There are obvious things that can cause you to have your driver license suspended — for instance, driving under the influence or driving recklessly. You can even lose your license for driving without car insurance. Your driver’s license may be suspended for a number of surprising reasons that have nothing to do with driving. To keep US roadways as safe as possible, the legislation is organized in such a way that unfit drivers are removed before they may do harm to others by irresponsible behavior.
A motorist may be deemed unsuitable for a variety of reasons. Occasionally, a person’s mental or physical health may deteriorate to the point where they are unable to properly operate their car. Rather frequently, a driver engages in risky and illegal behavior behind the wheel, and the courts determine whether or not their license should be suspended or revoked, and for how long.
Suspending your license means that you will be unable to drive for an extended length of time. Typically, in order to get your license renewed after a suspension term, you must take particular procedures. Certain states grant a restricted license suspension, which allows for some driving rights, such as driving to and from work or in an emergency medical scenario.
Reasons for suspension of driver license
Each state has its own set of regulations governing license suspensions and what constitutes a valid reason for one. Suspensions can be classified as driving-related or financial-related.
Suspension of driving privileges
License suspensions for driving violations occur when you violate a law while driving and the state law imposes a license suspension as a consequence. Several examples include the following:
- Driving without insurance: Almost all jurisdictions require drivers to have a minimum level of liability insurance (and in some situations, more) in order to drive legally. If you are caught driving without the bare minimum insurance needed by law, your license may be suspended.
- Driving under the influence occurs when a driver is under the influence of drugs or alcohol while driving or operating a vehicle (DUI). It is also known as driving while drunk (DWI) or operating a motor vehicle while impaired. Each state has its own terminology and criteria for this criminal activity. Anyone convicted of a DUI faces the possibility of having their license suspended.
- Reckless driving occurs when a driver shows a flagrant disregard for safety and consequences while operating a vehicle. This may not always imply an accident or property damage, but it does imply that the driving was deemed unsafe. Excessive speeding, racing another car and passing a vehicle in the path of oncoming traffic all constitute reckless driving.
Suspended licenses in the financial sector
License suspensions for driving may not come as a surprise, given the number of dangerous scenarios that can arise behind the wheel and need the suspension of driving rights. However, people may be startled to find that a license might be suspended for financial reasons.
- Missing child support payments: Some states will revoke your license if you fall behind on — or completely disregard — your child support payments.
- Failure to pay traffic tickets: If you are required to pay a ticket and do not pay the fine, you risk having your license suspended.
- Failure to fulfill financial requirements resulting from an accident: If you are found at fault in an accident and do not pay financial obligations for property damage or injuries, your license may be suspended.
You are the subject of civil litigation as a result of an accident: If you are found to be at fault in an accident and named as a defendant in a civil suit, several states will suspend your license.
Additional grounds for suspension of a license
Suspensions for driving or financial reasons are very basic, although this does not mean the list is exhaustive. There are various other circumstances under which you may risk a driver’s license suspension, including the following:
- Illegal use of a license: If you share your license with a buddy in order for them to purchase alcohol or attend a club while underage, your license may be suspended for illegal use.
- Excessive points on your license: In states and Washington, D.C. that use a point system for traffic infractions, amassing an excessive number of points on your driving record may result in your license being suspended.
- Attempting to evade or avoid a police officer; may constitute reckless driving in some states, but it may also result in an automatic license suspension in the absence of a reckless driving conviction.
- Failure to appear in court: In some places, if you are ordered to appear in court and fail to do so, your license may be suspended. This could be for any reason, including one unconnected to a driving incident.
What’s the impact of having a suspended license?
Obviously, you can’t drive with a suspended license. If you get caught driving with one, the state may impose a fine, extend the length of your license suspension or even send you to jail. And the penalties increase if you’re a repeat offender.
That said, in some cases, you might be eligible for a “hardship license” that allows you to drive in some cases. For example, you may be able to drive to work if you have no other way to get there. But there are limitations. You can’t take your vacation road trip using your hardship license, for example.
There’s also the matter of ID. Often — but not always — you must surrender your driver’s license, leaving you without photo identification unless you have a passport. You may be able to get an identification card from your municipality, and the court can instruct you on how and where to do that.
With a license suspension, you can work your way back into the good graces of the law by paying a reinstatement fee and fulfilling other terms outlined by the court or the department of motor vehicles.
And if your license is revoked, your driving privilege is permanently taken away and you can never legally drive in that state again.
How can I get my suspended license reinstated?
Restoring your license will generally require you to complete your suspension sentence, take a defensive driving course or other traffic class, and get an SR-22 from your insurance company. An SR-22 is a document that your insurance company files on your behalf; it confirms you’re carrying at least the minimum coverage.
You’ll also have to pay a reinstatement fee, which varies by state. In Connecticut, for instance, that fee is $175. In many states, the reinstatement fee depends on the reason for suspension. For example, it costs more money in Nevada to reinstate your license if you lost it for an alcohol- or drug-related offense.
Many of the logistics of driver’s license suspension are state-specific, but if you keep yourself on the right side of the law, chances are you won’t have to worry about a suspended license running you off the road.