Reinstatement of Suspended or Revoked Driver's License

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What are the General Procedures for Reinstating a Suspended or Revoked License?

State law usually outlines the normal procedures for getting a suspended or revoked license reinstated.  In most cases, a period of time must expire before one can apply to their state automotive agency to get their license reinstated.  During the reapplication process, state automotive agencies have the power to review your case, and have discretion in determining reinstatement.  The criteria for allowing reinstatement vary from state to state.

What Limitations Exist on a State Automotive Agency's Discretion over License Reinstatement?

A state automotive agency's discretion over license reinstatement should not be seen as a "blank check."  Most agencies must provide some legitimate grounds or reasoning when choosing to deny reinstatement.  Also, decisions made by licensing agencies are usually subject to judicial review, meaning that a person can bring their denial to court.  Note however that courts are reluctant to take such cases unless the agency's reasoning is extremely arbitrary or capricious.

Does a Ruling on Criminal Charges Relating to a Suspension/Revocation of a Driver's License have Bearing on Reinstatement?

No, since a state automotive agency's discretion is usually not under the control of state courts.  As long as a denial of a license reinstatement is based on legitimate grounds, an state automotive agency does not need to take into account criminal case rulings premised on the same set of facts. 

For example, suppose B's California driver's license is revoked due to their arrest for driving while under the influence.  Even if B is found innocent of the D.U.I. charge in criminal court, the CA Department of Motor Vehicles still has the power to revoke B's license.  However, B may be able to appeal the decision in court if they feel a legit reason for license revocation no longer exists.

How Can a Lawyer Help Me?

Because automotive laws vary from state to state, it is best to consult an attorney prior to applying for reinstatement of a revoked or suspended driver's license.  A lawyer can not only explain what a particular state's procedures for license reinstatement are, but can also determine the likelihood of reinstatement in a particular case.

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Last Modified: 05-23-2014 07:52 AM PDT

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