I GOT ARRESTED FOR DRIVING WHILE MY LICENSE IS SUSPENDED, WILL I GO TO JAIL?
Many motorists are shocked when they first go to court and are informed that Driving on a Suspended License (DWLS) is a Class A Misdemeanor for a first offense. A Class A Misdemeanor is punishable up to 1 year in jail, a $2500 fine and up to 2 years of probation. A motorist could be suspended for a wide range of reasons and not even realize it. Failing to pay a traffic fine, receiving three traffic convictions in a year, or failing to pay child support could all cause a motorist’s license to be suspended. Unfortunately, to be found guilty of Driving While License Suspended, the prosecutor only needs to prove that a motorist was driving or in actual physical control of a motor vehicle on a public roadway while his license was suspended. The Statute does not require that the motorist actually have to know he was suspended in order to be guilty of DWLS.
The penalties for Driving on a Suspended License typically get worse depending on how many previous violations a person has and whether they are suspended or revoked due to a DUI, Aggravated Battery on a Police Officer, or Reckless Homicide. For example, under the Driving While License Suspended statute, 625 Illinois Compiled Statutes 5/6-303, any person convicted of a third or subsequent offense that was not suspended due to a DUI or similar crime shall be sentenced to a minimum of 30 actual days in jail or 300 community service hours.
If you have never been charged with Driving While License Suspended before it may be possible for my office to work out a deal that does not involve you being incarcerated or affecting your driving record. However, if you are convicted of Driving While License Suspended, the length of your suspension will be extended. If you have already reinstated your driving privileges and subsequently receive a conviction for Driving While License Suspended, your license will be re-suspended. Further, if you have a prior DWLS violation and you are caught driving on a suspended license when you are suspended or revoked for a DUI it is a felony and you could be sentenced up to 3 years in the Illinois Department of Corrections and fined up to $25,000.00.
Due to the fact that the penalties for DWLS/DWLR escalate dramatically with subsequent violations of the law, it is highly recommended you contact an experienced attorney who can protect you and your rights, explain the court process, explain collateral consequences and try and achieve a result with the least possible punishment. Due to the fact that the prosecution need only prove that the motorist was driving or in actual physical control of a motor vehicle on a public roadway at a time when his license was suspended or revoked; it is a difficult charge to defend. Because of the strong possibility of incarceration and unknown collateral consequences it is highly recommended that you consult with an attorney.