Paris Hilton provides a notable example of driving with no license

The case of heiress Paris Hilton provides a notable example of just what can happen if you drive with a suspended license. Driving in California, as in all other states, is a privilege, not a right. If the person commits certain offenses, the right to hold a driver’s license may be revoked. Revocation means that the person’s privilege to drive a vehicle is terminated for a period of time, after which a new driver’s license must be obtained. The license may be revoked either by a court or by the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).

The crime of driving with a suspended or revoked driving privilege in California is treated differently depending on why your license was suspended or revoked in the first place. In Hilton’s case, she had violated the terms of her parole on a DUI conviction. She was ultimately sentenced to 45 days in jail for violating the terms of her probation by repeatedly driving with a suspended license. In California, driving on a suspended license offenses are criminal misdemeanor crimes, subjecting you to possible county jail time (as Paris well knows) and substantial fines.

Driving without a license versus driving with a suspended or revoked license

Driving without a license is a different offense when compared with driving with a suspended or revoked license. If you were validly licensed at the time you were pulled over (licenses from other states may be acceptable) but simply did not have it in your possession, this infraction may be dismissed if you can demonstrate this fact at your hearing. It is well worthwhile to prove you have a valid license because driving without a valid driver’s license is considered a criminal offense, not just a mere traffic infringement. California Vehicle Code makes driving without a license a criminal misdemeanor.

Suspended or revoked licenses are covered in Sections 14601-14611 of the Vehicle Code and penalties for driving with a suspended or revoked license are more severe than for driving without a license. Penalties may include a fine of not less than $300 or greater than $1000, possible jail time, with a higher maximum sentence period. First time offenders may be subject to jail periods of not less than 5 days or not greater than 6 months and subsequent repeat convictions will lead to increased penalties.

Daniel R. Perlman
The Law Offices of Daniel R. Perlman