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Texas Penalties for Driving with a Suspended License

Criminal Law Blog by The Law Office of Greg Tsioros

Texas Penalties for Driving with a Suspended License

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Getting Caught Driving on a Suspended License in Texas

It’s a sight many Texans are familiar with: bright blue and red lights flashing above the familiar black shape of a Texas Highway Patrol cruiser. Just like that, your peaceful drive can turn into a stressful situation. If you’re driving on a suspended license, that stress can turn into a very serious problem.

While some people may think it is no big deal, driving on a suspended license in Texas is a serious issue. Getting caught with a suspended license can land you in very serious trouble and jeopardize your ability to drive in the future. Check out this article to find out what can happen if you’re charged with this offense in the Lone Star State.


Texas Driver’s License Laws

In the state of Texas, driving on public roads and highways is a right, not a privilege. When you pass a driver’s test and are issued a license, you are expected to keep that license with you at all times while operating a vehicle on Texas roads. That license serves the purpose of identification and it also confirms your status as an approved driver.

If your license is suspended, you are effectively banned from a driving a vehicle in Texas for the duration of the suspension. There are many reasons that your license can be suspended in Texas, including:

  • A conviction for DWI
  • A large number of traffic tickets or driving violations
  • Failing to pay child support
  • Driving a vehicle without an active insurance policy

Whatever the cause, when your license is suspended, it is effective immediately and it applies for the duration of your entire sentence. If you get caught driving on a suspended license on the very last day of your suspension period, you can face serious penalties.

Legal Penalties

The potential legal consequences for driving with a suspended license are certainly more than a slap on the wrist. You could end up being fined hundreds of dollars, in addition to other penalties, for a conviction on this charge. A first-time offense of driving on a suspended license with no additional factors is a Class C misdemeanor charge. This is punishable by:

  • Up to a $500 fine
  • Possible extension of the suspension period

If you have a previous conviction for driving with an invalid license, if it was suspended as the result of a DWI or if you also do not have insurance when charged with a suspended license offense, the charge can be upgraded to a Class B misdemeanor. This is punishable by:

  • Up to 180 days in county jail
  • Up to a $2000 fine
  • Possible extension of the suspension period

If you are driving on a suspended license and you cause a wreck that results in serious injury or death, you could face a Class A misdemeanor. This has punishments including:

  • Up to one year in county jail
  • A fine of up to $4000
  • Possible extension of the suspension period

When your license is suspended, the best thing to do is to avoid driving for the suspension period. There are steps that you can take to have your license reinstated as soon as possible.

Reinstating Your Driver’s License

When your license is suspended, you are generally given a short period of time to contest the decision. If it is an Administrative License Revocation, or ALR, you have 15 days to request a hearing. For other suspensions, you will have 20 days.

At the suspension hearing, you can try to prove that the suspension or revocation is invalid. For example, you might try to argue that the traffic stop that led to your suspension was not based on probable cause or reasonable suspicion. You might also try to argue that you had a valid emergency reason for driving on a suspended license.

Although you may appear at the hearings on your own behalf, you will have a much better chance if you hire a lawyer to appear for you. Although revocations are not usually overturned, hiring a lawyer is your best bet for getting the suspension reversed.

If the suspension holds or if you do not request a hearing, you will be expected to serve the full suspension period. This could be 30 days, 90 days or for several years. Any infractions that you incur while on your suspension period may cause the period to be lengthened.

Once your suspension period is up, you can go to the Texas Department of Public Safety’s website to complete the reinstatement process. You will have to provide some personal info and pay a fee. You must also make sure that all your fines and court fees have been paid in full.

If you don’t have Internet access, you can complete this process by mail. Once your payment has been received and your information processed, you will be sent a temporary license to use until your new, valid license can be printed and shipped to you.

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