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Orlando Criminal Attorney > Blog > Criminal Defense > How To Defend Against DWLS Charges In Florida

How To Defend Against DWLS Charges In Florida


Millions of people have their driver’s license suspended every year in Florida. In 2018, the number of people that had their license suspended was two million. Most people do not even realize their driver’s license has been suspended until it is too late and they are now facing criminal traffic charges for driving during a suspension. Fortunately, there are defenses available for these charges, but it is important to work with an Orlando criminal defense lawyer. A lawyer will understand which defense is most appropriate for your case, and give you the best chance of a positive outcome.

Understanding DWLS Charges

Driving while license suspended, revoked, canceled, or disqualified (DWLS) is one of the most common criminal offenses in Florida. It is not uncommon for people to think that DWLS charges are a result of poor driving. However, your license may also be suspended if you refuse to pay fines, court fees, or even fall behind on your child support payments. A person can face DWLS charges if their driver’s license is suspended, but they continue driving with it anyway.

Many people think a driver’s license suspension is the same thing as a revocation, but it is not. If your driver’s license is suspended, you will lose it for a specific period of time. However, if your driver’s license is revoked, there is a chance that your driving privileges may never be restored.

Many people do not appreciate the seriousness of multiple DWLS convictions. For example, a person facing their third DWLS conviction faces a mandatory 10 days in jail. In addition, a person facing their third DWLS conviction within a 5-year period will be designated as a Habitual Traffic Offender and their license will be revoked for 5 years.

Defending Against DWLS Charges

It is possible to defend against DWLS charges, but the defenses available to you will largely depend on the reason for the suspension. For example, if your license was suspended because of a DUI, it may limit your options for your defense. If your license was suspended for any other reason, you may have certain defenses available. These are as follows:

  • Your license was not suspended: It may seem hard to believe, but clerical errors and other mistakes result in a driver’s license being improperly suspended more often than many people think. For example, if your license was suspended due to unpaid speeding tickets but you have paid the fines, you can show proof of payment which provides evidence that the suspension should have been lifted. This can show that you did nothing wrong and provide a valid defense. A criminal defense attorney will be able to provide proof of a valid license to the prosecutor and the Court and the DWLS charge most likely will either be dismissed or reduced to a civil charge of No Valid Driver’s License.
  • You did not know of the suspension: In many cases, notice of the suspension is sent to the last known address of the driver and often, that address is outdated. If you did not admit that you knew of the suspension, the burden is on the authorities to prove they notified you of the suspension and that you received the notification.
  • You were not on a Florida highway: DWLS charges only apply if you are driving on a Florida highway. If you were on private property, construction site, or another area not designated as a Florida highway, it can provide a solid defense.
  • You have a suspension due to child support, failure to appear to court, or failure to pay fines or court fees: A criminal defense attorney will be able to assist in lifting the suspensions allowing you to obtain a valid driver’s license and work with the prosecutor to have the DWLS dismissed or reduced to a civil infraction.

Our Criminal Defense Lawyers in Florida Can Defend Against Your Charges

If you have been charged with driving while license suspended (DWLS), our Orlando criminal defense lawyers at O’Mara Law Group can help you beat the charges. Call us today at 407-898-5151 or fill out our online form so we can review your case.

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