Driving is a privilege, not a right. That is why there are many laws that cover both the car owner and the vehicle to ensure order on the road. Among those regulations is the California Vehicle Code 1200a VC, which states that motorists must own a valid driver's license to be able to hit the road. Violation of such VC will either lead to an infraction or misdemeanor case, each of which carries its own degrees of punishment.
There are several characteristics that constitute a valid DL. First, the state in which the motorist is an official resident must be the one who issued the license. This essentially means that California accepts international or out-of-state driver's licenses. However, this only applies to tourists. A California driver's license is a must for all state citizens; otherwise, the DL will be deemed invalid. Second, drivers must meet the age requirements set by the government. For visitors, they must be 18 years old and above to be able to drive. Third, the license must match with the type of transportation the motorist is using. For instance, a motorcycle driver must own a license for motorcycles; he cannot use his motorcycle license for when he is driving another type of vehicle. It is best to find other references to see which type of license covers your vehicle.
It is important to take note that these are only the basic concepts of the VC. There are many exemptions to which the law acknowledges. But even with those special considerations, there are still many different ways that an individual can violate the 12500a VC, such as:
- The defendant never applied for a driver's license;
- The defendant's DL has expired;
- The defendant is a California citizen but has not yet applied for a state-issued DL within the allotted period; and
- The defendant is an illegal immigrant and thus unable to qualify for a California DL.
Punishments for Violation of Vehicle Code 12500a VC
Law enforcement will give citations to individuals who violate this code. If that does happen, the person will be asked to appear in court where he/she will be either sued for a misdemeanor or an infraction offense. First-time violators will most likely face an infraction charge, where they will pay a fine not exceeding $250. On the other hand, repeat violators will most likely face a misdemeanor charge. If the defendant or his/her lawyer fails to show up in court, then the judge may file a bench warrant of arrest. Meanwhile, if the defendant appears before the judge and is proven guilty, then the court will impose these punishments:
- A mandatory 6-months county jail sentence; and
- Pay $1,000 at maximum.
Suspended License - Vehicle Code 14601.1(a) VC
Driving with an invalid DL is different from driving on a suspended license. The latter bears heavier legal consequences than the former. This is due to the fact that the court only suspends a person's DL if the driver has been proven guilty of committing a serious offense under state driving laws. Common instances that lead to revoked driver's licenses are:
- Driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs;
- Condemned for reckless driving; and
- Being mentally and physically incapable to drive properly.
The punishments that the driver will receive for violating this statute will depend on the reason why their license was revoked. For instance, a reckless driver on a suspended license will face up to 3 years of informal probation, 6 months of jail time, and pay a fine of $1,000.
How To Check Driver's License Status
Perhaps you have recently been arrested for violating road laws or your license suspension period just ended. It is of utmost importance to immediately see if your driving privilege has been canceled or not. Fortunately, there are a few simple ways to check the status of your California driver's license:
- Contact the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) California and ask for your driving records;
- Visit the official DMV California website;
- Go to your local DMV branch and consult with a staff; and
- Send an IMF 1125 form to the main office of the DMV.
In the introductory paragraph, we stated that driving is a privilege, not a right. Being able to drive wherever and whenever you want is a luxury that people often take for granted. Nevertheless, it is a luxury that people have the right to enjoy responsibly. If you have been cited for a violation of the VC 12500a or VC 14601.1a, your fun days of unexpected road trips and peaceful journey to work are at stake. Thus, getting a criminal defense lawyer is the wisest decision you may ever make in this situation. They will help you save your driving privilege as well as avoid painstaking penalties. With all the rule exemptions involving both codes, it may be best to leave it in the hands of the Law Office of Raoul Severo to sort it out for you.
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