If an individual is charged with driving with a suspended or revoked license in Maryland, they face the potential of serious penalties and long term consequences. There are possible defenses to these charges however, and anyone facing these charges should consult a Maryland traffic lawyer to prepare a strong defense.
Prosecution of These Charges
In Maryland, to be convicted of driving on a suspended or revoked license, the driver must have knowledge of their license being suspended or revoked. They will know when they are pulled over that their license is suspended or revoked. This is actual knowledge and can’t be inferred. The defendant doesn’t necessarily have to admit to the police that they knew their license was suspended, but a judge is going to look at all the surrounding circumstances and decide if they knew or if they should have known through circumstantial evidence, but proving knowledge is on the burden of the prosecution. Sometimes, the court will infer that the driver had the knowledge because they did not have their license in possession and they should have known that is was suspended or revoked. The most common way for the prosecution to prove this is to show that the MVA mailed a letter to the driver informing them that their license was suspended or revoked. A possible defense to this claim is to insist that the individual changed their address or moved.
The MVA won’t have notice of this information unless the individual themselves sent a notice of an address change. If it can be proven that the MVA mailed out some type of letter, then the judge could infer knowledge.
Aggravating or Mitigating Factors
There are possible aggravating factors for driving with a suspended or revoked license. These include if the reason for the suspension or the revoked license is due to a DUI or if the suspension was because the person left the scene of an accident involving injuries or death. This would result in a higher sentence. A mitigating factor could be when a driver can prove that they had no knowledge of the fact that they were driving on a suspended or revoked license.
Penalties for Driving While Suspended
Driving suspended or on a revoked license is a misdemeanor crime. For suspended licenses, an individual can get up to 1 year in jail, up to a $1,000 fine, and up to 12 points on their driving record. With a revoked license, they can get up to 1 year in jail, up to a $1,000 fine, and 12 points on their record. Driving while revoked will result in the individual having a longer loss of driving privileges.
It is possible, but unlikely, that a first time offender will be sent to jail in Maryland. However, a lengthy jail sentence is a possibility for someone who is a repeat offender, especially if this person continues to drive while their license is suspended or revoked.
There would, most likely, be several points assessed on an individual’s license for these crimes and they would lose the privilege to drive for several months. A loss of driving privileges could result in a loss of a person’s job, especially if their job requires them to drive. For instance, if they are a truck driver, then they would probably lose their job, or if there is no other way for them to physically get to their place of employment, they may risk losing their job. Also, their insurance rates will increase and their insurance company might choose to drop them altogether. Even if they do not and their rates are just increased, it is going to be really expensive to drive when they are finally able to do so.
Building a Defense
In order to be convicted of this offense, the state must prove that the individual knew or should have known that they were suspended. One of the defenses to this was that they were not given any notice. Also, in order to be convicted, the state must prove that the traffic stop – if there was one – led to the officer’s discovery that they were suspended. A defense, then, is that the stop was not initiated for a valid reason and that the officer had no type of probable cause to stop them in the first place.
The law states that it is illegal to drive on a suspended license. If someone knows their license is suspended, another defense could be that they were not the one who was driving the vehicle.
Importance of a Local Maryland Lawyer
In these cases, an individual is facing very serious consequences and a Maryland lawyer will be able to present mitigating factors in order to get their charge dismissed or their penalties reduced. Also, it is the defense lawyer’s job to look for deficiencies in the state’s case and to bring those deficiencies to the attention of the judge.
This is a must-appear citation, so the charged individual must appear in court. This is a jailable traffic offense, because the maximum penalty includes potential jail time. The prosecutor must prove each element of the offense to the judge beyond a reasonable doubt, which means that the state must prove each and every element of the charge.