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Carew v. Commonwealth

Court of Appeals of Virginia, Alexandria

November 26, 2013

Aminata CAREW
v.
COMMONWEALTH of Virginia.

Kimberly C. Stover, Assistant Public Defender, for appellant.

Rosemary V. Bourne, Senior Assistant Attorney General (Kenneth T. Cuccinelli, II, Attorney General, on brief), for appellee.

Present: FRANK and PETTY JJ., and HALEY, S.J.

Page 227

HALEY, Judge.

[62 Va.App. 575] I.

The trial court convicted Aminata Carew (appellant) of driving a motor vehicle without a valid driver's license in violation of Code § 46.2-300. Appellant essentially contends the evidence was insufficient for conviction, because that evidence did not show she had been notified that her license was suspended and thus invalid. We agree and reverse the conviction.

II.

On the night of July 22, 2012, Officer Marcelo Carvajal stopped the vehicle appellant was driving because her headlights were not illuminated. When the officer asked appellant for her driver's license, she said she had left it at home. At the scene, when Carvajal " ran" appellant's driving record, he learned that her license had been suspended. She was given a summons alleging a violation of Code § 46.2-301, driving on a suspended license, which is penalized as a Class 1 misdemeanor. The Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) record, which the Commonwealth admitted at trial, showed that appellant had been issued a driver's license on September 9, 2011 with an expiration date of September 10, 2013 and that her license was administratively suspended on July 15, 2012 for not completing a " clinic interview." A copy of the order requiring [62 Va.App. 576] appellant to attend the clinic interview was sent to appellant by the DMV by certified mail, but the letter was returned " unclaimed" on May 10, 2012. With regard to the license suspension, appellant's driving record also indicated as follows:

SUSPENSION ISSUED: 04/16/2012 DI CLINIC REQUIREMENT

EFFECTIVE: 07/15/2012

ACTION: CLINIC INTERVIEW

NOTIFIED: 06/15/2012 BY DI REMINDER LTR

ORDER DELIVERY DATE: 05/10/2012

ORDER RTRN-UNCLAIMED

The Commonwealth did not present any additional evidence to establish that appellant was aware that the DMV had suspended her driver's license.[1] At trial, without objection, the Commonwealth amended the summons to charge a violation of Code § 46.2-300.

III.

Code § 46.2-300 provides:

No person, except those expressly exempted in §§ 46.2-303 through 46.2-308, shall drive any motor vehicle on any highway in the Commonwealth until such person has applied for a driver's license, as provided in this article, satisfactorily passed the examination required by § ...

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