year.
  • Second DUI conviction within five years: License suspension for a minimum of five years.
  • Third or subsequent DUI conviction: License suspension for a minimum of ten years.

Habitual Traffic Offender (HTO)

Designation as an HTO leads to a minimum five-year license suspension.

Failure to Pay Fines

License suspension until fines and related fees are paid.

Drug-Related Offenses

Convictions related to drug offenses can lead to Florida drivers license suspension, the duration of which varies based on the case’s specific circumstances.

FAQ

What happens if you drive around with a suspended license?

DWLSR in Florida can lead to fines and potential jail time, contingent on your specific circumstances and prior DWLSR convictions.

Can you drive in Florida with a suspended license from another state?

You cannot legally drive in Florida with an out-of-state suspended or revoked license because Florida follows the Driver License Compact (DLC), an agreement among states to share information regarding license suspensions and traffic violations.

Can you get a license if your license is suspended in Florida?

If your Florida driver’s license is suspended, you must address the underlying issues and fulfill the requirements outlined by the Florida DHSMV to reinstate your license. 

How long does it take to reinstate a suspended license in Florida?

The time to reinstate a suspended license varies based on the reason for the Florida drivers license suspension and required actions. Contact your expert attorney now!

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