Penalties, Punishment & Sentencing for...
California Vehicle Code 14601
Driving with a Suspended License

Our California "driving on a revoked or suspended license" criminal defense attorneys have local law offices in Ventura, Orange, and Riverside counties, as well as in all surrounding Southern California areas.

The following is a comprehensive guide to help you understand the penalties, punishments  and sentencing that you face if you're convicted of driving on a revoked or suspended California driver's license under any California Vehicle Code 14601 section.  In this article, our Los Angeles "revoked license attorneys" will review:

1. Driving on a Suspended or Revoked California Driver's License -- An Overview
2. Reckless, Negligent or Incompetent Driving -- California Vehicle Code 14601
3. Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol or Drugs -- California Vehicle Code 14601.2
4. Habitual Traffic Offenders -- California Vehicle Code 14601.3
5. Refusing to Submit to a Chemical Test or Driving with an Unlawful Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) -- California Vehicle Code 14601.5
6. License Suspensions or Revocations for Other Reasons -- California Vehicle
Code 14601.1
7. Can My Car be Impounded or Seized for Driving on a Suspended or Revoked License?
8. Are There Any Alternative Sentencing Options for 14601 V.C. Violations?

If you have additional questions or would like to discuss your case, please contact us at one of our local criminal law offices.

1. Driving on a Suspended or Revoked California Driver's License -- An Overview

California Vehicle Code sections 14601, 14601.1, 14601.2, 14601.3, and 14601.5 are all separate offenses that punish you for driving when you know that your California driver's license (CDL) has been suspended or revoked.  Even though each of these Vehicle Code sections is a misdemeanor, the actual penalty or sentence that you face will depend on the seriousness of the underlying offense that led to the suspended license charge.

Driving on a suspended or revoked license is a "priorable" offense which means that the penalties automatically increase with each subsequent conviction.  This sentencing rule applies across the board to all of the VC 14601 offenses.  In addition, the subsequent violation doesn't need to be for the exact same offense.it can be for any of the above mentioned violations that prohibit you from driving when you know your California driver's license has been revoked or suspended.

2. Reckless, Negligent or Incompetent Driving -- California Vehicle Code 14601

If you are convicted for driving on a suspended or revoked California driver's license due to reckless, negligent or incompetent driving under 14601 VC, you face the following sentencing and penalty:

  • 1st offense
    • Informal probation for up to three years,
    • Five days to six months in the county jail, and
    • Between $300-$1,000 in fines

If you were originally charged with violating 14601.2 V.C. ...due to a drunk driving conviction ...and you are now pleading guilty or "no contest" to V.C. 14601, you will most likely be ordered to install a certified ignition interlock device (IID) for up to three years in any car that you own or drive.

3. Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol or Drugs -- California Vehicle Code 14601.2

If you are convicted for knowingly driving on a suspended or revoked California driver's license due to a D.U.I. conviction under V.C. 14601.2, you face the following penalties and sentencing:

  • 1st offense
    • Informal probation for up to three years,
    • Ten days to six months in the county jail,
    • Between $300-$1,000 in fines, and
    • Installation of a certified ignition interlock device

If, you suffered (1) prior multiple DUI convictions, or (2) a conviction for vehicular manslaughter while you were driving under the influence, and (3) you were subsequently declared a Habitual Traffic Offender (HTO) under 14601.3 V.C., you additionally and consecutively face:

    • 180 days in the county jail, and
    • A $2,000 fine if you are convicted of this section
  • 2nd offense (within five years of another VC 14601, 14601.1, 14601.2, or 14601.5 conviction)
    • Informal probation for up to three years,
    • Thirty days to one year in the county jail,
    • Between $500-$2,000 in fines, and
    • Installation of an IID
    • As noted above, if you were previously declared a HTO, you face the same additional and consecutive sentence of
      • 180 days in the county jail, and
      • A $2,000 fine




4. Habitual Traffic Offenders -- California Vehicle Code 14601.3

If you are declared a Habitual Traffic Offender (H.T.O.) under 14601.3 V.C., you face the following sentencing and punishment:

  • 1st offense
    • Informal probation for up to three years,
    • Thirty days in the county jail, and
    • A $1,000 fine
  • 2nd or subsequent offense (within seven years of another 14601.3 conviction)
    • Informal probation for up to three years,
    • 180 days in the county jail, and
    • A $2,000 fine
5. Refusing to Submit to a Chemical Test or Driving with an Unlawful Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) -- California Vehicle Code 14601.5

If you are convicted of knowingly driving on a revoked or suspended California driver's license due to refusing to submit to a chemical test or driving with an unlawful Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) under VC 14601.5, you face the following penalties and punishment:

  • 1st offense
    • Informal probation for up to three years, and
    • A maximum of six months in the county jail, and/or
    • Between $300-$1,000 in fines

Like California Vehicle Code section 14601 above, if you were originally charged with violating 14601.2 V.C. and you are now pleading guilty or "no contest" to this offense, you will most likely be ordered to install an IID for up to three years in any car that you own or drive.

6. License Suspensions or Revocations for Other Reasons -- California Vehicle Code 14601.1

14601.1 is a "catch-all" and prohibits you from knowingly driving on a revoked or suspended license for any reason that wasn't previously mentioned.  If convicted under section 14601.1 of the California Vehicle Code, you face the following sentencing:

  • 1st offense
    • Informal probation for up to three years, and
    • A maximum of six months in the county jail, and/or
    • Between $300-$1,000 in fines

As with California Vehicle Code section 14601 (reckless, negligent or incompetent driving) and VC 14601.5 (regarding refusals and unlawful BACs), if you were originally charged with driving on a suspended or revoked California driver's license following a DUI conviction under 14601.2 V.C. ...and you are now pleading guilty or "no contest" to this offense...you will most likely be ordered to install an IID for up to three years in any car that you own or drive.

7. an My Car be Impounded or Seized for Driving on a Suspended or Revoked License Under VC 14601?

Unfortunately, the answer is yes.  There are a variety of California Vehicle Code sections that permit the state to impound or seize your car for knowingly driving while your privilege to drive in California has been revoked or suspended.  Whether your car is impounded or permanently seized will depend on the actual charged violation and on whether you have prior 14601 VC convictions.

For a first offense, your car can be impounded for a maximum of six months, although thirty days is more typical.  For a second or subsequent offense, your car can be impounded for up to one year.  If you're a "repeat offender" and the judge doesn't think you're getting the message, your vehicle could be subject to forfeiture as a "nuisance".
8. Are There Any Alternative Sentencing Options for 14601 V.C. Violations?

Yes.  And no.  Alternative sentencing is just that.an alternative to a jail or prison sentence.  With respect to knowingly driving on suspended or revoked driver's licenses, alternative options do exist.  The most common among them include community service, house arrest, work-release and Cal-Trans roadside work.

However, if the court grants you probation on a California Vehicle Code 14601or 14601.2 violation, you must serve the mandatory minimum jail sentence that may be imposed in connection with that section before these alternatives will come into play...which is why the answer is yes and no.

California suspended or revoked driver's license violations under Vehicle Code sections 14601, 14601.1, 14601.2, 14601.3 and 14601.5 are intricate and complex.  As Michael Scafiddi, one of San Bernardino's top "driving on a suspended license" criminal attorneys puts it, "because of the technical nature of VC 14601 offenses, people are often falsely accused of violating these sections.  It's my job to critically look at the accusation in order to fight against it".

If you or someone you love has been arrested for driving on a suspended license in California, we invite you to contact us at one of our local law offices conveniently located in Rancho Cucamonga, Van Nuys, Long Beach, and in all surrounding areas.

Additional Resources:

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

Alcoholics Anonymous-
Offers free, nondenominational classes and other resources to help alcoholics achieve sobriety

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