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Driving while your license is suspended can result in serious penalties in every state, including jail time.
It is a criminal charge. The exact penalties vary from state to state. Some states require at least a short jail sentence to be imposed.
In Tennessee, where you are from, a first offense of driving under a suspended license is a Class B misdemeanor charge , for which you can be jailed for up to six months and fined up to to $500. For a third offense, it is a Class A misdemeanor which provides for a possible sentence of up to one year and a fine up to $2,500. In addition, a third time offender runs the risk of being labeled a a habitual offender which could result in permanent revocation of your driving privileges.
If your license was suspended in Tennessee for a DUI, a conviction for driving under a suspended license may result in a mandatory jail sentence.
You may be eligible for a restricted license during your period of suspension, that allows you to drive to and from work and other necessary places. When your suspension period is up, and you are eligible to reinstate your license, the Tennessee Department of Safety website is an excellent source for information that can guide you through the steps.
In many cases, an experienced criminal defense attorney can assist you by negotiating with the prosecutor to reduce the charge of driving under suspension to a lesser offense and resolve the case with a fine instead of jail time. He or she will also be able to analyze the facts of your case and the police reports to determine whether you have a defense to the charge, or grounds for a more favorable disposition.
By Jeralyn Merritt, Ask a Lawyer Panelist Since 1998.