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What are the consequences for getting in a car accident while your license is suspended in California?

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By Yosi Yahoudai
Founder and Managing Partner

If you are involved in a car accident while your license is suspended in California and are convicted in a court of law, you could face a fine anywhere from $300 and $1,000 or you could be sentenced to prison for anywhere between five and 60 days. For second and third offenses, you could face a fine up to $2,000 or up to one year in prison.

In California, driving with a suspended license is against the law. If you are involved in a car accident while your license is suspended, you may face the following consequences:

  1. Criminal Charges: Driving with a suspended license can lead to criminal charges. Depending on the circumstances, you may be charged with a misdemeanor or, in more serious cases, a felony. The specific charge will depend on factors such as the reason for the license suspension and your prior driving record.
  2. Additional License Suspension: Getting into an accident while your license is already suspended can result in an extended suspension period. This means you may have to wait even longer before you can legally drive again.
  3. Fines and Penalties: If convicted of driving with a suspended license, you may be subject to fines and penalties imposed by the court. The amount of the fines can vary based on the specific circumstances of your case and any previous violations.
  4. Potential Jail Time: In some cases, individuals caught driving with a suspended license may be sentenced to jail or probation, especially if they have a history of license-related violations.
  5. Increased Insurance Rates: Your car insurance rates are likely to increase if you’re involved in an accident while driving with a suspended license. Insurance companies often view such drivers as high-risk, leading to higher premiums.
  6. Civil Liability: Regardless of your license status, if you are at fault for the accident, you may still be held civilly liable for any injuries or property damage resulting from the accident. This means you may have to pay for the damages to the other party involved in the accident.
  7. Vehicle Impoundment: Law enforcement may impound your vehicle if you are caught driving with a suspended license. You’ll be responsible for the costs associated with towing and storing your vehicle.

It’s essential to consult with an attorney who specializes in traffic law if you find yourself in this situation. They can provide you with guidance on how to handle your specific case and work to minimize the potential legal consequences. Additionally, taking steps to reinstate your suspended license and comply with any court-ordered requirements is crucial to avoid future legal issues.

How do you get your license back after it is suspended in California?

Getting your driver’s license reinstated after suspension in California involves several steps, which may vary based on the reason for the suspension. Here is a general guide:

  1. Serve the Suspension Period: First, you must serve the full period of your suspension or revocation.
  2. Fulfill Court Requirements: If your suspension was due to a DUI or other legal issues, you might need to complete court-ordered programs, like a DUI school or traffic school.
  3. Pay Fines and Fees: You will likely need to pay any outstanding fines and fees related to your suspension. This may include court fees, penalties, or costs associated with required courses.
  4. SR-22 Insurance: For certain offenses, like DUIs, you will be required to obtain an SR-22 form from your insurance company. This form proves that you have the minimum liability coverage required by California law.
  5. Reapply for Your License: If your license was revoked (as opposed to suspended), you might need to reapply for a new license, which includes passing the written and driving tests.
  6. Visit the DMV: Go to your local DMV office. You may need to schedule an appointment. Bring all necessary documents, such as proof of identity and proof of insurance.
  7. Take Tests if Required: Depending on the reason for suspension and the length of time your license was suspended, you might need to retake the written and/or driving tests.
  8. Pay Reinstatement Fee: You will have to pay a reinstatement fee. The fee amount varies depending on the reason for the suspension.
  9. Install Ignition Interlock Device (IID): For some DUI offenses, you might be required to install an IID in your vehicle, which prevents the car from starting if it detects alcohol on your breath.
  10. Follow-up and Compliance: Ensure that you follow all the rules and regulations post-reinstatement to avoid any future suspensions.

Remember, the exact requirements can vary based on the individual circumstances of your suspension. It’s a good idea to check with the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) or a legal professional for specific guidance related to your situation.

What should I do if I was involved in a car accident and the other car’s driver’s license is suspended?

If you are involved in a car accident and discover that the other driver has a suspended license, you should follow these steps:

  1. Ensure Safety: First, make sure everyone involved is safe. Move to a safe location if necessary and call emergency services if there are any injuries.
  2. Call the Police: It’s important to contact the police immediately in such a situation. A police report is crucial, especially when dealing with a driver who has a suspended license.
  3. Exchange Information: Exchange contact and insurance information with the other driver, but also make a note of the fact that their license is suspended.
  4. Document the Scene: Take photos of the accident scene, the damage to both vehicles, and any relevant road signs or signals. This documentation can be vital for insurance claims and potential legal proceedings.
  5. Notify Your Insurance Company: Inform your insurance company about the accident as soon as possible. Provide them with all the details, including the fact that the other driver has a suspended license.
  6. Do Not Admit Fault: Be cautious about what you say at the scene. Admitting fault or liability can complicate insurance claims and legal proceedings.
  7. Follow Up on the Police Report: Obtain a copy of the police report for your records. This report will have the details of the accident and the fact that the other driver was operating with a suspended license.
  8. Seek Legal Advice: Given the complexity of dealing with an unlicensed driver, it might be wise to consult with an attorney, especially if there are injuries or significant property damage.
  9. Keep Records: Keep all records related to the accident, including medical bills, repair costs, and any correspondence with your insurance company.
  10. Follow Instructions from Your Insurance Company: Your insurance company will guide you through their process. Follow their instructions carefully for claims or any further actions.

Remember, each accident is unique, and the steps you need to take may vary based on your location, the specifics of the accident, and the insurance policies involved. It’s always best to err on the side of caution and seek professional advice when needed.

Call Our California Personal Injury Firm Today

Being involved in a car accident can be a life-changing experience, especially if the other party involved was irresponsible and driving a vehicle when they should not have. When you are injured due to no fault of your own, you have a right in the State of California to sue the responsible party to collect damages for repair bills, medical bills, pain and suffering, loss of income, loss of enjoyment of life, and several other considerations. Call our office today at (877) 862-4317 for a free consultation so we can inform you of your best path forward. We fight aggressively for the rights of our clients and look forward to representing you and your family in this fight.

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About the Author
Yosi Yahoudai is a founder and the managing partner of J&Y. His practice is comprised primarily of cases involving automobile and motorcycle accidents, but he also represents people in premises liability lawsuits, including suits alleging dangerous conditions of public property, third-party criminal conduct, and intentional torts. He also has expertise in cases involving product defects, dog bites, elder abuse, and sexual assault. He earned his Bachelor of Arts from the University of California and is admitted to practice in all California State Courts, and the United States District Court for the Southern District of California. If you have any questions about this article, you can contact Yosi by clicking here.