Driver’s licenses are essentially a necessity for most people living in Texas, and a person who is Driving While their License is Suspended can face an extraordinary number of problems without the ability to drive. It is not uncommon for some people to not realize their licenses were suspended until they are actually stopped by law enforcement officers in Tarrant County.

State law in Texas only allows failure to receive actual notice of a cancellation, suspension, revocation, or prohibition order relating to a person’s license as a defense against driving while license invalid charges in certain circumstances. While some driving while license suspended offenses are only Class C misdemeanors resulting in fines, it is important for people to understand that a guilty plea can have some major consequences.

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Driving While License Suspended Defense Lawyer in Fort Worth, Arlington, Grapevine, Keller, and Southlake, TX

Were you arrested for allegedly driving while your driver’s license was suspended or otherwise invalid in Fort Worth, Arlington, Grand Prairie, or another community in Tarrant County? It will be important for you to quickly seek legal representation so you can achieve the most favorable possible outcome in your case.

The Law Offices of Richard C. McConathy regularly defend individuals all over North Texas against a variety of traffic offenses. You can have us examine your case when you call (817) 422-5350 or contact us online to schedule a consultation.

Driving While License Suspended Charges in Tarrant County

A person can have their driver’s license suspended for a wide variety of reasons in Texas. Some of the most common reasons include, but are not limited to:

  • In crash suspension in which a person was involved in an automobile crash, the investigating officer lists contributing factors that indicate they were responsible, they did not have automobile insurance at the time of the crash, and the crash resulted in injury, death, and/or property damage of $1,000 or more
  • Driving while license is invalid (DWLI) suspension
  • Driving while intoxicated (DWI) conviction
  • Convictions for four or more moving traffic violations within a 12-month period, or seven or more moving traffic violations within a 24-month period.
  • Out-of-state traffic offenses and withdrawals
  • SR-22 insurance certificate requirements
  • Ignition interlock requirements
  • Failure to appear in court
  • Failure to pay fines
  • Certain medical conditions or disabilities
 

It is also important to note that minors can also have their driver’s licenses suspended for a number of other offenses besides DWI. Convictions for buying alcohol or attempts to buy alcohol, public drunkenness, possessing or consuming alcohol, or misrepresentation of ages using a fake ID can all lead to driver’s license suspensions.

Under Texas Transportation Code § 521.457(a), a person commits driving while license suspended offense if the person operates a motor vehicle on a highway:

  • after the person’s driver’s license has been canceled under this chapter if the person does not have a license that was subsequently issued under this chapter;
  • during a period that the person’s driver’s license or privilege is suspended or revoked under any law of this state;
  • while the person’s driver’s license is expired if the license expired during a period of suspension;  or
  • after the renewal of the person’s driver’s license has been denied under any law of this state, if the person does not have a driver’s license subsequently issued under this chapter.
 

Texas Transportation Code § 521.457(b) further states that a person commits an offense if the person is the subject of an order issued under any law of this state that prohibits the person from obtaining a driver’s license and the person operates a motor vehicle on a highway. Under Texas Transportation Code § 521.457(c), it is not a defense to prosecution under this section that the person did not receive actual notice of a suspension imposed as a result of a conviction for an offense under Texas Transportation Code § 521.341.

Texas Transportation Code § 521.341 is the section of state law dedicated to requirements for automatic license suspension. The statute provides that except as provided by Texas Transportation Code §§ 521.344(d)-(i), a license is automatically suspended on final conviction of the license holder of:

  • a criminally negligent homicide offense under Texas Penal Code § 19.05 committed as a result of the holder’s criminally negligent operation of a motor vehicle;
  • an evading arrest or detention offense under Texas Penal Code § 38.04 if the holder used a motor vehicle in the commission of the offense;
  • a DWI offense under Texas Penal Code § 49.04, DWI with child passenger offense under Texas Penal Code § 49.045, or intoxication manslaughter offense under Texas Penal Code § 49.08;
  • an intoxication assault offense under Texas Penal Code § 49.07, if the holder used a motor vehicle in the commission of the offense;
  • an offense punishable as a felony under the motor vehicle laws of this state;
  • an accident involving personal injury or death offense under Texas Transportation Code § 550.021;
  • a general violation offense under Texas Transportation Code § 521.451 or fictitious license or certificate offense under Texas Transportation Code § 521.453; or
  • a manslaughter offense under Texas Penal Code § 19.04, if the holder used a motor vehicle in the commission of the offense.
 

Texas Transportation Code § 521.457(d) establishes that except as provided by Texas Transportation Code § 521.457(c), it is an affirmative defense to prosecution of an offense, other than an offense under Texas Transportation Code § 521.341, that the person did not receive actual notice of a cancellation, suspension, revocation, or prohibition order relating to the person’s license. It should be noted that actual notice is presumed if the notice was sent in accordance with the law.

Driving while license invalid is generally a Class C misdemeanor, but the offense is a Class B misdemeanor if it is shown on the trial of the offense that the alleged offender:

  • has previously been convicted of an offense under this section or an operation of a motor vehicle in violation of suspension offense under Texas Transportation Code § 601.371(a);
  • at the time of the offense, was operating the motor vehicle in violation of Texas Transportation Code § 601.191 (operation of a motor vehicle in violation of motor vehicle liability insurance requirement); or
  • has previously been suspended as the result of an offense involving the operation of a motor vehicle while intoxicated.
 

Driving while license suspended is a Class A misdemeanor if it is shown on the trial of the offense that at the time of the offense the person was operating the motor vehicle in violation of Texas Transportation Code § 601.191 (operation of a motor vehicle in violation of motor vehicle liability insurance requirement) and caused or was at fault in a motor vehicle accident that resulted in serious bodily injury to or the death of another person.

Driving While License Suspended Penalties in Texas

Convictions for driving while license invalid can carry serious consequences for some offenses. Sentences could include the following penalties:

  • Class C Misdemeanor — Fine of up to $2,000 and/or up-to 180 days in jail
  • Class B Misdemeanor — Fine of up to $2,000 and/or up-to 180 days in jail
  • Class A Misdemeanor — Fine of up to $4,000 and/or up-to one year in jail

In addition to the penalties listed above, a person could also face possible surcharges of $250 per year for three years by the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS). For renewal or issuance of a driver’s license, a person must complete each of the following:

  • Serve the required suspension period;
  • Pay the required $100 Reinstatement fee prior to the renewal or issuance of your driver’s license, in addition to paying any other outstanding fees owed;
  • Obtain a Financial Responsibility Insurance Certificate (SR-22) from an authorized insurance company (an SR-22 must be maintained for two years from the date of conviction).

Fort Worth, TX Driving While License Suspended Resources

TxDPS – Driving While License is Invalid (DWLI) | Texas DPS — Visit the Texas Department of Public Safety website dedicated to driving while license invalid offenses. Learn about different requirements for the renewal or issuance of a driver’s license. Also, learn about occupational licenses and driver eligibility statuses.

Drumm v. State, 560 S.W.2d 944 (1977) — William Carlyle Drumm was convicted of driving while their license was suspended and was punished with a $25 fine and six months in jail, but argued the trial court erred when it overruled his motion to quash the information in this cause because it failed to give appellant sufficient notice of the nature of the operator’s license suspension relied upon by the state for conviction. The court overruled the motion to quash, but the Court of Criminal Appeals of Texas ruled that it cannot be claimed by the state, when there is a motion to quash on these grounds, that appellant knew the grounds for the suspension of his license. For failure to grant the motion to quash and provide adequate notice to Drumm of the charges against him, the judgment was reversed and the prosecution under this information was dismissed.

Find A Tarrant County Defense Attorney for Driving While License Suspended | Law Offices of Richard C. McConathy

If you were arrested for driving with a suspended license in the greater Fort Worth area of Tarrant County, you cannot afford to delay in getting yourself legal help. Do not wait to contact the Law Offices of Richard C. McConathy today.

Our firm will look at all aspects of your case and work to develop the strongest possible defense against criminal charges. Call (817) 422-5350 or contact us online to have us discuss your case with you during a free consultation.