Driving while License Suspended (DWLS) in Florida
Driving while License Suspended (DWLS) is one of the most common criminal charges in Florida's court system.
However, it is also a charge that lawyers frequently resolve incorrectly because they do not take the time to develop a proper defense. Instead, and to make a quick buck, many lawyers simply advise clients to plead to a "withhold and small fine."
But what they don't tell you is:
- The plea counts as a conviction under Florida law;
- The Florida DHSMV could revoke your driving privileges under the Habitual Traffic Offender Statute for five years as a result of the plea;
- You could be charged with a Felony if you are arrested for DWLS a subsequent time;
- You might qualify for an Administrative Resolution under Florida Statutes!
Driving on a Suspended Driver's License Defense
Essentially there are three elements that we must challenge the State on when fighting a DWLS charge:
Was Your License Suspended?
You would think this would be simple to prove, however the Florida DHSMV makes mistakes and very frequently shows a valid driver's license as being suspended.
Under no circumstances should an erroneous driving record that falsely reflects your driving status be the basis for a DWLS conviction. If we can show your license was valid, we can likely move for dismissal.
Did you Know of the Suspension?
Your actual knowledge of the status of your license is one of the most important, and most litigated, issues surrounding a DWLS charge.
In the absence of an admission that you actually knew your license was suspended, the State is required to prove that you received actual notice that your licenses was suspended. So unless the notice is in writing and you signed the notice, knowledge of the suspension is virtually impossible for them to prove.
Were you Driving on a Florida Highway?
Finally, even if you knew your license was suspended and admitted to the knowledge, the State must also prove you were driving on a Florida Highway. And while uncommon, there are certain roadways and areas that are not consider part of Florida's highways. If you have a unique circumstance, such as being arrested in a construction zone, a gated community, or on private land we may be able to argue you were not on Florida's highways!
Administrative Resolution to a DWLS
There is a seldom used administrative resolution available to resolve a DWLS. This administrative option is one of the most under-utilized and least understood options for resolving DWLS charges.
I will first review your driver's record and determine if you qualify. If you do qualify, I will enter petition the court and the clerk of court to resolve the case under the administrative rule. If my petition is granted, you will enter a written plea of nolo contendere, pay minimum court costs, and the resolution will not count as a conviction under Florida law and the Florida DHSMV cannot use it towards designating you as a Habitual Traffic Offender.
Contact Criminal Defense Attorney Richard Hornsby
The initial consultation is free and I am always available to advise you on the proper course of action that can be taken.