Vehicle Code Violations Defense Attorney
This is neither intended nor should it be construed as legal advice. Please remember that the information which appears below is only a generalized overview of the current law as it applies to traffic related offenses. Often, the punishment imposed by the courts turns on the specific facts of a given case. For legal advice specific to your case, you must consult an attorney.
Call Dolan Law Offices for a free initial consultation or jail visit at 760-775-3739 or 562-824-4007.
The following is a summary of California Law only.
If you have been charged with a traffic related offense, your first area of inquiry should be to determine whether or not the offense is being charged as an infraction or a misdemeanor (or, in the rare occasion, a felony). Also, you should learn the sentencing guidelines and other potential consequences of a conviction on your driver’s license.
Please note that the definitions that follow have been modified and abbreviated in order to make them easily understood by a person who does not practice law. For a full and complete description of the following charges, you must consult an experienced criminal defense attorney.
Vehicle Code Sections:
12500: No license: Driving without a valid driver’s license. Often, this offense is also charged when you have a valid license, but are not in possession of that license when you are stopped by law enforcement.
IMPORTANT: Many people think that this is a very simple traffic violation, like a speeding ticket. However, unlike speeding, this type of offense can be filed as a misdemeanor and result in a jail sentence of up to 90 days. You can also be placed on probation for this type of violation.
14601: Suspended License: Driving while your privilege to drive is suspended. The court and/or the DMV can suspend your license for a variety of reasons. The purpose of the suspension will determine the type of penalty you are facing. Here’s a helpful hint. Check the last number on your citation or the complaint filed in your case. If, after the numbers 14601, the number 2 or the number 5 appears, you may be facing a more serious violation than you think.
You should consult with an experienced attorney to discuss the specific type of suspension charge you are facing. A good lawyer will explain the consequences of the charge and help you get the best possible results.
IMPORTANT: Again, driving with a suspended license can be a much more serious offense than you might think, often carrying minimum jail sentences and extensive fines. A conviction for this type of offense also carries two points on your license.
A suspended license conviction is priorable, which essentially means that each additional conviction will carry greatly increased penalties because of your prior record.
IMPORTANT: These charges carry much stiffer penalties than you might expect, but they are also much more difficult for the prosecutor to prove than you might think. It is a bit more complicated than simply driving while your privilege is suspended. You should speak with an experienced attorney before making any decisions or pleading guilty too hastily in this type of case.
20002(a): Hit & Run. Leaving the scene of an accident without exchanging information with the other driver or leaving identifying information if no one else is at the scene.
This type of offense can carry up to 6 months in county jail, depending on your previous driving history, criminal record or the seriousness of your conduct. An experienced attorney can help you get the best possible results and may even be able to get the charges completely dismissed.
20001(a): Hit & Run with Injury: Similar to hit and run, with the additional requirement that someone is injured as a result of the accident. Can be charged as either a felony or a misdemeanor.
If the injury is not serious, this offense will be charged as a misdemeanor with a maximum penalty of 1 year in the county jail. If the accident results in serious, permanent injury or death, the prosecuting agency can file the case as either a misdemeanor or a felony. If filed as a felony, the defendant is facing up to 3 years in state prison.
2800.1(a): Evading a Peace Officer: Any person who, while operating a motor vehicle and with the intent to evade, flees or attempts to elude a pursuing police vehicle.
This offense carries a maximum of 6 months in the county jail. There are several elements that the prosecution must meet in order to prove this type of offense. If charged with a violation of this vehicle code section, you should consult with an attorney, who can further discuss the requirements and defenses specific to the facts of your case.
2800.2(a) Evading a Peace Officer/Reckless driving: Similar to the above violation, with the additional requirement that, in the course of evading the police, the defendant has shown a willful disregard for the safety of others.
Important: This offense can be charged as either a felony or a misdemeanor. If charged as a felony, the maximum penalty is 3 years in State Prison. This is a specific intent charge, which can be very difficult for the prosecution to prove. You should consult with an attorney to discuss the specifics of your case.
Probation is a period of time during which you must stay out of trouble and fulfill conditions set forth by the court or you will face the maximum penalty under the crime for which you have been convicted.
Probation will usually last anywhere from 1 to 5 years. However, in certain cases, you can get no or little probation. The less probation, the better. If unable to get the case dismissed entirely, an experienced lawyer will help you get the best probationary sentence available, thereby limiting your overall exposure following a conviction.
Important: You are responsible for maintaining your probation in good standing. When you are placed on probation, you will probably have specific terms and conditions, such as fines and community service, that you must complete in order to remain in compliance. If you fail to satisfy any of those terms and conditions, ignorance will not be a valid excuse. If you are in violation of probation, the judge can sentence you to the maximum punishment available under the law, which often includes custody time.
Remember: If you are facing a probation violation, you are entitled to a probation violation hearing. An experienced attorney should be able to get you the best possible results and often will be able to keep you out of custody entirely.
Misdemeanor Probation: If you are placed on probation following a misdemeanor conviction for any of the above offenses, it will most likely be summary probation with specific terms and conditions. Summary probation simply means probation without a probation officer and without probation fines. However, you must understand that you can both go to jail for an amount of time less than the maximum and also be placed on probation.
Felony Probation: If you are placed on probation following a felony conviction for any of the above offenses, it will most likely be formal probation. This means that you will have probation officer to report to and probation fines that must be paid (these fines often reach amounts in excess of $1,500.00). Remember, you can be sentenced to up to 365 days in the County Jail and still be on probation. Important: An experienced lawyer can often get a felony charge reduced to a misdemeanor, saving you money and time, while also dramatically reducing your maximum penalty.
In all cases involving Hit & Run, you will be responsible for the damages that were a result of your conduct. This will most often include medical expenses and loss of income. Obviously, depending on the type of damages, the amount of restitution can reach well into the thousands of dollars. Any willful failure to pay back the victim can and most likely will result in a violation of your probation and time in jail.
An experienced attorney can help you avoid restitution completely or reduce the restitution to a reasonable amount and assist in arranging a payment plan within your financial ability to pay.
COMMONLY ASKED QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
Q: If I’m charged with driving on a suspended license, will I go to jail?
A: If it is your first offense, probably not. However, it may surprise many people to learn that in cases involving driving while your privilege to drive is suspended, jail sentences are fairly common. In fact, many suspension charges have minimum jail requirements.
Important: All misdemeanors and felonies are punishable by jail time, including something as simple as driving without a license or disturbing the peace. Therefore, in all misdemeanors and felonies, depending on the specific facts of your case, there is the possibility of jail time.
Q: If I’m charged with evading a police officer, will I go to jail?
A: Because of the notoriety these types of cases have received in the past several years, there is an increased potential that the prosecutor will, in fact, ask for jail time on this type of offense. However, it depends on the specific facts of your case and on your criminal record. A good lawyer should be able to get you little to no jail time if the matter is charged as a misdemeanor. If charged as a felony, the offense is much more serious. However, a good attorney will still be able to get you the best deal possible.
Q: If my license is suspended, how do I get it back?
A: Usually, you must go through the Department of Motor Vehicles to get your license reinstated. A good attorney can usually request a hearing and work with both you and the DMV to get you back your license.
Q: How many tickets does it take before my license will be suspended?
A: The privilege to drive is suspended when you get too many points against your license within a given period of time. For example, four points within a 12 month period will result in a suspension, as will 6 points within an 18 month period. Generally, each infraction (i.e. going through a red light, illegal turns) will result in 1 point against your license. However, numerous violations, such as DUIs and reckless driving, carry 2 or even more points for a single violation.
Q: Other than too many tickets or a DUI, how else can my license be suspended?
A: Your privilege to drive can be suspended or revoked for numerous reasons, too many to enumerate here. However, some uncommon example are failure to appear in court, vandalism and failure to pay child support.
Contact John Patrick Dolan
If you have been contacted by the police, arrested or charged with a Traffic Offense or had you License Suspended in Southern California please call Certified California Criminal Defense Specialist John Patrick Dolan, an expert attorney experienced in Vehicle Code Violations, at 760-775-3739 or 562-824-4007.
John Patrick Dolan will fight for your freedom!