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What does it mean to have a sentence stayed in a driving conviction

San Pedro, CA |

In 2009 I plead guilty to driving on a suspended license and my sentence on the count record says "Sentenced stayed". The original suspension was in 2004 for 3 years. DMV says my license is revoked until 2013. I don't understand the discrepency

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Attorney answers 4


The DMV and the court system are 100% separate. The DMV not the court controls what happens to your license. Sentence stayed means that if there was jail time you will not have to serve it if you comply with all the terms of the probation. It is unusual for a single 14601.1 to cause a 3 year license revocation. I am assuming you had several 14601.1 convictions or points on your license. You can call the DMV’s mandatory action unit in Sacramento to find out why you are not eligible for a license until 2013.
Robert Driessen


I suspect that there IS some confusion. But here goes. The first thing is that there is a difference in the sentence imposed by the court, and the actions take by DMV. When a sentence in court is "stayed," technically that means that the court gave you a punishment - say 6 months in jail - but the imposition of that sentence will not take place if you satisfactorily perform certain conditions for the period of the stay. If you violate those conditions, the court "lifts" the stay and imposes that sentence. If the imposition of sentence is suspended, you are not technically sentenced unless you violate those conditions; if you do, the court may place you back on probation, or impose whatever sentence it feels is appropriate at that time.

The court's order and the DMV may be, and probably are, completely separate actions. It is hard from this brief summary to know exactly what is going on with DMV and your license. It might be something as simple as not having paid all your fines, having a warrant outstanding, not having paid child support, not having valid insurance, or a host of other issues. It coud have something to do with a conviction (or 2) for a DUI related offense in your past - as in, why was your license suspended in the frist place?

You need to consult with a qualified criminal defense attorney. He or she should be able to figure it out for you.


The fact that your sentence was stayed with the court will have no effect to what happens with your license. You need to find out from DMV if there's anything you can do to get your license back sooner (like an ignition interlock device, etc.)


Your first call should be to the Mandatory Actions Unit in Sacramento at (916) 657-6525. I was just in the Yolo County Courthouse a week ago and they were talking about a Diversion Program for Suspended License charges. It proposed to avoid the points with DMV and the conviction.

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