Obtaining and maintaining a driver’s license is a privilege granted to you by the state in which you live. When your driver’s license is suspended, the privilege to drive is temporarily taken away from you. 

This is different from when your driver’s license is revoked, in which case the suspension becomes permanent, and your driver’s license is taken away completely. In other words, a revoked license is cancelled, whereas a suspended license is only temporarily out of service. 

License suspension lasts for a definite period of time, or for an open ended period of time in which specific requirements must be met in order to reobtain the license. A revoked license is permanent, and although it is sometimes possible to earn a new license after revocation, it is not the norm.

Each state has its own traffic laws, so it is important to check with your local DMV in order to find out what the process is for license reinstatement, or if you qualify for reinstatement at all. The revocation period for a driver’s license also varies from state to state. 

What Might Cause My Driver’s License to Be Revoked?

Non-driving offenses can absolutely result in the revocation of your driver’s license. Some of these “unrelated crimes” are listed below. As noted above, each state has their own laws regarding what behaviors might warrant license revocation. 

In general, these offenses are similar to those that would lead to a license suspension, but more serious and often repeated after an initial suspension. There are several reasons why someone might have their driver’s license suspended or even revoked. These reasons include but are not limited to:

  • Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol or Other Intoxicants: For example the use of illicit or illegal contraband drugs, prescription medications such as muscle relaxers, and over the counter medications such as antihistamines.

    • This includes marijuana. It is illegal to drive while high/under the influence of marijuana and you can lose your license because of it. 
  • Reckless Driving: The driving of a vehicle at a speed or in a manner that shows an utter disregard for the safety of persons or property;
  • Leaving the scene of an accident that resulted in injury;
  • Unpaid traffic tickets;
  • Presenting fake license plates;
  • Making false statements or presenting false information on DMV applications and forms;
  • Failure to answer a traffic summons;
  • Drag racing and other speed contests; 
  • Failure to make court ordered child support payments; or
  • Failure to obtain and maintain auto insurance.

Once again, it is important to check with your own state’s DMV to determine what specific violations may lead to license suspension or revocation. The DMV will also be able to provide information regarding what actions your state may allow for resolving the suspension or revocation. 

What Else Should I Know About Driver’s License Revocation?

It is not necessarily a violation of due process to revoke a driver’s license. In most states, laws that revoke or suspend driver’s licenses because of unrelated criminal convictions are allowed as long as those laws serve a legitimate government purposes. 

In some states, the term “legitimate” is limited to automobile usage and public driving, while in others, the word is interpreted in a much more broad sense. An example of this would be Florida allowing the revocation of a license due to cocaine possession, which is meant primarily to deter illegal drug use and is not directly related to driving.

In general, license revocation laws that target minors do receive some special treatment. Most courts consider restricting the illegal activity of minors a legitimate interest. Thus, many license revocation laws that may otherwise be considered unconstitutional for adults may be considered valid if applied to minors. 

An example of this would be possessing alcohol. A law that calls for the revocation of a driver’s license if the driver is in possession of alcohol doesn’t make much sense when applied to adults, unless it is an open container. However, such action is possible for minors who are below drinking age.

Under certain circumstances, you may be able to get a new license once your driver’s license has been revoked. It also depends on your specific state’s laws regarding restoring your license vs. obtaining a new one entirely. Some states, like New York, allow for restoration. 

However your state determines their own laws, you will generally need to first request and receive approval from your state’s DMV to get a license again after yours has been revoked. 

Once you have approval, you pay driver civil penalties and go through your state’s licensing process. This may require a written test as well as a driving test. A new license is issued once the driver’s test has been passed.

Should I Hire an Attorney If My License Has Been Revoked?

If your driver’s license has been revoked due to a criminal charge unrelated to auto usage, you should consult with a skilled and knowledgeable criminal defense attorney

An experienced criminal defense attorney will help you understand your state’s specific laws, as well as file necessary paperwork on your behalf and represent you in court. Additionally, the attorney may be able to help you understand your chances of having your license restored, or your eligibility for replacement.