What is Driving on a Suspended License, ARS 28-3473?
The crime of “Driving on a Suspended, Revoked or Canceled License,” commonly called “Driving on a Suspended License” or “DOSL” is defined in A.R.S. § 28-3473. It is a class 1 misdemeanor offense, the highest misdemeanor offense level in Arizona.
Simply, if you have a suspended license, you cannot drive any motor vehicle on a public road. This means a car, truck, RV, motorized scooter in any public space – whether it is your vehicle or someone else’s vehicle. If you do so, you risk having the vehicle impounded, facing jail time, a large fine, and additional MVD penalties assessed against your driving privilege.
While some people are aware of why their license has been suspended, others may not be. Several offenses can cause your license to be suspended and if you do not take care of MVD requirements once those suspensions are complete, you license remains suspended.
When Can you Be Charged with Driving On a Suspended License?
Some common criminal offenses that can lead to a suspended license include:
- DUI (all levels)
- Reckless or Aggressive Driving
- More than 8 points assessed against your license in a 12-month period (for civil or criminal tickets)
- Various felony crimes that involve vehicles
Civil violations like driving with no insurance, failing to pay a civil fine or appear in court, or providing false statements to MVD can also cause your license to be suspended.
Drivers who are deemed medically unfit (i.e. blind, epileptic, etc.) and those who otherwise fail to meet the qualifications to obtain their driver’s license may also have their driver’s license suspended, revoked, canceled or refused.
A.R.S. § 28-3473 Defined
Arizona’s Driving on a Suspended License statute, A.R.S. § 28-3473, states:
“Except as provided in section 28-3482, a person may not operate a motor vehicle on a public highway if the person’s privilege to drive a motor vehicle is suspended, revoked, canceled or refused or if the person is disqualified from driving.”
A.R.S. § 28-3482 is a civil traffic violation and an exception to the Driving on a Suspended License statute. It states: “a person may not drive a motor vehicle on a public highway if the person’s privilege to drive a motor vehicle is suspended pursuant to section 28-1601 or 28-3308.”
- A.R.S. § 28-1601 – A person fails to pay civil penalties (fines) from a civil conviction like a civil speeding ticket.
- A.R.S. § 28-3308 – A person fails to appear in court for a criminal traffic matter OR appears in court but failed to pay fines, surcharges, and/or assessments owed.
What is the “privilege to drive”?
In Arizona, residents have the privilege to drive and are issued a driver’s license to show that they have the privilege. However, not having an Arizona or other state driver’s license does not necessarily mean you do not have the privilege to drive in the State of Arizona. Likewise, having an Arizona or other state driver’s license does not necessarily mean you have the privilege to drive in the State of Arizona. The privilege is tied to your driving record with the Motor Vehicle Division of the Arizona Department of Transportation. It is not tied to whether you physically have or possess a driver’s license. You can lose the privilege based on your driving conduct.
Example: Defendant is convicted of a DUI and as part of her conviction, the court suspended her driver’s license for a period of 90 days. After the 90 days is over, Defendant received a notice from MVD stating tht she could reinstate her driver’s license for a small fee. Defendant forgot to reinstate it. On day 120, she drove her car to do some errands and was stopped by an officer for a broken taillight. The officer learned that Defendant’s driver’s license was still suspended. While the suspension for the DUI conviction was over at the time of her stop, Defendant’s failed to reinstate her driver’s license with the MVD. This means that her privilege to drive was still suspended. Because her license was suspended at the time of her stop, and it was for a DUI offense (and not failure to pay a civil penalty or failure to appear in court), the Defendant violated the Driving on a Suspended License statute.
What does it mean to “operate a motor vehicle?”
Operating a motor vehicle means driving or being in actual physical control of a vehicle – this can mean you caused it to move or to be in a particular place, even if you were not driving it. This also applies to any vehicle, whether it belongs to you or someone else.
Penalties for Driving on a Suspended License
The penalties for driving on a suspended license can include:
- Vehicle impounding for up to 30 days
- Up to 6 months in jail
- A fine up to $2,500 with a surcharge
- Up to 3 years of probation
- Other: Points assessed against your driver’s license (2 points) and possible insurance rate increases
Defenses to Driving on a Suspended License, ARS 28-3473
Lack of Evidence – The state must prove all crimes “beyond a reasonable doubt.” The state’s evidence may deficient so that they cannot prove you were driving with a suspended license. For instance, if your license was not actually suspended or was illegally suspended at the time you were stopped, this a defense to charge. Or, if you were not driving or operating the motor vehicle at the time you were stopped, the state would likely have to dismiss the case.
No Criminal Intent – The driving under a suspended license statute is a strict liability offense, meaning, there is no mental requirement that you intended to drive with a suspended license – you either did it or did not do it. However, if you did not know your license was suspended and/or it was suspended in error or the suspension was completed but not reflected in MVD records, these may be possible defenses to the charge.
Constitutional Violations – If the police violated your rights in any way, i.e., if you did not make a moving violation yet the officer stopped you, ran your MVD record and cited you for driving on a suspended license anyways, it’s likely the officer did not have a constitutional reason to stop you.
Necessity based on an Emergency – If there was a medical or other kind of emergency that required you to drive to protect another person, it may be a possible defense to the charge.
How Salwin Law Group Can Help You Fight a Charge Under ARS 28-3473
If you’ve been charged with Driving on a Suspended License under A.R.S. § 28-3473, it’s important that you hire an experienced criminal defense attorney. Stewart Salwin will fight to get your charge lowered or dismissed. He is a graduate of Harvard Law School and a former felony prosecutor, and he knows how the prosecution thinks and what will convince them to get you a favorable resolution. We offer a free initial consultation. Give us a call, and we can develop a defense strategy with you today.