Friday, September 14, 2012

Boise Criminal Defense Attorney (208) 472-2383 Idaho Criminal Lawyers

DWP  and Notice of License Suspension
I mentioned in last week's blog that as a Boise Criminal Defense Attorney one of the most common questions I get has to do with DWP and license suspension.  In today's legal analysis I will discuss how you get notice of your suspended license and what happens if you don't get it or you disregard it.

Very frequently people will call my office and say that they were pulled over for some reason or another only to find out that they were driving without privileges and they had no idea that their license was suspended.  The usual question to criminal attorneys is, "Can I be guilty if I never had notice of the suspension?"  The answer to this is yes.

Upon hearing this answer from a Boise Criminal Attorney, people often cry, "Unfair!"  We have all heard that ignorance of the law is no excuse and that is applicable here.  The Idaho Code says that you are presumed to have notice of a suspended license if, you have actual knowledge, you have received oral or written notice by qualified personnel, if the notice was mailed to your home or a reasonable person would have knowledge that their license is suspended.

Actual Notice
The two situations I want to discuss here are the last two.  Recently, I had an individual call my office.  She was very unhappy because she had been pulled over for a traffic infraction.  It was then that she discovered that she was driving without privileges.  She said that she had moved and had forwarded her mail.  For all intents and purposes, she appears to have done everything right, right?  Wrong.

When the Idaho Code talks about notice going to your home, it means the address on file at the Department of Motor Vehicles.  If you move and forward your mail without changing your address at the DMV you are potentially setting yourself up, not only to be cited with a criminal charge, but you are taking the chance that you will get a DWP because you didn't get actual notice of the underlying suspension.  In fact, in Idaho, you have 30 days to notify the DMV of your new address and if you don't you can be cited for failing to do so.

The individual I spoke of felt she was justified because she had notified the US Postal Service of her change of address.  Even if she didn't notify the DMV the notice should have been forwarded to her and she never got it.  You can forward your mail for up to 1 year.  However, after 6 months, you have to request a continuance.  But all this is an academic point because she never notified the DMV of her change of address.

Is there anyway to get passed the "I didn't receive notice"?  Most likely not.  The fourth presumption of notice I mentioned above says that a reasonable person would have known their license was suspended.  This is a legal catch all.  Unless you can show that your notice was not actually mailed to your accurate address on file with the DMV and that there was no way that you had or should have had knowledge of the suspension, you will be presumed to have notice.  This leads you to have to deal with the underlying suspension and avoiding that slippery slope of DWP that criminal attorneys are always talking about.

If you have been charged with a DWP, DUI or any other crime in Idaho and you need to speak to a Boise Criminal Lawyer, give us a call, (208) 472-2383 and see what we can do for you.  You will be glad you did.


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