There are important differences between being criminally charged with Driving while License Suspended (DWLS) with knowledge and No Valid Driver's License (NVDL).
DWLS with knowledge is a second-degree misdemeanor for first-time offenders, and a first-degree misdemeanor for subsequent offenders. In addition, you could be charged with Felony DWLS, a third-degree felony, for a third or subsequent offense, or for driving on a Habitual Traffic Offender (HTO) suspension.
DWLS with knowledge means your license has been suspended, revoked, or cancelled by the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DHSMV) and that you had knowledge of such suspension. Knowledge can be proven by either you having received a prior citation for DWLS and have yet to clear it up, admitting to the officer (or in open court) you had knowledge, by receiving notice from DHSMV that you were going to be suspended, or having judgments against you.
Receiving any combination of three DWLS with knowledge charges (regardless of whether you are adjudicated/convicted or receive a "withhold of adjudication") or being adjudicated on DWLS without knowledge (the non-criminal traffic infraction) can and will result in an HTO suspension for a period of five years.
On the other hand, NVDL is a second-degree misdemeanor. Being charged with NVDL simply means you were driving but did not have a valid license to drive in the state of Florida. The Prosecutor does not need to prove you had knowledge of the suspension; only that you were driving and did not have a valid license at the time, either because you have never had a license or because it is currently invalid for any reason. Unlike DWLS, any number of NVDL will not result in you being deemed HTO. NVDL will never count toward a HTO suspension.
Contact our office for a FREE consultation if you are facing one of these charges.
Also, read about the penalties if you facing a DUI charge.