Lifetime Suspension of Driver’s License

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 What is a “Lifetime Suspension of Driver’s License”?

There is a reason that people living in the United States must pass a driving test in order to obtain a driver’s license. This is primarily due to the fact that U.S. laws view driving as a privilege and not as an actual right (e.g., like freedom of speech).

That privilege or “right” is contained in the legal document you receive once you pass your driving test, namely, your driver’s license. A driver’s license is a valid form of legal proof that tells others that you are lawfully permitted to drive.

As is the case with other types of privileges, a person can have their right to drive taken away in certain situations. For instance, this can happen when a person behaves recklessly or injures another while driving a motor vehicle. A court will issue an order that requires their license to be either temporarily suspended for a specified period of time or permanently revoked for the rest of their life.

If you are facing charges where you may possibly receive a lifetime suspension of your driver’s license, you should speak to a local DUI lawyer immediately for further assistance with your case.

How can My Driver’s License be Suspended?

When a person’s driver’s license is suspended or revoked, it means that their driving privileges and their right to drive have been either temporarily or permanently rescinded. Although the exact definition varies by state, the primary difference between a license being suspended versus a license being revoked is that when a license is revoked, it means that a person’s driving privileges have been permanently terminated.

Despite the phrasing, however, if a court determines that a person’s driver’s license is suspended for life, this is the equivalent of saying that their license has been revoked. The reason for this is because these terms are sometimes used interchangeably depending on the jurisdiction.

Driving laws and requirements may also differ by state. In general, some reasons that will likely cause someone to have their license temporarily suspended or revoked indefinitely in most states include:

  • Lack of auto insurance: Many states often require some minimum amount of auto or car insurance, which can provide coverage for damages sustained after a motor vehicle collision. Thus, not having auto insurance or having auto insurance that is expired can lead to a temporary or lifetime suspension of one’s driver license depending on the state.
  • Failure to pay child support: A handful of states will suspend a non-custodial parent’s driver’s license if they owe or continue to refuse to pay for court-ordered child support.
  • Multiple traffic violations: Some traffic violations may increase a person’s chances of having their driver’s license suspended for their lifetime. This usually applies when a person is a repeat offender (meaning they receive multiple traffic violations) or engage in the sort of driving behavior that leads to points on their license (e.g., habitual speeding violations, ignoring stop signs, etc.).
  • Driving under the influence or while intoxicated (DUIs/DWIs): Driving under the influence or while intoxicated is generally considered a serious traffic violation. This is especially true in cases where a person has received multiple DUI or DWI violations.

When can a Driver’s License be Suspended for Life?

It is unlikely that an individual will lose their driver’s license for a lifetime over a parking ticket. However, many states have passed laws that require a driver’s license to be suspended or revoked for life if a person behaves recklessly or in an irresponsible manner. In general, such conduct must rise to a certain level of recklessness where it puts another person or driver at risk of being injured and/or possibly killed in an accident.

An example of the kind of behavior that would likely lead to a lifetime suspension of a driver’s license would include crimes like vehicular homicide and/or repeat drunk driving violations. Some more concrete examples of scenarios in which a court may issue an order to suspend a person’s driver’s license for life include:

  • For dangerous or reckless driving: Dangerous and/or reckless driving is the fastest way for one to obtain a lifetime suspension of their driver’s license. In addition to violations that involve charges of DUIs and/or DWIs, some other offenses that will lead to a lifetime suspension of one’s driver’s license if convicted include:
    • Vehicular assault;
    • Reckless driving;
    • Involuntary manslaughter;
    • Vehicular manslaughter; and/or
    • Aggravated vehicular homicide.
  • For driving crimes with aggravating factors: If a person is convicted of any of the above driving crimes while certain aggravating factors are present, then it will probably lead to a permanent suspension of their driver’s license. An aggravating factor is a condition that elevates the degree of a particular crime. Thus, the more serious that a driving incident is, the higher the chances are that one will receive a lifetime suspension of their driver’s license as punishment.
    • Some criminal offenses that could potentially result in a lifetime suspension of one’s driving privileges include when any the following factors are combined with the above crimes:
      • Driving while using a weapon or discharging a firearm;
      • Driving while under the influence of illegal drugs, controlled substances, and/or alcohol;
      • Driving with an invalid license (e.g., if a person’s license is suspended, revoked, or forged);
      • Driving in a reckless manner with a criminal record that contains the same or similar driving crimes; and
      • Driving or speeding in order to evade the police or other law enforcement officials.
  • For habitual DUIs and/or DWIs offenses: Although one DUI and/or DWI may not lead to a permanent suspension of one’s driver’s license, someone who is a repeat offender and receives multiple convictions for these types of offenses will increase their odds of losing their driving privileges for the rest of their lives.
    • For example, a person who is convicted of a DUI three or four times, will most likely be issued a punishment by a court that involves a lifetime suspension of their driver’s license.

What are some other Considerations Regarding Driver’s License Rights?

With the exceptions of persons living in walkable cities, such as New York or the District of Columbia, driving has become a necessary part of the economy as well as individuals’ social lives. For instance, most people have to drive in order to go to work, to run errands, to drop their kids off at school, and/or to visit family and friends. Having a driver’s license is basically essential to being able to participate in society and daily life activities.

In other words, driving rights are an incredibly important privilege to have to live and work in the United States. Thus, in many cases, a driver’s license will not be suspended indefinitely if the punishment can be avoided. Instead, a driver’s license will more likely be suspended for extended periods of time (e.g., five years, ten years, etc.), not for life. However, the final recommendation regarding license suspension will be for a court to decide.

For example, every state has laws that prescribe specific sentencing guidelines that the courts must adhere to in a criminal case. While some state sentencing guidelines may allow judges a bit of room for discretion or to factor in the circumstances surrounding a particular matter, this will not always be the case in every situation or under the laws of a certain state.

Fortunately, when it comes to determining whether an individual’s driver’s license should be suspended for life or not, a court will typically be permitted to consider the best course of action based on the facts of each individual case.

In addition, drivers whose licenses have already been temporarily suspended or permanently revoked can cause their situation to worsen if they continue to ignore a court’s order and drive without a valid license. Drivers who engage in this type of conduct can be ordered to pay heavy fines and/or to serve jail time if they are pulled over by law enforcement and lack a bona fide license and thus the right to legally drive.

Do I Need a Lawyer for Help with a Lifetime Driver’s License Suspension?

If you are experiencing legal problems that may lead to a suspension of your driver’s license for the remainder of your lifetime and/or are already facing charges that could result in a second DUI conviction, then it is strongly encouraged that you consult with a local DUI lawyer immediately for further legal advice on the matter.

Cases involving DUI charges can have serious consequences that not only affect your ability to drive a motor vehicle, but could potentially give rise to harsh penalties, such as having to pay a large fine or serving some amount of time in a county jail or state prison facility. In such a scenario, having a qualified and knowledgeable DUI lawyer to assist you with navigating the legal system can help relieve some of the pressure and make better informed decisions.

Your lawyer can review the facts of your case and can recommend some options based on those facts regarding how you should proceed. Your lawyer will also be familiar with the laws in your area and can advise you of your rights and privileges as a driver in your state. Additionally, if you need someone to defend you in court, your lawyer can provide legal representation as well.

Finally, if you are required to produce certain legal documents or need someone to explain the situation to your auto insurance company, your lawyer will also be able to provide these types of services, which can go a long way in helping you attain the best possible outcome for your case.

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