California Vehicle Code 14601 VC
Driving on a Suspended License

The "Knowledge" and "Notice" Requirements

Our California "driving on a suspended license" criminal defense lawyers have local law offices in San Bernardino, Riverside, Los Angeles, and all surrounding counties.

California Vehicle Code sections 14601(a), 14601.1(a), 14601.2 (a), 14601.3, 14601.4(a), and 14601.5(a) all pertain to driving in California on a suspended or revoked license.  The penalties and punishments associated with California Vehicle Code 14601 violations may include probation, heavy fines and jail time.  But before you can be convicted of any of these California misdemeanor charges, it must be proven that you were driving with the knowledge that you weren't permitted to do so.

By addressing the following, our Ventura "suspended license" defense attorneys will explain how the prosecution will try to prove.and your attorney will defend against.the type of "knowledge" relevant to these driving-related California crimes:

1. What is "Knowledge" Under California Vehicle Code 14601?
2. How Do Prosecutors Prove That I "Knew" My California Driver's License Was Revoked or Suspended?

2.1. Notice via 1st Class Mail Service

2.1. Notice via Personal Service

3. How Do I Fight the Notice Requirement for Driving on a Suspended / Revoked License Under California Vehicle Code 14601 and its Related Sections?

If after reading this article you have additional questions or would like to confidentially discuss your case, we invite you to directly contact us at one of our many criminal law offices conveniently located throughout Southern California.

1. What is "Knowledge" Under California Vehicle Code 14601?

There are several ways for prosecutors to prove that you "knew" your privilege to drive in California was revoked or suspended.and just as many ways for a Rancho Cucamonga criminal defense lawyer who specializes in driving-related offenses to rebut this "knowledge".

Before you can be found guilty of driving on a revoked or suspended license under any 14601 section of the California Vehicle Code, the prosecuting agency must prove 2 facts (otherwise known as "elements"):

  1. You drove while your California driver's license (CDL) was suspended or revoked, and
  2. You knew your California driver's license was suspended or revoked at the time you drove.

Since the first element is pretty self-explanatory, let's explore the second.

2. How Do Prosecutors Prove That I "Knew" My California Driver's License Was Revoked or Suspended?

In order to prove that you "knew" your CDL was suspended or revoked, the prosecuting agency will attempt to prove one of two facts:  (1) that you were served with "notice" of your suspension / revocation in the mail, or (2) that you were given "notice" of your revoked or suspended license in person.

California law presumes that you had notice.and therefore knowledge.of the suspension or revocation of your driver's license if

  1. The California DMV mailed you notice via 1st class mail,
  2. An officer personally served you with a "notice of suspension" form, or
  3. Your license was suspended or revoked by a California Superior Court Judge when you appeared in court.

Although there are defenses that a Burbank "driving on a revoked license" defense attorney could argue with respect to number three above -- for example, that you struggle with a language barrier or suffer from a loss of hearing -- it is the first and second types of notice that require further explanation.

2.1. Notice of Your California License Revocation or Suspension via 1st Class Mail

With respect to any California Vehicle Code 14601 violation, it will be presumed that you knew your driving privilege was revoked or suspended if the California DMV sent you notice of the revocation or suspension via first-class mail to
  1. The most recent address that the DMV has on file, or
  2. A more recent address reported by you, the court, or any law enforcement agency (for example, the address you list on a "ticket" or accident report), and
  3. The mail wasn't returned to the DMV as undelivered or unclaimed.
This means that if the prosecuting agency can show (typically through the testimony of a DMV employee or with DMV records) that the above steps were followed, the judge/jury may.but are not required to.conclusively determine that you knew your privilege to drive was suspended or revoked.  It is therefore up to you and your Orange County "driving on a suspended license" criminal attorney to dispute that evidence in order to prove your innocence.

2.2. Personal Service by an Officer Telling You That Your California Driver's License Has Been Suspended or Revoked

When an officer personally revokes or suspends your license (in connection with a California drunk driving arrest or other violation specified in VC 14601.5), he/she must:
  1. Serve you with a notice that your driving privilege has been suspended,
  2. Confiscate your California driver's license (if you have it in your possession),
  3. Issue you, on behalf of the California Department of Motor Vehicles (D.M.V.), a temporary driver's license which is valid for 30 days, and
  4. Forward a copy of the completed "notice" form and your driver's license to the DMV within five business days.
If the officer failed to perform any of these steps, your Torrance "revoked license" criminal lawyer would argue that the service of your notice was unlawful.which therefore defeats the "presumption of knowledge".
How Do I Fight the Notice Requirement for Driving on a Suspended / Revoked License Under California Vehicle Code 14601 and its Related Sections?

The following are examples of how a Palm Springs "suspended license" criminal attorney would challenge the "presumption of knowledge" by arguing ineffective notice / service.

  • With respect to mailed notice-
Bob was pulled over for speeding.  When Pasadena Police looked up his CDL, the officer discovered that Bob's license was suspended due to a California reckless driving conviction he suffered 10 months ago.

Bob, unaware that his license was suspended, gave the officer his latest address (where he had lived for about a year and a half).  The DMV, however, mailed his notice of suspension (under 14601(a) VC) to a previous address that Bob had on record--but where he no longer resided.  Bob's Pasadena "suspended license" criminal defense lawyer would argue that Bob didn't know he was driving on a suspended license, since he never actually received the notice of suspension.as it was delivered to his old address.
  • With respect to an officer's personal service-
Knowledge is only "presumed" if the officer follows all of the steps outlined above.  If he/she doesn't, it could invalidate your 14601 VC arrest.
John Murray, one of L.A.'s top criminal defense attorneys points out, "People are routinely falsely arrested for California driving offenses.  When police don't follow proper procedures, arrests can be nullified and citizens vindicated."
  • With respect to driving once the suspension ends-
Sally, who was pulled over by the Beverly Hills Police for "rolling a stop sign", was arrested for driving on a suspended license that resulted from a California DUI conviction.  Sally thought that her license had been reinstated because (1) the timeframe for which it was originally suspended.one year.had elapsed, and (2) she had completed her court-ordered AB541 alcohol program.
Sally's Beverly Hills criminal defense attorney would probably be able to convince the Beverly Hills City Attorney either to reduce or dismiss the V.C. section 14601 charge because Sally (1) completed her AB 541 program, (2) possessed proof of insurance, and (3) it had been over one year since the suspension was ordered.
  • That being said, in order to have your license returned at the end of its suspension, you must
  1. Prove that you have met all of the requirements that the DMV set forth when your privilege to drive was suspended (typically that you've paid all fees and that you have auto insurance), and/or
  2. Prove to the court that you completed all of your probation requirements (typically that you've paid all your fees, successfully completed a court-approved DUI school, and that you have vaid auto insurance).

The penalties for driving on a suspended or revoked license in California are stiff and may include a mandatory county jail sentence, heavy fines, the installation of an ignition interlock device (IID), and possible seizure of your car, depending on which section you have been charged with.

A skilled California lawyer who specializes in driving crimes is the key to securing a favorable result when facing a California driver's license violation.  If your California driving privilege has been revoked or suspended, and you've been arrested for a 14601 V.C. violation, we invite you to contact us at one of our local criminal law offices to confidentially discuss your case.

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If you or loved one is charged with Vehicle Code 14601 VC driving on a suspended license and you are looking to hire an attorney for representation, we invite you to contact us at Shouse Law Group. We can provide a free consultation in office or by phone. We have local offices in Los Angeles, the San Fernando Valley, Pasadena, Long Beach, Orange County, Ventura, San Bernardino, Rancho Cucamonga, Riverside, San Diego, Sacramento, Oakland, San Francisco, San Jose and throughout California.

Additional Resource:

California Department of Motor Vehicles-
Includes publications about driving offenses and penalties and offers access to the California Vehicle Code.

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