Driving with an expired driver's license is not the same as driving while license suspended (DWLS). A suspended license means that, for some reason, the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DHSMV) has taken away your driving privilege. This is normally for financial reasons, such as the failure to pay traffic citations. A suspension, revocation, or cancellation, is an action taken by the Department to put a stop to your ability to drive.
A driver's license expiration occurs naturally. Look at your Florida driver's license. It will have an expiration date printed on it. You must keep your driver's license current, therefore renewing your license before it expires.
If your license expires, you may not drive. If your license has been expired for less than 4 months and you are pulled over while driving a car, you will be issued a non-criminal traffic citation.
If your license has been expired for more than 4 months and you are pulled over while driving a car, you will be charged with a crime. You could be taken to jail or issued a promise to appear (PTA). However, the crime of driving with an expired license more than 4 months (Florida Statute sec. 322.03(5)) is a second-degree misdemeanor, punishable by up to 60 days in county jail.
If you are charged with the criminal offense, you should contact an attorney who handles criminal traffic cases. Convictions for criminal traffic offenses will result in points on your license. More importantly, a conviction for a criminal traffic offense is a conviction! That means that you will be considered to have a criminal conviction on your record. Nobody wants that stigma. Believe me.
Eric Matheny is a criminal defense attorney who represents clients charged with criminal traffic offenses in Miami-Dade and Broward.