Virginia Traffic Lawyer &
Fairfax Criminal Defense Attorney Explains:
Driving while license, permit, or privilege to drive suspended or revoked
The Code of Virginia 46.2-301
Other License Issues and Traffic-Related Law Pages
Driving without a license (46.2-300)
Driving after license forfeiture (Revoked after DWI) (18.2-272)
Will my license be revoked or suspended? (following conviction)
Fairfax County (and Virginia) Reckless Driving Laws
Crimes involving license issues can be difficult to understand. We understand this, as well as how important it is to most people who drive to retain their license, if possible. We cover some of the most frequently charged license-related offenses on our site, and if this page is not applicable to you or your charge, you may wish to visit one of the pages above this paragraph.
If your case is to be heard in Fairfax County, then you can find helpful information here, our Fairfax County Traffic Court information page. On this page, our Fairfax criminal defense attorney and Virginia traffic lawyer discusses Virginia Code § 46.2-301…an offense that is fairly common in Fairfax County.
Our Fairfax criminal lawyer analyzed a sample of publicly reported arrests. Of 815 arrests in Fairfax County in the given period, 86 of those arrests resulted from an alleged violation of the law we discuss on this page: Driving while one’s license is suspended or revoked. But note: driving after license forfeiture following specific offenses (DWI being the most common), is a different offense.
Penalties Explained by our Virginia Traffic Lawyer and Fairfax Criminal Defense Attorney
Just like many violations involving the operation of a motor vehicle, the criminal record of the accused plays a significant role in determining potential repercussions and applicable penalties. If you were charged with driving while your license is revoked and it is due to a DWI conviction, you should check your Virginia Uniform Summons to ensure you are reading the correct page. You may want to read this page, if your ticket includes the Code Section 18.2-272.
If a person is charged with driving while their license is suspended or revoked pursuant to 46.2-301, then they face either a criminal Class 1 misdemeanor, with the possibility of an enhanced penalty.
First or Second Offense: Class 1 Misdemeanor Penalty
The authorized maximum penalty for a standard Class 1 misdemeanor in Virginia is:
- up to 12 months in jail; and/or
- a fine in the amount of $2,500.
Whether or not a judge will sentence a charged person to the maximum by law depends upon many factors. Please ask for a free case evaluation if charged with any offense, whether it be a misdemeanor or felony.
In some situations, is is rare for a judge to impose a maximum sentence. For example, consider this hypothetical scenario:
a reckless driving charge is considered a Class 1 misdemeanor. But a driver with a relatively clean record alleged to have been speeding slightly over the “reckless driving” threshold…82 mph in a 70 mph zone…the Class 1 misdemeanor maximum penalties, while possible, are unlikely (from what our Virginia traffic lawyer and Fairfax criminal defense attorney has seen).
On the other hand, a person who is charged with reckless driving and who has a lengthy driving and/or criminal record, or who is accused of speeding significantly above the reckless threshold…120 mph in a 50 mph zone…would stand a greater chance, if convicted, of receiving a sentence closer to the statutory maximums.
But because driving with a revoked or suspended license in Virginia is a criminal offense, we recommend any person faced with a charge to take it seriously and consult with a licensed attorney near you. A criminal arrest or conviction will stay on an adult’s criminal record for life, which can bring about serious job-related consequences. In addition to the penalties above, a driver may suffer suspended or revoked driving privileges for an even longer period of time.
Third or Subsequent Offense: Class 1 Misdemeanor + Mandatory Jail Time
While a first or second violation of this law will result in a Class 1 misdemeanor…and while a conviction could potentially result in the punishments applicable to all Class 1 misdemeanor convictions…a third offense could lead to a mandatory minimum period of active confinement in prison for 10 days.
For this increased penalty to be applicable, however, the three offenses must have occurred with the same 10 year period. Additionally, the 10 day enhanced mandatory minimum would not apply in a case where a person was found to have been operating the motor vehicle:
in “a situation of apparent extreme emergency which requires such operation to save life or limb.” i
90 Days Suspended License and Vehicle Impoundment
Regardless of offense number, a conviction will result in a period of suspension for an addition period of time. If that person’s suspension or revocation was not for a specific period of time, then, the court may apply an additional suspension period for up to 90 days.
Depending on a number of factors, including the underlying reason for the invalidity of a person’s license, driving while one’s license is suspended or revoked could lead to impoundment for additional time (sometimes, up to 90 days). Talk to our Virginia traffic lawyer (located in Fairfax) serving much of the Northern Virginia area, for a case evaluation.
Restricted License Possible
If someone is eligible for a restricted license – typically sought by those who wish to maintain the ability to legally drive to and from work and other important places – then he or she can petition the court for an authorized restricted license in some cases. That said, there are some hurdles one must get past, including the authorization from every court which issued a previous license suspension to begin with.
Special Treatment: Mopeds
Although mopeds are often subject to the same rules governing all other motorized vehicles in the Commonwealth, in some instances, they are not. For example, the law tells us: ii
For purposes of this section, the phrase “motor vehicle or any self-propelled machinery or equipment” shall not include mopeds.
[i] § 46.2-301(C). Driving while license, permit, or privilege to drive suspended or revoked.
[ii] § 46.2-301(B)