Misdemeanor Traffic Offenses in Washington, D.C.

Operating After Suspension (OAS) and Operating After Revocation (OAR)

Operating After Suspension (OAS) and Operating After Revocation (OAR) are misdemeanor traffic offenses under the D.C. Code, similar to what is often called “driving on suspended” or “driving after revocation” in other jurisdictions.  They are prosecuted by the DC Attorney General’s Office and carries up to on year in jail and/or a $2,500 fine.

In order to convict a defendant of OAS/OAR, the government must prove that 1) the defendant operated a motor vehicle in the District of Columbia and 2) at the time the defendant operated the vehicle, his or her privilege to operate a vehicle in the District of Columbia had been revoked or suspended or that the person’s out of state license had been suspended by the issuing state.

“Operating” is construed broadly and can include not only driving but pushing or parking a vehicle.

Importantly, the Court of Appeals has made clear that the government does not have to prove the defendant was aware that his or her license was suspended.  For this reason, OAS/OAR are often referred to as a “strict liability” offenses.

If you believe your DC drivers’ license maybe be suspended or revoked, check with the Department of Motor Vehicles immediately to find out for sure.  If a suspension or revocation is in place, you should apply for restoration of your driving privileges.  Some common reasons for suspension include criminal convictions, unpaid tickets and fines, or lack of insurance.

If you are stopped for OAS/OAR, the police officer will probably issue you a citation to appear in court.  Make careful note of the date and time to appear and, if possible, consult with counsel prior to your first appearance.

No Permit

A similar but distinct charge to OAS/OAR is No Permit under DC Code 50-1401(d).  That code section makes it a misdemeanor to operate a motor vehicle in the district without first having obtained “an operator’s permit, learner’s permit, provisional permit, or a motorcycle endorsement if operating a motorcycle.”

The offense carries up to 90 days jail and/or a fine of up to $500.

Traffic Court Diversion

Whether your charge is OAS, OAR or No Permit, an important question to ask in any DC traffic case is are you eligible for diversion?  If you are deemed to be eligible for diversion the government will agree to dismiss the charge against you if presented with proof that you got a license (if your charge is No Permit) or removed your suspension/revocation (if your charge is OAS or OAR.)  If you need some time to accomplish this (e.g. save money to pay traffic tickets) the Court will continue your case for a reasonable period.  Unlike other diversion programs in Superior Court, traffic court diversion does not require you to perform community service or jump through any other hoops in order to get your case dismissed.  All you have to do is remedy the problem with your privilege to drive and your case will be dismissed.

Whether you are eligible for diversion depends upon your criminal and driving record and the circumstances of your case.  The government has complete discretion when it comes to diversion, and the judge cannot force the prosecutor to agree to it, even if the judge feels strongly that it is appropriate.  In some cases, the government may announce you are eligible for diversion at your very first court appearance.  In closer cases, the assigned prosecutor may require some convincing to agree to diversion.

We have a strong record of getting clients into diversion in traffic and other cases, including where the prosecutor is initially resistant to the idea.  If you have been charged with an OAS/OAR, or for No Permit, please don’t hesitate to contact us for a free phone consultation regarding your case.