The state of Texas may suspend your license for a variety of reasons. The state is entitled to charge you further if you are caught driving when your license is invalid due to suspension. If you drive any motor vehicle while your driver’s license is suspended or revoked, you are committing the crime of driving while your license is invalid (DWLI). There are serious consequences for driving while your license is invalid.
The Texas Transportation Code § 521.457 states the four ways someone can commit the offense of DWLI:
(1) after the person’s driver’s license has been canceled under this chapter if the person does not have a license that was subsequently issued under this chapter;
(2) during a period that the person’s driver’s license or privilege is suspended or revoked under any law of this state;
(3) while the person’s driver’s license is expired if the license expired during a period of suspension; or
(4) after renewal of the person’s driver’s license has been denied under any law of this state, if the person does not have a driver’s license subsequently issued under this chapter.
An individual who garners a DWLI charge is subject to legal consequences above and beyond the original penalties received when his or her license was suspended in the first place. Driving with an invalid license could result in a charge of a Class C misdemeanor (or even more serious charges depending on circumstances). The maximum penalty for Class C misdemeanors is a $500 fine (Texas Penal Code § 12.23).
One could be charged with a Class B misdemeanor instead if he or she has been convicted of driving after a previous suspension or revocation, if he or she did not have insurance at the time of the offense, or if his or her license was suspended for operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated. The maximum penalty for Class B misdemeanors is a fine of up to $2,000 and jail time up to 180 days (Texas Penal Code § 12.22.)
One could also be charged with a Class A misdemeanor under certain circumstances, such as being caught driving without insurance upon causing a crash that results in serious injury or death of another person. The maximum penalty for Class A misdemeanors is a fine up to $4,000 fine and up to one year in jail (Texas Penal Code § 12.21).
Other fees one might incur if convicted of DWLI includes a $250 surcharge on your license every year for up to three years (Texas Transportation Code § 708.103).
Driving while your license is suspended in Texas can result in significant consequences including fees and jail time. The best course of action is to refrain from driving until your license suspension period is complete or your driving privileges are restored. Part three of this series will discuss having a suspended license reinstated.
Consulting with an experienced attorney who is familiar with DWLI charges is key. Jarvis, Garcia, & Erskine Law is a skilled team of knowledgeable lawyers who are available to help you with your legal needs, including your driver’s license suspension case. If you are in the Austin, Texas area, you can contact Jarvis, Garcia, & Erskine Law online or at 512-359-3030 to discuss your situation with a licensed attorney.