The Criminal Consequences of 'Driving While License Invalid' in Texas
Assuming you have a valid Texas driver’s license and car insurance, you may drive a properly registered and inspected vehicle on the roadways and highways of Texas so long as you obey the rules of the road. If, however, your driver’s license has been suspended, you are no longer legally authorized to operate a vehicle on Texas roadways. A suspended driver’s license in the state can be incredibly difficult to manage—especially in the Houston area where public transportation can be inconvenient and unreliable. If, however, you operate a motor vehicle while your license is invalid, you could potentially be arrested and taken to jail.
Why Could Your Driver’s License Be Suspended? There are a number of reasons your driver’s license could be suspended. Perhaps you were convicted of a drug offense, whether possession of marijuana, possession of a dangerous drug or possession of a controlled substance. Even if your vehicle was in no way connected to the offense, your driver’s license could be suspended. You may also have a suspended driver’s license because you were arrested for Driving While Intoxicated (DWI). [These license suspensions are determined by an Administrative License Revocation Hearing.] If you are responsible for an accident which resulted in serious injury or property damage, or you are convicted for fleeing or attempting to elude a police office, your driver’s license could be suspended. If you are a provisional license holder and you have committed two or more moving violations within a one-year period, your driver’
If you are stopped on suspicion of driving while impaired and you refuse to give a breathalyzer test, you license will automatically be suspended for a specific length of time. If you do submit to a breathalyzer test and your BAC is over 0.08 percent, your license will also be suspended for a specific length of time. If you have suspensions in other states, your Texas driver’s license could be suspended. Perhaps you permitted the unlawful or fraudulent use of a license—if so, you could have your driver’s license suspended. If you have numerous traffic violations—including DWLI—which result in a specific number of points against your driver’s license, then DPS will suspend your driver’s license.
Finally, if you are a habitually reckless or negligent operator of a vehicle or you are considered a “Habitual Violator” of traffic laws, your Texas driver’s license could be suspended. Habitual violator means you have four or more convictions for separate moving violations within a twelve-months period, or seven convictions for separate moving violations within a two-year period. The Department of Public Safety may also revoke your driver’s license if:
- They determine you are not capable of safely operating a motor vehicle;
- You have failed to comply with the terms of a citation in another state;
- You have failed to provide medical records, or you have failed to undergo an exam as required by a medical advisory board;
- You have failed to appear for traffic citations, or
- You have failed to pass an examination.
What Class of Crime is DWLI (Driving While License Invalid)? Driving While License Invalid is described under Texas Transportation Code, Title 7, §521.457. If you operate a motor vehicle on a Texas roadway or highway when:
- Your driver’s license has been canceled and no subsequent license issued;
- Your driving privileges have been suspended or revoked;
- Your driver’s license has expired during a period of suspension, or
- Your renewal application was denied.
If your driver’s license has been suspended, cancelled, revoked, expired during a period of suspension or your renewal application was denied and you are driving, you have committed the offense of DWLI. Saying you did not receive notice of a suspension is not considered a defense to the crime of DWLI. Actual notice is presumed if the notice was mailed in accordance with the law.
What are the Criminal Consequences of DWLI? Operating a motor vehicle without a valid license is a Class C misdemeanor, punishable by a fine of up to $500. Some courts may impose additional penalties for the offense of DWLI, including community service. A police officer has the discretion to either arrest an individual for the offense of DWLI or to simply issue a citation. If this is a second offense—you have a prior DWLI conviction—you will face a Class B misdemeanor, which is punishable by up to 180 days and jail and/or a $2,000 fine.
If you are operating a vehicle without a valid license and have no car insurance at the same time—even if it is a first-offense DWLI—you could be charged with a Class B misdemeanor and can face up to 180 days in jail and/or a fine as large as $2,000. If you are arrested for DWLI and you have a prior conviction for DWI, or Intoxication Assault/Manslaughter, you will face a Class B misdemeanor and will likely be arrested and taken to jail. If convicted, you will face up to 180 days in jail and a fine as large as $2,000.
What are the Potential Defenses to DWLI? As noted, saying you did not receive notice of suspension is not a defense to DWLI so long as the notice was property mailed. But—it can be a problem for the Harris County District Attorney to prove that a notice of suspension was actually mailed. After all, the only people who could definitively verify the mailing of such a notice would be an individual who works for the Texas DPS. And, even if the person shows up at your trial, how will he or she prove the notification of suspension was mailed? To use this affirmative defense, you will have to testify that you did not receive a notice of suspension.
How a Sullo & Sullo Houston Criminal Lawyer Can Help - If you are arrested for DWLI, take your charges very seriously. Your primary goal will be to avoid Harris County Jail and Harris County Criminal Records. If you must appear in Harris County Criminal Court or speak to a Harris County District Attorney, having a Sullo & Sullo Houston Criminal Defense Attorney by your side can make a significant difference in the outcome of your charges. A Sullo & Sullo Houston Criminal Defense Lawyer working hard on your behalf means you have a highly experienced professional in your corner who will ensure your rights and your future are thoroughly protected.