Everyday, in Memphis, thousands of people drive without a license or with a suspended license. It’s a problem that can’t easily be fixed and despite tougher laws making driving on a suspended license punishable with up to a year in jail, in Shelby County General Sessions courts very little actually happens. It’s not that having a driver’s license really makes a big difference in the grand scheme if you’re capable of driving. The problem with an unlicensed driver is when they have an accident and don’t have insurance. You see, it's impossible to get car insurance without a valid driver's license.
Driving on a Suspended License
Charged with driving on a suspended license? You could be facing up to 11 months and 29 days in jail each time you get caught driving with a suspended license. Don’t throw away good money without knowing the facts. Our law firm can help. We've literally handled thousands of driving cases. It’s a well known fact that driving on a suspended license is the most charged crime in Memphis. It's literally charged so much that Memphis police often won’t make an arrest even though they are required to do so. What people don’t know, however, is that depending on where you’re charged with driving on a suspended license, could mean the difference between jail time, probation, a fine, or simple compliance in getting your driver’s license back. Our attorneys know exactly what consequences you'll face if you're charged with driving on a suspended license in Memphis, Bartlett, Collierville or Germantown.
My license is suspended, but I haven't been charged with a crime.
The Department of Safety will have requirements that you must meet in order to have your license reinstated. There are many reasons why your license may be suspended. You can make an appointment with one of our attorneys and we can find out what those requirements are and help formulate the best plan for getting your license reinstated.
I was charged with driving on a suspended license.
A first offense for driving on suspended license is a Class B Misdemeanor punishable by up to 6 months in jail. Second and subsequent offenses are Class A misdemeanors and are punishable by up to 11 months and 29 days in jail. If your license was suspended due to a DUI, reckless driving, or one of many other offenses, it may count against you in being considered a habitual motor vehicle offender. Most courts will show leniency if you will take the necessary steps to have your license reinstated.
I was given a citation for driving on a suspended license and there are two court dates on the citation.
The first court date is the date for booking and processing. On this date, you must report to the jail and have your mugshot and fingerprints taken. The second date is your actual court date for arraignment.
I was charged with driving on a suspended license but I now have my license.
Even though you have gotten your license, the offense took place at the time you were stopped. If you license was invalid on that date, a criminal offense took place. While some courts will be more lenient because you have your license, chances are, you still need an attorney. You will most definitely need an attorney if an accident or some other violation is on the citation.
I can’t get my license because they have been suspended for back child support.
Often, you may be able to have the child support load taken off by submitting a “purge payment” with the court and making arrangements with juvenile court to bring the arrearages current.
Do I need an attorney if I got my license?
It depends on the court where your case is being heard. Some judges and prosecutors won't dismiss a driving on suspended license case unless an attorney negotiates the settlement.
I have two citations for driving on a suspended license.
Tennessee law only permits you to remain out of custody on one citation. The law orders that if you have a citation pending, the citing officer must arrest you on the second citation. In jurisdictions such as Memphis, the police are usually not going to take the time to research whether you currently have another citation pending. Instead, when you arrive to court, the judge will order you to go into custody and set a bond. The other option is to dispose of your cases on that court date by negotiating some sort of settlement.
How do I get on the “drive while you pay” plan?
There are two drive while you pay programs: Memphis City and Shelby County.
If your license is suspended due to nonpayment of Memphis tickets, you are eligible for the program if you owe a balance of more than $200.00 and the tickets on the suspension are 4 years or older. Also, you must have gotten all other reinstatement requirements satisfied before you can begin the program. If your balance is $500 or less, you must make payment of $50.00 per month. If greater than $500.00, you must pay $100.00 per month.
Shelby County is much easier. Tennessee law prohibits suspension of drivers license so long as a payment plan on the fines and costs is made and kept current. If you have become delinquent on these fines and costs, you will want to discuss your case with one of our attorneys to get you back into a payment plan and the hold on your license released.
Am I eligible for driver’s license reinstatement?
At your appointment with one of our attorneys, we can find out whether you are eligible.
I’ve never had a driver’s license, how can it be suspended?
If the Tennessee Department of Safety determines that circumstances exist which would suspend your driving privileges, that agency will assign you a driver’s license number and then suspend it.
Why do I keep getting pulled over?
Have you noticed those little cameras on top of the police cars? That machine hooks up to a computer in the car which reads license plates and puts a report on the computer screen. They can tell if the last time they pulled that car over the driver had a suspended license. Now they just need probable cause to make the stop, such as a window tint charge, speeding, or a broken tail light.
I was arrested for driving on a suspended license.
Tennessee law proscribes only certain situations in which an arrest can be made on this offense (along with other offenses). If an officer makes that arrest, he must put the basis in the Affidavit of Complaint for the arrest is invalid. Those reasons could include the belief that an arrest is necessary to prevent the offense from continuing or a prior pending citation.
I was cited for driving on a suspended license.
Generally, when pulled over for driving on a suspended license you will receive a citation. If you have a second citation or a warrant for your arrest you will probably be arrested.
What is the difference between being arrested and being cited?
Mostly, with an arrest, you will go straight to jail. A citation is issued for some crimes in lieu of arrest. All of the court proceedings remain the same.
Is a ticket the same thing as a citation?
No. A ticket is not a criminal charge. A ticket can only be punishable by up to $50 fine and no jail time. Most citation offenses are punishable by jail time.
I was charged with driving on a suspended license but my case is in Memphis City Court.
That is a blessing. We can usually have a driving on suspended license case dismissed if you will get your license. It is the officer’s prerogative as to whether to issue you a citation or a ticket.
Who has jurisdiction in my suspended license case?
The city or county in which you received the citation or were arrested has jurisdiction over your case.
Can I have a jury trial in a driving on a suspended license case?
Yes. The U.S. Constitution gives you the right to a jury trial for any offense which carries jail time or a fine greater than $50. Driving on suspended license qualifies. After your case is indicted by a grand jury, you may request a jury trial.
Do I have to come to court?
Probably. The Tennessee Rules of Criminal Procedure permit a defendant to waive appearance for arraignment, but the necessary filings must be made with the court. Also, a defendant does not need to be present to have his case dismissed. However, it is always a good idea to clear this with the judge before missing court.
I have a warrant because I missed my court date for driving on a suspended license.
Now you surely need an attorney if you have not already hired one. If we act quickly, we can have the warrant recalled so you will not have to go to jail.
Why do some courts offer a class to get my driver’s license back?
Because Memphis, Shelby County, has an epidemic of driving on suspended license cases, some courts have decided that the best way to combat this is to offer defendants a class which teaches them how to get their license back.
Why do some courts make people serve jail time for driving on a suspended license?
Each court and judge are different and take different approaches in combating the high volume of suspended license cases. Also, if a defendant has many prior convictions for driving on a suspended license in which a fine did not get the point across, the court is left with no alternative but to proscribe jail time.
I have a driving on a suspended license case in Memphis.
There are many court rooms in Memphis that handle these types of cases. Our Memphis suspended license attorneys offer a free consultation in which we can find out what court room you are assigned to and what the possible outcomes may be.
I have a driving on a suspended license case in Bartlett.
In our professional opinion, Bartlett handles these cases unconstitutionally. Generally, that court will offer you to enter a conditional guilty plea and reset the case for about 45 days for sentencing. If you return with your license, they will dismiss the case. If you do not have your license, you must serve a jail sentence. This is unconstitutional because the court permits defendants to enter guilty pleas without the benefit of an attorney. Unless you voluntarily waive your right to counsel, this guilty plea is invalid. The best thing to do is to have a Bartlett suspended license attorney before your first court date.
I have an out of state driver’s license, should I get a Tennessee one?
Tennessee law requires you to if you live in Tennessee. However, if your suspension is from another state, it is unlikely that the local prosecutor is going to go through the effort of bringing the necessary witnesses to court to prove that your license is suspended from that state.
Will it still be suspended?
If your license is suspended from another state, Tennessee will have a hold on issuing you a license. You will need to cure the suspension before Tennessee will issue you a license.
My license is revoked for a DUI.
Tennessee law mandates a 48 hour jail sentence for a first offense for driving on suspended license which is revoked subject to a DUI. Subsequent offenses are punished even more harshly. If you have received a citation and your license was never reinstated from the DUI, you will need an attorney to handle your case.
Can I get a restricted driver’s license?
That depends on why your license is suspended. If it is suspended for a DUI, then you can get a restricted driver’s license. If it is suspended for nonpayment of fines, you cannot. To get a restricted drivers license, you must present an order to a Tennessee judge for signature. Once signed, you can complete the remaining requirements, such as installation of the ignition interlock device, and turn it into the Department of Safety for your license. This signed order is only good for 10 days, so once it is signed, you must act quickly. Our Memphis attorneys can help you navigate the process of obtaining a restricted drivers license.
What are some reasons my driver’s license could be suspended?
• Violation of Financial Responsibility Law
• Non-payment of fines and costs on cases involving a moving violation
• Excessive moving violations (more than 12 points on your license in a calendar year)
• Nonpayment of child support
• Reckless driving
• Drag racing
• Vehicular homicide
• Being involved in an accident without insurance coverage
• Failure to stop following an accident
• Giving false information to an officer
• Failure to stop when signaled by the police
• Physical or psychological disability
• Failure to respond to a notice from the Department of Safety
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Balestrini, Barnes, Jaber & Wood, PLLC
1555 Madison Ave, Ste 202
Memphis, TN 38104
(901) 578-1515 P
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