Attorney Matt Jett
Driving While Suspended
Did you recently get a Driving While Suspended Ticket in St. Louis, or elsewhere in Missouri?
If you have gotten a Driving While Suspended (or DWS) ticket it is extremely important that you contact an experienced St. Louis traffic attorney right away. If you plead guilty to this charge, you will get 12 points on your license and an automatic 1-year suspension on your license. If you are convicted of DWS multiple times, this can become a class D felony which carries a range of punishment of 1-4 years in prison, or up to one year in county jail.
What if I didn’t even know my license was suspended? How did this even happen?
Many people are issued DWS tickets when they were unaware that their license had been suspended. Unfortunately, that isn’t a defense to the charge; DWS is a status offense and does NOT require the defendant to ‘knowingly’ drive with a suspended license.
There are a number of reasons why a person’s Missouri driver’s license can become suspended, including:
Accumulation of 8 points within any 18 month period
- You can accumulate 8 points with as few as 3 speeding tickets;
- Only 2 ‘No Insurance’ tickets will give you 8 points and cause a suspended license.
Missing a court date can cause your license to be suspended
- If you have gotten a traffic ticket of any kind, even no-points violations such as ‘improper registration’, you must appear in court on your court date. If you choose not to hire an attorney for these types of tickets, it is your responsibility to check with the court to find out when your court date is, and your responsibility to appear on that date. Even if your ticket does not state a day that you are to appear in court, the court WILL SET A DATE, and it is your own responsibility to call the court to confirm that date.
- After you have been to court, if you do not pay your fines on-time, the court can: Suspend your license; Issue a warrant for your arrest; and Put a hold on your license (called a ‘hold in lieu of bail’) This is different from a suspension, in that your license will not be suspended but you will be unable to renew your license after it expires until you pay your fines.
After you have gotten a DWS, what can you do?
Depending on the jurisdiction where you got your ticket, there are usually options to keep the points off your license if you hire an attorney. Often times what I am able to do is negotiate with a prosecuting attorney to amend the charge to a non-moving, no-points offense, in return for payment of a fine and court costs. Unfortunately, the fines for DWS are usually higher than what would be typical of a speeding ticket.
In addition to paying fines to keep the points off your record, it is usually a requirement that you get your license reinstated in order to have the charges amended. Prosecuting attorneys are more likely to give a favorable deal when a suspended driver takes the necessary steps to get in compliance and is no longer driving while suspended. This usually involves finding out what court(s) suspended your license and paying any fines and clearing up any unresolved traffic issues you have there. After you clear things up, you must request a Letter of Compliance from that court and go to your local DMV office to have your license reinstated.
Even if you are unable to get your license back, for whatever reason, there are also options such as getting a Limited Driving Privilege, or Hardship License. This is another area where it is very beneficial to have an experienced traffic attorney working on your case. I help clients obtain hardship licenses whenever it is possible and the best solution for their unique situation.