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Driving With a Suspended License: Texas Laws and Penalties

Criminal Law Blog by The Law Office of Greg Tsioros

Driving With a Suspended License: Texas Laws and Penalties

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Texas will suspend or revoke a person’s driving privileges for numerous reasons. A suspended license means a person’s driving privileges were temporarily taken away. The person can’t operate a motor vehicle for a specific time such as six months or one year. Driving privileges can be reinstated after following certain rules or after a required time.

A revoked driver’s license refers to canceled driving privileges. The driver is no longer allowed to operate a motor vehicle. The license can’t be reinstated. A person would have to go through the entire process of obtaining a license, including taking the written and road tests.

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Why a Driver’s License is Suspended in Texas

In Texas, a license can be suspended because of:

  • Driving while intoxicated, or DWI: DWI refers to operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol. A driver’s license can be temporarily taken away for a year or more depending on the number of DWI offenses. For example, an individual is stopped for a traffic offense and arrested for DWI. They are found guilty of driving while under the influence. They are ordered to pay $2,000 fine and serve 72 hours in jail. Their driving privilege may be suspended from 90 days to one year.
  • Leaving the scene of an accident: If a driver is involved in an accident and they leave, it’s a crime. Leaving refers to driving or walking away from an accident before the police arrive. The driver’s license will be temporarily taken away even if the driver wasn’t the cause of the accident.
  • Fleeing the scene of an accident: Fleeing a scene of an accident refers to knowingly evading police after leaving an accident. This crime requires an automatic license suspension.
  • Harming another person in an accident: A result of a traffic accident may be serious injury or death of another person. If a person is killed or injured in an accident, the driver who caused the harm will have their license suspended.
  • Not having insurance: Texas requires all drivers to have auto insurance to operate a motor vehicle. If a driver causes an accident and doesn’t have auto insurance, their license will be suspended.
  • Repeated traffic offenses: A driver with four or more traffic offenses can have their license suspended. Traffic offenses include running a red light, speeding, or reckless driving. The number of traffic offense must happen within a year of each for license suspension.

Driving with a Suspended License in Texas

Unfortunately, going to work, school, or other important tasks aren’t suspended when a driver loses their license. Some people decide to take a risk and drive without a valid license. A valid license means the driver still have their privileges to drive. If they are caught driving with a suspended license, it’s a misdemeanor. The specific misdemeanor depends on a number of factors like repeat offenses. Penalties for driving with a suspended license are:

Class C Misdemeanor

When a driver is pulled over for an unrelated traffic offense like speeding, an officer may discover they don’t have a valid license. The penalty for being pulled over for a different traffic offense and having a suspended license is $500.

Class B Misdemeanor

Repeated traffic stops when driving with a suspended license may be bad luck for a driver, but it’s a tougher penalty than being pulled over once. The crime is a class B misdemeanor and punishable by 180 days in county jail and $2,000 fine. The driver can also be charged with this type of misdemeanor when they lack valid insurance or their driver’s license was suspended for DWI.

Class A Misdemeanor

If a driver operates a motor vehicle with a suspended license and injures another person, it’s a Class A misdemeanor. This is the most serious misdemeanor because the driver can face a year in county jail and pay a $4,000 fine.

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What to Do When Caught Driving Without a License

It’s easy to panic while operating a car without a valid license. In some situations, a driver may not know their license was suspended. Hire an attorney immediately. Defenses are available to combat the harsh consequences associated with a suspended license.

For instance, an attorney can argue the driver never received the notification of the suspension. Thus, they were operating the vehicle under a good faith belief they their license was valid.

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