Driving on a Suspended License in Phoenix, AZ is Risky Business

by Aaron Black • June 13, 2019
Suspended license in ArizonaLosing the privilege to drive in Arizona is, to say the least, inconvenient. Bus and ride services are alternatives but getting places takes more effort and time and relying on family and friends can quickly become impositions. So, some who have their drivers licenses suspended may decide to become very good traffic law abiding motorists and drive anyway. That’s a big risk.

If you’re pulled over for a brake light that doesn’t work and you had no idea that the bulb had failed, your road to the courthouse is wide open. Driving without a license can be stressful, too, knowing that anything can happen at any time. A fender bender, not your fault, a police checkpoint.

When the officer asks for your license you’ll be arrested, your vehicle will be impounded and you’ll have to pay for its storage.

But you do have legal rights.

Arizona’s Applicable Law Regarding Suspension

Arizona Revised Statute §28-3473 allows suspending, revoking, canceling, or refusing to issue a license for the privilege to drive on the state’s roadways. This section also allows the state to commandeer a license if the person is disqualified from driving, such as advanced age.

Driving on a suspended license is a class 1 misdemeanor which is the most serious of the misdemeanor classes. If convicted you can, but may not, face time in jail. Monetary penalties reach into four figures. If this is the first time you’ve driven without a valid license you might only be placed on probation. Those who have a previous conviction for driving without a license face more serious consequences.

For DUI convictions a driver’s license can be suspended for 90 days under the law’s Per Se Doctrine, which is Latin for something that is inherent or self-evident, and face hefty fines.

A misdemeanor conviction for driving on a suspended license in Phoenix, AZ and surrounding areas will show up on background checks for jobs and renting property.

Why was my License Suspended?

Some may not know that a driver’s license can be suspended if you don’t pay a traffic ticket, or if you fail to appear in court at the appointed date and time.

Other reasons include the following.
  • Refusal to submit to a breath, urine, or blood test
  • You were at fault for a crash causing serious injury or death to someone
  • Fleeing from a crash
  • Driving aggressively or recklessly
  • Not having auto insurance
  • Using fake identification
  • Accumulating more than 12 points against the driver’s license within 12 months
Suspensions have specific start and end dates, and when the suspension is over you’ll have to pay a reinstatement or reapplication fee to get back to driving legally. You can reinstate your license with the MVD online.

Challenging a Suspended License

A driver who has a suspended license has the right to have the Arizona Motor Vehicle Division (MVD) hold a hearing to determine if the license can be reinstated. The decision to reinstate or void a license is made by a hearing officer based on the evidence presented.

Restricted Privilege Licenses in Arizona

In some cases you may be eligible for a restricted license. To be authorized you must have finished all of the sentencing requirements ordered by the court, have satisfied all of the periods of license suspension resulting from the conviction of a misdemeanor or a finding of responsibility for violating a provision of the applicable law.

This restricted class of license allows driving in specific situations:
  • From home to work and work back to home at specific times
  • Trips from home to secondary or post-secondary schools based on the educational schedule
  • From home to treatment facilities and screenings for scheduled appointments
  • Trips from home to scheduled meetings with the assigned probationary officer
  • From home for appointments to a doctor’s office or other health care professionals
  • Trips from home to a facility that services ignition interlocking devices
The restricted license is valid for one year.

Defenses for a Suspended License

The law requires that you “knowingly” drove while your license was suspended. So, if you didn’t know the MVD had suspended your license because you weren’t properly notified of the suspension, you didn’t commit a crime. Or when you discovered the MVD suspension, you promptly took action to correct the reason, such as paying an outstanding traffic ticket.

Mitigating circumstances provided by your defense can help your case. For example, you had to drive in an emergency taking someone who needed immediate help get to a medical care facility.

If your license simply expired and you didn’t notice you should immediately go to a MVD office and renew your license. There is no penalty.

In your Defense

If your license to drive is in jeopardy you’ll need an experienced Criminal Defense Attorney to represent you. The attorney may be able to negotiate a reduced charge and a smaller fine.

The MVD suspends your license under Administrative Law so you’ll also need a criminal defense attorney who well knows the MVD’s process and procedures as well as the criminal courts.

And just as importantly you need representation by someone you trust and who is there for you throughout the case. I arrange my law practice to provide high-quality and personalized service. Unlike many legal firms when you choose Aaron Black Law you get me, not an assistant.

Free and confidential case assessment

You can learn what exactly you’re up against and what your options are in a free and confidential telephonic consultation. This service is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Contact the Law Office of Aaron Black or call 480-729-1683. I handle cases in city, state, and federal courts and I’ll promptly respond to you unless I’m in court.