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 When Can My Driver's License Be Suspended or Revoked, and What are the Differences Between the Two?

Maintaining your driver’s license is a big responsibility. Driving is not necessarily a right, rather it is a privilege granted to you by the state in which you live. When your driver’s license is suspended, this privilege is being withheld from you temporarily. When your driver’s license has been revoked, then the license suspension is permanent, as in, your driver’s license has been taken away entirely.

Essentially, a suspended license is temporary, and may only be reinstated after a specific time, or by taking the necessary steps to unsuspend the license. License suspensions last for either 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 is invalid forever. It is sometimes possible for someone to earn a new license after theirs has been revoked, but not always.

There are several reasons why a person may have their driver’s license suspended or revoked. Some examples include:

    • Unpaid traffic tickets;
    • Fleeing from the scene after being involved in an accident;
    • Presenting fake license plates;
    • Not responding to court summons;
    • Making false statements or presenting false information on DMV applications and forms;
    • Multiple traffic violations;
  • Lack of auto insurance.

It is important to check with your state’s DMV to determine what specific violations may lead to license suspension or revocation. They will also be able to provide information regarding what actions, if any, your state allows for resolving the suspension or revocation. Driving laws vary from state to state, and the aforementioned examples are general examples.

Can I Get in Trouble for Driving With a Suspended or Revoked License, and What are the Penalties?

Each state has their own, varying driving laws. Further, the penalties for driving with a suspended or revoked driver’s license will vary from state to state as well. The penalties vary widely, but since driving without a driver’s license is a serious offense, penalties generally consist of fines, jail time, or both. Additionally, most states have a penalty system that is based on whether the offense is isolated or repeated. 

For example, driving with a suspended or revoked license in the state of Arizona will likely result in a Class One Misdemeanor, meaning imprisonment for up to six months, and the possibility that your vehicle will be impounded. In Indiana, it is considered a Class Six Felony which consists of imprisonment between six months and two years, six months and a fine of no more than $10,000.

If your driver’s license has already been suspended or revoked, continuing to drive without your license will only further exacerbate the situation. If you are driving with a suspended license, this action could result in your license being revoked. Thus, if you are pulled over while driving with a suspended or revoked license, you may be ordered to pay significant fines and serve additional jail time.

What Can I Do to Prevent My License from Being Suspended or Revoked?

The number one answer is to, obviously, not break the law. This includes paying any traffic fines and penalties, but also avoiding providing false information to the DMV when filling out forms, ensuring you make your child support payments on time, etc. 

Should you break the law and find yourself facing license suspension or revocation, you could consult with an attorney to help you remedy the violation. Another option is to show up and contest the penalty for any tickets that you have been issued. 

For example, you may be able to reduce the points being charged against your license, therefore reducing the type of penalty applied to your case. You would do this by successfully arguing that your actions were necessary, such as avoiding an accident or injury to a pedestrian.

Another line of defense may be providing physical evidence, such as traffic camera footage or surveillance camera photos, that correct the accusing officer’s observations. A specific example is providing evidence that you ran a stop sign because you could not see the stop sign due to an obstructed view.

Completing all required driver’s education programs, or satisfying any deficiencies such as nonpayment of child support, may influence the court’s decision whether to confirm the license suspension or revocation.

Can a Revoked Driver’s License Be Reinstated?

As previously mentioned, each state has unique traffic laws, so you should check with your local DMV in order to find out what the procedures are for having your driver’s license reinstated, or if you are eligible for reinstatement at all. 

Generally, once you have received a notice of suspension or revocation, you have the right to appeal. It is best to begin the process by first addressing the suspension issue, before it progresses and becomes an issue of revocation.

Typically, in order to have your license reinstated, you must first understand what caused your license to be revoked, and if you are eligible to satisfy the requirements for reinstatement. For example, having your license revoked for a DUI charge, as opposed to a child support nonpayment charge, will likely have different requirements that you must satisfy in order to have your license reinstated. 

The DUI charge may require the driver to undergo addiction treatment and pay all fines, while the child support nonpayment issue may require that the delinquent parent pay all current and back child support.

How Long is Revocation Period for a Driver’s License?

Each state has their own timeline for driver’s license revocation, and it can also depend on the reason behind the revocation. In general, you will need to request approval from your state’s DMV, pay any driver civil penalties you have remaining, and go through your state’s licensing process. Should you satisfy all of your state’s requirements, you will be given a new driver’s license, as the old one will not be reinstated. 

Should I Consult with an Attorney If I Have a Suspended or Revoked License?

As you can see, what happens after your license has been suspended or revoked varies greatly based on what state you live in. If you are facing suspension or revocation, you will want to consult with a skilled and knowledgeable traffic violation attorney. The attorney can help you understand the laws as well as your rights, and determine if you are eligible for reinstatement. Additionally, they will be able to represent you in court as necessary.

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