Operation Under Suspension
Ask any top Stamford criminal defense attorney and they will agree that the charge of operation under suspension is one of the most frequently charged crimes in Connecticut. There are many different paths to having your operating privileges placed under suspension by the DMV. The basic elements of this crime are very simple: You operate a motor vehicle while the DMV has placed your operating privileges under suspension. In many cases the DMV suspends people’s drivers’ licenses as a result of committing motor vehicle offenses such as evading responsibility, DWI/DUI, or reckless driving. In other cases your license can be suspended for getting too many moving violations (points). The most difficult to comprehend scenario for operation under suspension is where undocumented aliens who have never even had a drivers’ license have their “operation privileges” suspended by the DMV and are charged with operation under suspension even though they never had a drivers’ license.
Many people mistakenly assume that these are like traffic tickets and don’t take the case seriously. However, Stamford criminal defense lawyers will tell you that an arrest for operation under suspension is in most cases a misdemeanor level crime which will give you a permanent criminal record and expose you to jail time and very significant fines and periods of probation. Even worse as we will discuss at greater length below in some circumstances operation under suspension requires a mandatory minimum jail sentence which can either be 30 days or 90 days depending on the situation. If you have been arrested for operation under suspension you need to retain the services of an experienced Stamford criminal attorney at the Law Offices of Allan F. Friedman to set up a free initial case consultation so discuss all the facts of your arrest and give you the best advice on the most effective course of action to try and have the charges against you dismissed.The DMV Fiasco and the Never Ending Suspension
Resolving operating under suspension charges requires a two pronged approach. The first part is fighting the criminal charge of operating under suspension in the criminal Court. The second part involves working with DMV to obtain a “restoration” of your operation privilege. Since every case is different we usually have to contact DMV directly to verify exactly why you have been placed under suspension and then work to clear those issues. Once all DMV issues have been resolved you need to mail in a $175 restoration fee to DMV and wait to receive a “restoration letter” in the mail. (Note – The DMV only restores operation privileges through the mail). In the vast majority of cases the State’s Attorney is going to want to see the restoration letter before taking action on your case. For first time offenders who are not charged with operation for suspension for a DUI/DWI often I am able to get the State to lower the charge down to a noncriminal offense where the client has obtained a restoration letter.DMV Additional Suspension for Pleading Guilty to Operating Under Suspension
The problem for those who plead guilty to operation under suspension is that a conviction triggers a further and additional suspension of your license. The specific duration of your suspension is unknown and dependent upon various factors such as your driving history and the type specific sub section of the operation under suspension statute that you plead guilty to. No you have not entered a real life episode of the HBO hit series “Game of Thrones” rather you are in the morass of the CT DMV. The only way to break the cycle of seemingly endless periods of license suspensions and fines and Court appearances is by getting together with your Stamford DMV and traffic ticket defense lawyer to develop a global solution to resolve all your DMV problems at the same time as the criminal Court case. This is the only way out of the never ending cycles of suspensions and the path to obtaining your drivers’ license so you can get on with your life.Part 1 – Undocumented Aliens A Dangerous Situation with the Trump Administration - The Undocumented Alien with No Drivers’ License Operating Under Suspension
In January of 2015 the Connecticut DMV began the long tedious process of issuing drivers licenses to undocumented aliens residing in Connecticut. This was obviously a huge step forward to solving a huge problem for our vast immigrant population in our State who are only seeking to find a way to get to work. However, with the massive influx of applicants the process can take up to a full year to actually obtain a drivers’ license from start to finish. In the meantime many undocumented aliens wind up in the never ending cycle of license privilege suspensions. In order to find a way out of this cycle of never ending suspensions and get your court cases resolved you should consult an experienced Stamford criminal lawyer to seek advice how to solve this mess.
Keep in mind that while an undocumented alien many not actually have a drivers’ license the State DMV will assign them a 300 series operator’s privilege number which is permanently assigned to them upon their first conviction for operation without a license. From that point forward every time you pick up a new traffic ticket or motor vehicle misdemeanor it will go on your Connecticut DMV 300 series driving record. Even though you may not yet have a valid Connecticut drivers’ license you are still accumulating a driving violations history. Many undocumented aliens have in the past mailed in tickets for driving without a license in violation of C.G.S.A. Section 14-36 and just paid the fine through the mail.
The problem is that under the provisions of section 14-215(b)(2)(B) anyone who has previously been convicted of two violations of any combination of either 14-36 or 14-215(a) shall for a third violation of 14-215a (Operation while under Suspension) be sentenced to up to a year in jail with a mandatory minimum 90 (ninety) days in jail. In my opinion this is a very harsh penalty for the undocumented alien is merely attempting to try to get to work. However, this is the law.
What all undocumented aliens need to know is that with the advent of the Trump administration is you are convicted of a third violation of 14-215(a) of 14-36 you face 90 days mandatory minimum jail time by law and while you are serving your time ICE will likely place an immigration detainer upon you which will initiate deportation proceedings. This is why it is very important for undocumented aliens to be very careful about driving without a license or multiple offenses of operation under suspension. In addition operation under suspension in most cases (with few exceptions) is a misdemeanor crime which itself would subject an undocumented alien to ICE deportation proceedings under the new standards of the Trump administration. For these reasons if you are an undocumented alien it is imperative that if you are charged with operation without a license or operation under suspension that you contact an experienced Stamford criminal defense attorney to defend you against the charges and take action to do whatever is possible to have the charges dismissed or reduced.
There are solutions to resolving these issues for undocumented aliens, however, it is a very complicated procedure as in most cases the State’s Attorney and Court is going to want to see you make some progress towards obtaining a valid drivers’ license which is a lengthy process. Additionally, it is impossible to actually obtain a valid drivers’ license until you have cleared up and resolved all of your existing suspensions. In most cases resolving these cases requires obtaining a detailed report from the DMV concerning all the reasons for the suspension and then working to resolve them one by one. Once we obtain a restoration of your operation privilege then we are in a position to work with the State’s Attorney to try and get your charges reduced down to a noncriminal charge such as 14-215b which will not effect your immigration status. Another option often employed for offenders with several previous convictions for 14-36 (no license) and or 14-215 (operation under suspension) is the use of the accelerated rehabilitation program.
In many cases our undocumented alien clients who are charged with operation under suspension are also facing additional misdemeanor charges at the same time such as evading responsibility; operation without insurance or DUI/DWI. No matter what the situation, we have handled every possible combination in our 30 years of experience defending undocumented aliens in Stamford in motor vehicle defense matters. With the Trump Administration’s objective to deport as many undocumented aliens as possible it is more important than ever that whenever you are charged with any criminal offense including the misdemeanor of operation under suspension that you hire a top Stamford criminal defense lawyer to resolve your case in a favorable manner.Part 2 – First Time Operating Under Suspension Offenders A. Non DUI/DWI Suspension
There are many different ways in which your drivers’ license can be suspended. Regardless of the path towards your suspension, if you are operating a motor vehicle while your drivers’ license is suspended you can face a misdemeanor charge of operation under suspension.
C.G.S.A. Section 14-140 Suspensions – These are administrative suspensions imposed by the DMV for a variety of reasons. If you drive while under a 14-140 suspension then you are in violation of C.G.S.A. section 14-215a . This crime is a misdemeanor for a first time offender. If your address listed on your drivers’ license is not current you may never even receive notice of your 14-140 suspension. This is why many clients were totally unaware that they were under a suspension when the Police pulled them over. Some reasons for the imposition of a 14-140 suspension include - if you fail to show up to court for a court date for a traffic infraction; if you fail to mail in a traffic infraction by the answer date; multiple speeding ticket offenders. Generally, resolving a 14-140 suspension requires the re-opening of the case that you failed to resolve that triggered the 14-140 suspension first. Once you have resolved the matter that triggered the 14-140 suspension then the next step is to send in a $175 restoration fee to DMV and your license will be re-instated. An experienced Stamford traffic ticket defense lawyer can in many cases have these charges of operation under suspension for a 14-140 suspension dismissed or reduced to a non- misdemeanor level infraction level offense. That is the preferred way of resolving these charges. An alternative fall back would be the use of the accelerated rehabilitation program for first time offenders but I would only consider that as a last resort after every other alternative has failed. If you have been arrested for a violation of C.G.S.A. Section 14-215a operation under suspension for a 14-140 suspension you should give us a call for a free consultation so we can review the exact circumstances of your license suspension and develop a plan to get you back on the road quickly and at a reasonable price.
C.G.S.A. Section 14-215 Suspensions – These are suspensions which are imposed by the DMV as a penalty for a violation of some criminal statute or motor vehicle law which carries a license suspension as part of the penalty. Some examples include reckless driving, operation without insurance, evading responsibility, operation under suspension, etc. In these situations you can’t just pay a re-opening fee or satisfy a ticket and have the suspension lifted as you can with the 14-140 suspension I described in the proceeding section. Rather, you must wait until your period of suspension is over. Then you have to send in the $175 restoration fee and your license is will be reinstated. If you operate a motor vehicle before your period of suspension is over you are guilty of the misdemeanor charge of C.G.S.A. Section 14-215 operation under suspension. Although this may seem like a trivial motor vehicle violation, you do not want to enter a guilty plea to this charge as it is a misdemeanor criminal offense and will leave you with a criminal record. You would be exposed to the possibility of jail time, probation and significant fines. In addition, you would face an additional period of license suspension from the DMV and your automotive liability insurance rates would rise dramatically as a result of a conviction for this crime. If you have been charged with operation under suspension in violation of C.G.S.A. Section 14-215 please contact our office at (203) 357-5555 to schedule a free initial consultation so we can review all of the facts of your particular case and plan a defense strategy to work to have the criminal charges against you either dismissed or reduced and guide you in the right direction to get your drivers’ license restored as quickly as possible and back on the road legally.
Every DWI arrest comes with a 45 day initial license suspension from the DMV followed by a period of time in which you must have an interlock device installed in your vehicle for a period of time. (The length of the interlock device requirement will vary depending on the level of alcohol in your system. Another factor is if you refused the chemical test). Also, if you are convicted of DUI/DWI C.G.S.A. Section 14-227a you will also face a license suspension from the DMV. Sadly, despite the repeated warnings a large number of motorists each year get behind the wheel during the period of their DUI/DWI related DMV suspension.
Driving beyond hours and geographic limitations of work permit is also a violation of 14-215 - also – driving a vehicle that is not equipped with an interlock device during your period of restriction is also a violation of 14-215.
For those who obtain work or school permits from the DMV it is important to realize that driving beyond the hours of your permit of in geographic areas beyond those authorized in the work permit is also considered operation under suspension in violation of 14-215. In addition, if you are required to drive a vehicle with an interlock device this means that you can’t operate any other vehicle – (such as a dealer’s loaner car or rental car while your car is being repaired) etc. The operation of any other vehicle except the vehicle which has the interlock device installed would also be a violation of 14-215 for which you would face the mandatory minimum 30 days in jail.Defending Violations of 14-215(c)
This is a very serious offense that has significant consequences. State’s Attorneys and Judges place particular attention to the enforcement of this statute and the prosecution of these offenses. The reason why is that they all dread the thought of someone who was previously convicted of a DUI/DWI going out while still under suspension and killing someone in an accident in another alcohol related incident. If you are charged with a violation of operation under suspension for a DUI/DWI C.G.S.A Section 14-215(c) you are going to need the services of a very talented and experienced Stamford criminal defense attorney.
Driving while suspended for a DUI/DWI in violation of Section 14-215(c) is not only a misdemeanor offense that carries a penalty of up to a year in jail and significant periods of probation but it also has the dreaded mandatory minimum 30 days in jail which only a Judge of the Superior Court can reduce for proof of special “mitigating circumstances.” Obviously, if you are charged with this offense you are going to need the services of a gifted attorney who is able to come up with a good argument why you should not have to serve the mandatory minimum 30 days in jail because in your case there were “mitigating circumstances.”
Generally speaking when defending C.G.S.A. Section 14-215(c) allegations there is limited capacity for a defense strategy. The elements of the crime are fairly basic and straightforward for the State to establish. 1. Were you operating a motor vehicle? 2. Was your license under suspension at the time for a DUI/DWI? These elements are fairly easy for the state to establish provided that the arresting Police officer properly identified you as the operator and there is no genuine issue of fact that there may have been a misidentification of the operator. For this reason in defending these allegations the primary focus must be on the issue of mitigation which is really another way of saying that we must come up with a fantastic argument for leniency to give the Judge a good reason to give you a break. In order to build a strong argument of mitigation it all starts with coming in for a free consultation and learning a lot about your life and the reasons that lead you to get behind the wheel of a car wheel under suspension. Armed with the details about your personal life history and the facts concerning your arrest we can put our 30 years of experience to work to develop an effective argument for mitigation on your behalf.Part C – Multiple Offender 14-215 - Operation Under Suspension
For those who have previous convictions for operation under suspension a subsequent charge for operation under suspension means exposure to significantly enhanced penalties which range all the way up to the level of a felony charge for a 3rd time violation of C.G.S.A. Section 14-215(c) punishable by a mandatory minimum one year in jail. Any combination of two driving without a license C.G.S.A. Section 14-36 or operation under suspension C.G.S.A. Section 14-215(a) would mean that a third charge of operation under suspension in violation of C.G.S.A. Section 14-215(a) would not only be a misdemeanor offense punishable by up to a year in jail but it would also include a mandatory minimum 90 days in jail. The concept here was that over time the penalties for these crimes have been steadily increased and become more severe because drunk drivers who’s licenses were under suspension have been responsible for several very serious highly publicized incidents in which fatalities or significant injuries occurred. For this reason State’s Attorneys prosecute these situations with multiple offender operation under suspension cases very vigorously. For this reason it is imperative that if you have been charged with a subsequent violation of operation under suspension that you retain an experienced Stamford criminal defense attorney to employ the best possible defense strategy to mitigate the situation and get the best possible disposition.Collateral Consequences of a Operation Under Suspension Conviction – Insurance Problems – Employment Problems
Any conviction for operation under suspension will become a part of your permanent driving abstract. This will have significant effects on your auto liability insurance with substantial rate increases and possible termination of your policy. In addition, this kind of conviction would preclude you from many areas of employment such as working as an Uber driver or obtaining a CDL or working for many types of employment that require driving as part of the occupation such as UPS and Fed Ex, etc.
For those who are convicted with the misdemeanor level of operation while under suspension that misdemeanor conviction is a criminal record that can have a long lasting impact upon your future ability to secure employment. A misdemeanor conviction for operation under suspension can also have effects upon your ability to secure a mortgage or a lease. For these reasons it is important to treat any charge of operation under suspension seriously and hire an experienced Stamford criminal lawyer to take every possible means possible to have the charge dismissed or reduced to a noncriminal motor vehicle charge.Why Hire the Law Offices of Allan F. Friedman?
- Arrests take place at all hours so we are available 24/7.
- Over 30 years of experience defending operation under suspension charges.
- We will fight to do everything possible to keep you from getting a criminal record and work to get you back on the road as quickly as possible.
- Free initial consultation.
- Reasonable rates / payment plans.
- Our core value is “Clients come first” – we always will take the time to get to know you as a person, learn all of the facts of your case, with the objective to obtain the best possible outcome.
If you have been arrested for operating under suspension in Greenwich, New Canaan , Norwalk , Stamford, Cos Cob, Darien, Fairfield, Westport, Wilton, Weston, Bridgeport and throughout the County of Fairfield do not hesitate to contact the Law Offices of Allan F. Friedman. Call Attorney Friedman at (203) 357-5555 to schedule your free initial consultation and case evaluation – we are available 24/7 to respond to urgent matters. Or you can contact us online for a prompt response.