Driving on a suspended license may not seem like a big deal, but it’s a criminal offense that carries costly penalties in Arizona. In addition to lengthening your license suspension, driving on a suspended license carries the following potential penalties:
- Impounding your vehicle for up to 30 days
- A fine of up to $2,500
- A jail sentence of up to six months
- A probation period of up to three years
Whether you’re heading around the corner to the grocery store, driving a few blocks to pick up your kids from school, or simply trying to get to work on time, driving on a suspended license isn’t a risk worth taking.
What Charges Result in a Suspended License in Arizona?
There are a number of offenses that can result in a suspended license in Arizona. Some of the most common examples include:
- Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs
- Driving without proper insurance
- Excessive points on your driving record
- Failure to complete Traffic Survival School
- Failure to pay a fine or appear in court
- Failure to stop and render aid when involved in a traffic accident
- Felony crimes committed in a vehicle
- Reckless or aggressive driving
- Providing a false statement to the Arizona MVD under oath
Criminal offenses aren’t the only factors that can result in a suspended license in Arizona. Drivers who are deemed medically unable to drive may have their driver’s license suspended or revoked.
Penalties for Driving on a Suspended License in Arizona
Under ARS 28-3473, driving on a suspended license is a class 1 misdemeanor in Arizona. Possible penalties for a class 1 misdemeanor include a maximum fine of $2,500, a maximum jail sentence of six months, and a probation period of up to three years. Law enforcement may also impound your vehicle for up to 30 days.
Note that these are maximum sentencing options, not minimum guidelines. Few cases of driving on a suspended license actually result in a jail sentence, though you may spend 24-48 hours in jail when you’re initially arrested.
Civil fines vary from case to case, but the average fine for driving without a license in Arizona is about $500.
Though it’s not a civil penalty, you should expect your auto insurance premium to increase, too. In some cases, your insurance company may even cancel your policy. Given the long-term effects of increased premiums, this is often the most costly part of getting caught driving on a suspended license.
Legal Defenses Against a Charge of Driving on a Suspended License
Charges of driving with a suspended license are notoriously difficult to defend against in court. With the help of an experienced attorney, you could consider one of the following legal defenses:
- Your license was not actually suspended
- Your license was unlawfully suspended
- You were unaware that your license was suspended
- You were not driving a motor vehicle (i.e. a small-engine motor scooter)
- You were not operating the motor vehicle
- There was an emergency that required driving to protect someone’s health and safety
In some cases, your best bet may be to minimize the penalties rather than directly fight the charge. You can accomplish this by:
- Paying any outstanding traffic tickets and civil fines
- Resolving any outstanding warrants
- Reaching a plea agreement with the prosecutor
You should always consult your case with an experienced attorney before determining an appropriate legal strategy.
FAQs About Driving On A Suspended License In Arizona
How long does a suspended license stay on your record in Arizona?
In Arizona, traffic points and license suspensions remain on your driving record for 12 months. In many cases, successfully completing Traffic Survival School can wipe your record clean even sooner.
What happens if I get caught driving on a suspended license in Arizona?
When you’re caught driving on a suspended license in Arizona, you may be arrested and taken to jail. In many cases, however, it’s more likely that the police officer will issue a citation to appear in court and impound your car.
Is driving on a suspended license a criminal offense in Arizona?
Driving on a suspended license is a class 1 misdemeanor in Arizona, so yes, it is a criminal offense. However, assuming you have a valid excuse, an experienced attorney should be able to have the charges against you lowered, dropped, or dismissed.
Is driving on a suspended license a felony in Arizona?
No, driving on a suspended license is not a felony in Arizona — it’s a class 1 misdemeanor.
How much jail time do you get for driving on a suspended license in Arizona?
Arizona law allows a maximum of six months in jail for driving on a suspended license. Repeat offenders may see a jail sentence, but most cases don’t result in incarceration. Civil fines and impounding your vehicle are the most common legal penalties.
What are the penalties for driving with a revoked license?
In Arizona, the consequences for driving with a revoked license are the same as penalties for driving on a suspended license: a fine of up to $2,500, up to six months in jail, up to three years of probation, and impounding your car for up to 30 days.
However, while the legal penalties are the same, the actual severity of the consequences is often worse for driving with a revoked license.
What To Do If You’re Charged With Driving On A Suspended License In Arizona
You don’t need an attorney to present your defense in court or to reach an agreement with the prosecutor, but retaining counsel is strongly advised. This is especially true if you plan to fight the charges in court, an endeavor that’s far more challenging than most people expect.
Before you negotiate a plea deal with the prosecutor or appear in court, schedule a consultation with a criminal defense attorney to discuss your case. An experienced attorney will determine the best strategy to have the charges against you lowered, dropped, or dismissed. If a conviction is imminent, your attorney will work with the prosecutor and judge to minimize the legal penalties and avoid jail time.
Call the JacksonWhite Criminal Law team at (480) 467-4370 to discuss your case today.