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Driving While Suspended in Fairfax County

If you have been charged with driving with a suspended license in Fairfax County, it is strongly recommended you appear in Court with a lawyer who regularly appears in traffic court.  Unlike a simple speeding ticket that is prepayable, driving while suspended is a misdemeanor that requires your attention.  It is a charge that is easily overlooked and one that has serious consequences as a conviction.  We offer a Free Consultation to discuss your case.  Give us a call at 703-273-4100 or use the contact form below.  


Driving while your license is suspended is a Class 1 Misdemeanor.  This means that in some cases you can go to jail for driving on a suspended license.  The charge is governed by Virginia Code §46.2-301 which dictates that no resident or nonresident may drive on the highways of the Commonwealth who is suspended, revoked, or otherwise forbidden to drive.  It is a very common charge in Fairfax County that many people find themselves with due to the DMV and court procedures that govern it.  A person's license can be suspended by the DMV or by the Court.  The problem arises when a person drives after their license is suspended and is stopped by the police.  Police have very little discretion in these cases when they determine a driver's license is suspended.  We have had many clients call us because they got caught driving with a suspended driver's license.  Many needed to drive to work to provide for themselves and their families.  While this is certainly a mitigating factor it's not a charge that an individual should put to chance and represent themselves hoping that a Judge dismisses or reduces it in court. 


Driving While Suspended is a Class 1 Misdemeanor which means that a person faces a punishment of up to 12 months in jail and a fine of $2500.  A conviction for driving while suspended will also result in a loss of 6 points on the Virginia driving record and will likewise remain on that record for 11 years. Unfortunately, it will remain as a criminal conviction for a lifetime. Insurance rates, employment issues, and security issues are other complications that may result from a driving while suspended conviction.

In addition, there is the likelihood of a further license suspension.  The law requires the Judge to suspend the person's license or privilege for the same period in which it was previously suspended.  This means if the license was suspended for 6 months, the person gets caught driving during that time, the Judge must suspend the license for an additional 6 months.  If there was no definite suspension period then the Judge has the authority to suspend for up to 90 days.  In this case we have seen Judges both suspend licenses for the full 90 days and others issue no additional suspension depending on the case.

Punishment for driving on a suspended license will depend on the reason for the suspension, prior driving record, and if the person has been convicted before of driving on a suspended license.  In most cases a first offense does not carry jail time but will typically result in a further license suspension and fine.  However, a second offense or more of driving while suspended brings a real possibility of a jail sentence and lengthier license suspension.   



Excessive point accumulation can result in DMV suspending your privilege to drive in Virginia.  Upon conviction for a traffic offense, the court sends an abstract of the conviction to the DMV.  The DMV will then post the conviction on your driving record and assign demerit points in accordance with the severity of the offense.  If a person accumulates 18 demerit points within 12 months or 24 demerit points within 24 months the DMV will suspend the license for 90 days. 


Virginia law requires carrying liability insurance upon registering a motor vehicle with the DMV.  However, DMV will suspend your driving privilege if the insurance policy information is not submitted to them or there is a break in insurance policy coverage and the vehicle license plates are not returned to the DMV.

The key in this instance is to get properly insured and provide proof to the DMV so that the suspension can be lifted prior to court.  In most cases this is an easy fix unless there is an accident involved which can make matters more complicated.


If child support obligations are not satisfied the Division of Child Support Enforcement will notify the DMV.  This occurs when a person is late on making child support payments by 90 days or reach an amount of $5,000 in arrearages.   The DMV will then suspend the driver's license.


In certain instances the DMV can require you to complete a eight-hour driver improvement clinic.  If the clinic is not completed within 90 days the DMV will suspend your driver's license until it is completed.


When the VA DMV gets notified that a person has a medical situation involving motor functions, seizures, vision changes, or impaired judgment the DMV will require that they meet with a medical provider to review their health status.  The provider will then need to submit DMV-approved forms to the DMV to review so they can determine if the individual is fit to drive.  In many cases this “medical review” occurs following a traffic stop where a police officer has concerns of an individual's ability to drive safely and sends a medical form to the DMV stating such.  If this not addressed with a medical provider DMV can suspend the person's privilege to drive.  However, in cases where there is evidence of a seizure or blackout, the DMV will automatically suspend the person's license for 6 months from the date of the last episode.  Upon expiration of the 6 months the DMV will review to ensure the person is seizure-free (and that they're on the appropriate medication).


If you have been suspended by the Courts for driving while suspended then any driving during that suspension would be considered, again, driving while suspended.  This charge is problematic because a Judge will take the position you didn't learn from the Court's prior punishment.



Notice – In accordance with Bibb v. Commonwealth, 212 Va. 249 (Va., 1971) and its progeny, the Commonwealth must prove that the individual accused of driving while suspended received “actual notice” of the suspension.  For example, if an individual is suspended for a lapse in vehicle insurance but never received notice of the suspension then they are driving while suspended without knowing they are suspended.  This is known as an affirmative defense to driving on a suspended license and the Judge must find you not guilty.

How to GET YOUR driver's LICENSE BACK when suspended

Getting your driver's license back prior to court is the best way to handle a driving on a suspended license case in Fairfax County.  By showing the Judge or Prosecutor that you are now reinstated most of these charges can be dismissed or at least reduced.  

To get your license reinstated it's best to get a copy of your compliance summary from the DMV.  This document will tell you what you need to do to be in good standing with DMV.  Completing the action items is how you can get your driver's license back.  In many cases you will also need to pay a reinstatement fee.  There are many times when our client's court date is arriving before they can get their license back.  Judges are very good at giving people some extra time by continuing their court date so the person can get their license prior to court. 


If the Commonwealth cannot prove notice, the charge should be dismissed by the court.

If the individual has obtained their license back from suspension and is in good standing with DMV, the court may dismiss the charge.

The court may also reduce the charge to the lesser offense of driving without a valid operator's license under §46.2-300.

The court may also reduce the charge to the lesser offense of failing to possess their driver's license under §46.2-104.  This result is preferable as it is considered a non-moving violation and is a $10 fine.

If the court finds you guilty of driving while suspended and gives you a fine, be sure it did not also suspend your privilege to drive.  The statute requires that the court suspend the individual's privilege to drive for the same period for which it had been previously suspended or revoked or for 90 days if the current suspension period has no definite ending date.  Note that many Judges will suspend an individual's privilege to drive in Virginia for 90 days if they convict the individual of driving while suspended.


If you are represented by a lawyer, your court appearance will be different than those without a lawyer. For example, in Fairfax County, your lawyer will “pass the case” which means the Judge will not call your name during the docket. Instead, your file will be on the prosecutor's desk and the Judge will only call those individuals representing themselves pro se. The prosecutor will then speak with the officer's, witnesses, and victims, if any, of those cases where the Defendant is represented by a lawyer. Once the prosecutor has done so, your lawyer will then have an opportunity to speak with the prosecutor to get discovery (essentially, what their evidence is). During that time, your lawyer will also attempt work out a favorable resolution for your case. This is the time in which your lawyer will present mitigating evidence to the prosecutor, such as your newly “unsuspended driver's license,” your driving record reflecting you did not receive actual notice of the suspension, etc.

Once your lawyer has spoken to the prosecutor, they will come get you from the courtroom and you will discuss the plea offer that has been made. Some prosecutors are more lenient than others and offer better plea bargains than others. In the event you are offered a plea bargain that does not suit your expectations, your lawyer will have one of two options: (i) ask the court to continue the case to the officer's next traffic date (they're preset), or (ii) go to trial.

In Fairfax County, Prince William County, and Loudoun County, they have trial advisement and plea forms that must be signed in the event you and lawyer have worked out a plea bargain with the prosecutor. The plea form will set forth the charge and the agreement. The client must read the form carefully and ask their lawyer any questions before signing it. In driving while suspended cases, generally, it's fairly straight forward. Presumably, a good deal would be a dismissal as complied (i.e. the person got their license back), reduction from driving while suspended to driving without a valid operator's license, or some other minor traffic infraction, with a fine. If signed and agreed, your lawyer would then hand up the plea form to the Judge for them to execute the plea agreement. At that point, the Judge is merely a scrivener of sorts and incorporates the plea agreement in the file. In driving while suspended cases, the presiding Judge will typically “strike” the driving while suspended charge by crossing it out on the summons or warrant and insert whatever reduced charge has been worked out if the charge is not dismissed outright. The clerk will then update the Virginia Case Information System accordingly.

We always recommend people appear in court with a lawyer. At the Letnick Law Firm, we have had the privilege of hearing our clients say how much easier we made it for them when they hired us as their lawyer. They don't have to say anything to the officer or Judge and they know they have an experienced lawyer working for them.


We offer a no obligation Free Initial Consultation to discuss your driving while suspended case. You can either come in for an in-office appointment or do a telephone conference. We will talk about the facts of your case, whether any mitigating evidence is necessary, the price for the representation, and the next steps. While each case is different, our fees are reasonable. We like being in court and enjoy helping people. We can help you too.

Finding the Best Driving While Suspended Lawyer is vitally important to your case. There are thousands of lawyers in the Northern Virginia area but only a handful can properly handle your case.  You will want a lawyer who regularly appears in traffic court.  Certainly, you would not want to hire a civil lawyer to handle your traffic case. Traffic lawyers are generally in court everyday and appear in front of the same judges and prosecutors on a consistent basis. This relationship with the court is not established when an attorney appears in court once a month.

The best way to find the best lawyer for your case is to do your research and meet with the lawyers you're considering. Make sure they answer all of your questions and make sure that they consistently represent people on such cases. Driving While Suspended is a serious traffic misdemeanor and the case should be handled by a competent attorney.  We regularly handle driving while suspended charges in the Fairfax County Courthouses including the Fairfax County General District Court, Fairfax City General District Court, Town of Herndon Court, and Town of Vienna Court.

The truth about your case

We will not “sugar coat.” We will tell you exactly what you are facing and will give you the best and worst case scenarios. We are not here to scare you or to pull the wool over your eyes. We find many people calling us for a simple case where they have spoken to other lawyers and are now afraid. However, after speaking with those people and getting the facts, many times there is nothing to fear. We will tell you how things look and we will tell you the truth because we want happy clients. That’s you!

Letnick Law Office
(703) 273-4266 (fax)
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