In a recent opinion published by Division One of the Arizona Court of Appeals, the court ruled that the prosecution must prove that a driver either knew or should have known that his license was suspended at the time of driving before he or she can be convicted. Arizona revised statue 28–3473 makes it a class one misdemeanor to drive a motor vehicle while ones license is suspended revoked or canceled. Although the statute does not specifically require evidence pertaining to the actual knowledge of the status of the drivers license by the driver, the Court of Appeals has ruled that the offense requires proof that the motorist knew or should have known about the suspension.
In Arizona, prosecutions for driving on a suspended license are typically conducted with records from the Arizona Motor Vehicle Department ("MVD"). Under the law, there is a presumption that a person received notice from MVD if it was mailed to the address last left on file with them by the motorist. Because Arizona law requires that a person notify MVD within 10 days after changing their address, the court may assume that your address on file is current and charge you with the knowledge of what ever notices were sent by MVD to that address; even if you are no longer living there. This issue can be particularly troublesome when a person is charged with DUI.
Under Arizona revised statue 28–1383, it is a class four felony to commit a DUI while one's drivers license is suspended, revoked or canceled. Here again, the prosecution does not need to prove that the defendant actually knew his license was suspended, only that he should have known. Although the penalties for misdemeanor DUI are stiff, the consequences of a felony DUI conviction are far greater. A conviction for aggravated DUI carries a minimum prison term of four months in the Arizona department of corrections. It is therefore of critical importance that motorists in Arizona are vigilant in determining the status of their drivers license at all times.