According to Section 321.218 of the Iowa Code, a person whose driver’s license or operating privilege has been denied, canceled, suspended, or revoked, commits a simple misdemeanor. This offense is punishable by:
- up to 30 days in jail (Section 903.1(1)(a) of the Iowa Code);
- a fine between $250 and $1,500 (Section 321.218(1) of the Iowa Code);
- an extension of the license suspension or revocation. (Section 321.218(3)(a) of the Iowa Code).
Readers of my blog know, that a police officer cannot stop a driver without a reason. At the same time, every day, officers stop a decent number of drivers for driving while suspended. Why does that happen? It happens because police officers often run license plate checks when they are on patrol. When a license plate check shows that a vehicle owner’s license was suspended, a policeman stops the car.
Is this a valid reason for the traffic stop? The Iowa Supreme Court said yes. In State v. Vance, 790 N.W.2d 775, 781-82 (Iowa 2010), the Iowa Supreme Court held that an officer has reasonable suspicion to initiate an investigatory stop of a vehicle to investigate whether the driver has a valid driver’s license when the officer knows the registered owner of the vehicle has a suspended license, and the officer is unaware of any evidence or circumstances indicating the registered owner is not the driver of the vehicle.
The court concluded that because:
- it is reasonable for an officer to infer the registered owner of the vehicle will do the vast amount of the driving;
- that inference is sufficiently reasonable to generate reasonable suspicion for an investigatory stop to resolve the ambiguity as to whether criminal activity is afoot.
That is why we strongly encourage you not to drive a vehicle if your license or operating privilege has been denied, canceled, suspended, or revoked. The possible way out from this situation could be to apply for an Iowa Restricted License.
If your license was suspended or revoked, feel free to call me at Stowers and Sarcone at 515.224.7446. I will be able to help you!