Can I be convicted of Driving While License Suspended when I never had a Florida Driver's License?

I Never Had a Florida Driver's License - Driving While License Suspended or Revoked

DWLSR, or Driving While License Suspended or Revoked, is a common crime. We handle so many of these cases every year, that we're on a first name basis with the officer's in the Department of Administrative Review. That's where you go to apply for a hardship license when you driver's license is suspended or revoked. As most people know, your driver's license can be suspended for many reasons.
  • Not paying a traffic ticket
  • Failure to keep your car insurance valid
  • DUI
  • Drug Crimes
  • Failure to pay child support.
  • Too many points in a certain number of months - like 12 points in 12 months gets you a 30 day suspension.
DWLSR convictions can cause you not only to have a continued license suspension but also to be deemed a Habitual Traffic Offender, or HTO. HTO suspensions last for 5 years. You are ineligible to apply for a hardship license until after the first year.

But what if you never had a valid Florida driver's license?

driving on suspended license How can they convict you of Driving on Suspended License when you never had one? Unfortunately for us here in Clearwater Florida, they can. But if you lived in Miami, they couldn't. A recent 3rd DCA case, which includes Miami -Dade County, says the Court can't convict you of DWLSR if you never had a valid Florida driver's license. The Court said instead of Driving on Suspended License, the defendant could only be convicted of driving with No Valid Driver's License. No Valid Driver's License is only a 2nd degree misdemeanor. But the 2nd DCA, which includes Pasco, Pinellas, and Hillsborough counties, says you can be convicted for Driving on License Suspended - even if you never had a Florida Driver's License. The 2nd DCA says that the terms "driving privilege" and "driver's license" are interchangeable terms. That means that if you "driver's license" is suspended or revoked, than it follows that your "driving privilege" would be suspended or revoked too. Most of the laws on Driving While Suspended use the term "driver's license." But the HTO statute, in only ONE PART which talks about hardship licenses, uses the term "driving privilege." But that's not what the law says. The law for Driving on Suspended License, specifically says:
"any person whose driver license or driving privilege has been canceled, suspended, or revoked, except a “habitual traffic offender”.
The 2nd DCA, whose rulings control our local courts in New Port Richey, specifically uses the Habitual Traffic Offender statute in their argument that the terms are interchangeable. But the law on Driving While Suspended, specifically EXCLUDES, habitual traffic offenders. Because of the conflict between the Florida District Courts of Appeal, the Miami case will most likely go to the Florida Supreme Court to interpret the law. But in the meantime - if you are caught Driving on a Suspended License in Pasco or Pinellas counties, you will need a good DWLSR attorney to argue your case for you. We've successfully handled 100's of Driving While License Suspended cases. Most of the time we are able to get the person's driver's license back. Assuming that they had a valid license to begin with.

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Former State Prosecutor — Tampa & Clearwater, FL 15+ Years Experience
Dan is a hands-on advocate who will keep you informed about your case and educated about your options. Despite the number of cases he has handled, no case is ever a number to Dan. Read More

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