I did not know my drivers license was suspended?

Mark Rollins Criminal Law - DC, DUI in DC, Traffic DC

suspended or revoked drivers license in DC

Charged with Operating after suspension or revocation in the District of Columbia but you did not know your driver’s license was suspended?

First of all do not panic.   You would be surprised how many people are driving around in the District of Columbia and they did not know their license was suspended or revoked.  Most of the time it is suspended because of traffic or parking tickets.  Some people were charged with a case that was later dismissed by DC Superior Court but did not know that the Department of Motor Vehicle in the District of Columbia took action against their driver’s license.  Trust me we have heard them all.  Feel free to read the code section of our website.

Bad News about Operating after suspension or revocation in the District of Columbia

Operating after Suspension or revocation is a criminal traffic offenses that carry a maximum penalty of 1 year in jail and/or a $5,000.00 fine.  A conviction of either crime carries 12 points with the DC DMV and can result in license revocation.

More bad News about Operating after suspension or revocation in the District of Columbia

So, the offense of operating after suspension or revocation is a strict liability offense which means there is no requirement of knowledge or a mens reas (for you latin geeks).    All the prosecutor needs to prove is you were operating after [revocation] [suspension] of permit, 2) you operated a motor vehicle in the District of Columbia;  3) At the time you were stopped by the police officer you operated the vehicle, and your privilege to operate a motor vehicle in the District of Columbia had been [revoked] [suspended] [because his/her driving privilege was [revoked] [suspended] in his/her home state of [name of licensing state ].  The District of Columbia Court of Appeals held that notice or knowledge of the suspension is not necessary.   However, there is a caveat, the Court in LOFTUS v. DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA   51 A.3d 1285 stated in a footnote that “We here deal only with the issue whether, as an across-the-board matter, the government must in all cases prove notice or knowledge as an element of the offense of OAS. We do not address a situation where the defendant presents some evidence that he or she had no notice of suspension and had no idea that the permit had been suspended. In such a scenario, not present here, the government, similar to instances where self-defense is raised, may well have the obligation to at least present proof that the constitutionally requisite notice of suspension was properly sent.”) Hmm…. interesting footnote huh?

Good News about Operating after suspension or revocation in the District of Columbia

The good news is that most prosecutors in the District of Columbia usually will offer diversion, a remedy, or a favorable plea for first time offenders and some repeat offenders.  However, please do not try to do this on your own (in other words hire a lawyer) because the wrong plea or wrong deal can cause your license to be suspended or revoked for even a greater period of time.


Rollins and Chan Law Firm

419 7th Street, NW Suite 405
Washington DC, 20004
United States (US)
Phone: 202-455-5610
Secondary phone: 855-816-0953
Fax: 202-452-5900
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