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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2012

    Default Driving on an Expired License

    My question involves a driver's license issued by the State of: Florida

    I was pulled over the other day because of expired tags on the vehicle I was driving (I was not speeding/etc, that was the only reason I got pulled over). With regards to that, there was simply miscommunication between myself and my wife: I thought it had been done, and it had not. It was not under my name, and due to financing it was under my father-in-law's name. It has since been taken care of.

    However, during this process, the police officer noticed that my drivers license was slightly over 6 months expired. I literally had no idea that this was the case, as I had not really looked at it in quite some time, and thought that I had at least another year left on it. I did not personally see or receive a letter in the mail from Florida notifying me of an upcoming drivers license expiration...otherwise that would have been taken care of. I was no arrested, however I was given a criminal traffic violation ticket and a court date next Tuesday. I've noticed that it is possible that I get up to 60 days in jail and/or up to a $1000 fine.

    Also, the first thing that I did when I got home was to renew my license, literally with 30 minutes of being pulled over. The tag issue was also taken care of at around the same time by my father-in-law. So I am now driving with a valid license using a car with up to date tags.

    I have absolutely no record in the state of Florida, no criminal record in any state or country, and the only issue I've ever had was a minor speeding ticket when I was in high school in another state, over 15 years ago. I have hyper-anxiety issues, and this has been literally driving me insane with worry, however I cannot afford to hire an attorney. Both myself and my wife are teachers with two small children, and between a rough medical stretch and daycare costs, we barely make it by month to month.

    In court, what are the typical procedures for a case like this? Should I simply plead "No contest"? In a case like this do I need to ask for a public defender? I tried one other site, however the only advice I was given was to hire a lawyer...again, even though I make what appears to be a decent salary, because of costs and debt there is no possible way for me to hire one, and my two concerns are that I cannot afford to spend jail time (my wife is both pregnant and has been in a heavy state of depression lately to the point where I worry about the well being of my two small children should anything happen), and I do not want this to negatively affect any future potential jobs....I am not planning on ever working a job that requires any form of license.

    Thank you for any help/advice that you can give, and I apologize if this is in the wrong forum.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2010

    Default Re: Driving on an Expired License

    Pleading no contest is in Florida for practical matters the same as pleading guilty. Plead not guilty, and beg the courts forgiveness and show your prompt addressing of the issue. You're still guilty but the judge may have pity.

    By the way, you should have gotten a warning on the expiration (you have 18 months prior to the actual expiration to do so). Of course, the major reason you probably didn't get one is you failed to promptly notify the DMV of your correct address.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2012

    Default Re: Driving on an Expired License

    No, I am located at the address that is and has been stated on my drivers license. If they send it a full 18 months prior, then that would have been when I was wrapping up a contracting job overseas with the US Navy...I had my mail forwarded during that time, but for about 10 months before my birthday I was located at the address shown on my license (and still owned the property while I was away). Regardless, I'm not surprised if the fact that I did not get it has little bearing in the court.

    Also, and this may just be that I have almost not experience with the court system at all, isn't pleading Not Guilty and then showing that I addressed the situation proof that I am guilty? I don't see how someone can even claim Not Guilty for something like this as it is pretty obvious whether or not you are current on your license? Is pleading Not Guilty simply implying a lack of intent on my part? (which does happen to be the case in this instance)

    What is the procedure for pleading Not Guilty? Does that typically send it into future court dates? With my record/situation, what is the likely outcome of pleading Guilty (or no-contest)? My #1 concern is avoiding any jail time for this. Obviously I would like to limit the severity of the punishment as much as possible, but again, I have no money to hire a lawyer, and I am not familiar with the nuances of the law if a Not Guilty plea would drag the case out. With something like this am I even entitled to a Public Defender, or would I even need one?

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Sep 2010

    Default Re: Driving on an Expired License

    You plead guilty, you'll be found guilty and sentenced. If jail is a possibility (i.e., the prosecutor won't waive it) then if you are indigent and can not afford a lawyer, you can get a public defender. A public defender is for those without the means to pay for a lawyer not some free default for those unwilling to spend the money.

    The case is not going to drag out. Pleading not guilty just means that the state has to prove their case. The plea is not "asking if you did it." The guilty or no contest just indicates that you don't want to mount a defense. It's a short cut to a conviction.

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