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Driving Offenses

Driving Without a Driver’s License

Vehicle Code 12500

Driving without a driver’s license can be filed as a misdemeanor or an infraction. An infraction is less severe and may lead to just a small fine.

Bringing your valid drivers’ license to Court can also limit the fines you pay and avoid a conviction.

Driving with a Suspended Driver’s License

Vehicle Code 14601

If you are caught driving after your license was suspended by the DMV or the court, a misdemeanor offense may apply. This could lead to fines and fees, surcharges and penalties depending on why your driver’s license was initially suspended. The penalties may be much higher based on why your license was suspended

For example, if your license was suspended because of a DUI conviction, DON’T RISK DRIVING!.

I always warn my clients NEVER drive on a suspended license if your license was suspended because of a DUI—if caught, you can easily do jail time and pay thousands of dollars worth of fees.

Vehicle Code Section 20002

If you hit another vehicle or damage property and then leave the scene of the accident—without exchanging information, a hit and run charge may apply.

Most Hit and Runs are charged as a misdemeanor under California vehicle code 20002.

You could face up to six months in jail and pay up to $1000 in fines –on top of having to pay restitution to the victims. Unfortunately, your insurance premiums will be increased if convicted. If there are injuries at the scene of the accident, and you left, the charge could be elevated to a felony. This could lead to a fine of up to $10,000 and at least a year in prison.

Vehicle Code 23109

California has been cracking down on street racing crimes –and trying to be Fast and Furious can cost you a fortune…

Vehicle code 23109, also known as speed contest or exhibition of speed—can lead to $1000 in fines, up to 90 days in jail and your vehicle being impounded for 30 days as well.

Misdemeanor charges may apply for reckless driving defined as willfully disregarding the safety of other people or property. This too carries a penalty of up to 90 days in jail and fines as high as $1000 in addition to fees, surcharges and penalties. This could bring your total cost to more than $2000 and you will be unable to hide this conviction from your insurance company.

This conviction can stay on your driving record for up to 10 years and insurance premiums spike between 20% and 50%.

California’s Vehicular Manslaughter Law:

Vehicular manslaughter is simply killing someone by driving negligently.

Penal Code 192(c)(1)

Vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence is described in Penal Code 192(c)(1) PC. The Elements the prosecutor must prove are:

1. While driving a vehicle, you committed a misdemeanor or an infraction, or else committed a lawful act in a manner that might cause death;

2. The act you committed was dangerous to human life under the circumstances;

3. You committed that act with gross negligence; and

4. Your act caused the death of another person.10

If someone is killed—and the person driving the car was committing an act that was a felony, the person could be charged with Penal Code 187—felony murder.

And if the allegation is vehicular manslaughter was committed while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, then a person would be charged with either gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated or vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated.

Also, texting and driving—if someone is killed you can be charged with vehicular manslaughter.

And…Speeding and crashing and killing someone—can lead to a charge of vehicular manslaughter.;

Penalties

The penalties under California's vehicular manslaughter law depend on whether gross negligence or ordinary negligence is alleged.

Gross negligence is a wobbler—and can be charged as a misdemeanor or felony.

The maximum misdemeanor sentence for vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence is one (1) year in county jail—and the maximum felony sentence is six (6) years in state prison.6

Ordinary negligence is usually charged as a misdemeanor and the maximum sentence is one year in county jail. Also, always keep in mind DMV consequences—there are lengthy suspension periods associated with these convictions.

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