Finding out during a traffic check that your driver's license is suspended could result in your arrest or substantial fines. In the United States, laws regarding driver's license suspension may vary from state to state. The means of finding out if your license is suspended will also vary. One of the best places to start in any state is the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) or the Department of Driver Services (DDS).
Part 1 of 3: Find out if the license is suspended
Step 1. Get a copy of your driving record
Staying informed about your driving record is important for many reasons. This will include your driving history and indicate if your license is suspended. It can also inform you if there are errors in the file that you must resolve (such as a traffic ticket that you have successfully opposed). Depending on the state, you can request your driving record online, by phone, by mail, or in person. Check with your local DMV office to find out how they offer access to your driving record.
- Some states allow you to request a copy of your driving record online. Most states charge a minimal fee to obtain a driving record (typically $ 5 to $ 15). Always visit the official site of your state's DMV or DDS. The official website of the US Government lists the official website of the DMV or DDS for each state here. Remember that almost all official government websites end in ".gov" in the United States; however some, such as the Department of Public Safety, end in ".us". Entering the official government portal will ensure that you enter the correct website.
- Never enter personal information on a website that says it will give you a free copy of the driving record. Nor do websites ask for “sign-up” fees. Generally, websites that offer “free” copies of your driving record or that request fees for “registration” or other “services” are scams designed to access your personal information.
- Some states require you to go in person to the DMV office to have a copy of the driving record. Bring a proper photo ID and fee (which will vary by state).
- Some states allow you to request a copy of your driving record by mail. Fill out a form (which you can get online or at a local DMV office) and include the fee and a photocopy of the driver's license.
Step 2. Contact your local DDS or DMV and ask about the status of your license
Generally, a DMV representative will be able to tell you if the license is current or suspended. This person can also tell you why the license has been suspended and what you need to do to reinstate it.
Sometimes you have to go to the DMV in person to get this information. However, many states have an online service that will tell you if the license is suspended. Check your state's DDS or DMV website for their regulations
Step 3. Find a copy of a suspension notice that has been mailed to you
In most states, suspension notices will be mailed to you. If your address is currently on file with the appropriate agency (such as the Department of Public Safety or the Department of Licensing), you should have received a letter with the details of the suspension.
In many cases, these letters will also include a hearing request form. You can return this form if you want to request a hearing to argue against the suspension
Step 4. Understand the reason for the suspensions
There are many reasons why your driver's license could be suspended. Common reasons include repeated violations (excessive speed, reckless driving, etc.), serious (such as driving or driving under the influence, or DUI or DWI), and unpaid fines. However, these are not the only reasons to suspend a license. Even if none of these reasons apply to you, you may need to do your research and make sure the license is suspended.
It is possible that errors in the driving record could cause a suspension that should not have happened. For example, if the record reflects fines that you have not had, your license could be suspended
Step 5. Keep track of your license points
Most states have a point system that assigns a certain number of points to each moving violation (traffic violations that occur while the vehicle is moving, such as running a light or speeding). If you reach a maximum number of points allowed, your license will be suspended for a specified period.
- Generally, the number of days your license is suspended is determined by the number of points on file. For example, in Alabama, from 12 to 14 points within a 2-year period results in a 60-day suspension, but from 24 points within a 2-year period results in a 365-day suspension.
- Generally, you will not be suspended for just a moving violation. However, if a driver commits a certain serious traffic violation, such as speeding 15 or more miles per hour over the posted limit or reckless driving, many times within a certain period, many states will suspend the driver's license. drive.
Step 6. Think about whether you have committed a serious traffic violation
In almost all states, some serious traffic offenses, such as driving under the influence, will immediately suspend your license. Other offenses that generally result in immediate suspension include the following:
- vehicular homicide
- crimes involving a motor vehicle
- leaving the scene of an accident
- police evasion
Step 7. Check your auto insurance
If you are ordered to stop or are involved in an accident, you will be asked to show proof of insurance. Not having a valid one can cause your license to be suspended. If you were ordered to stop or were in an accident and cannot show proof of insurance, your license may have been suspended.
If you've left proof of insurance at home, check with your DMV office to see if the state allows you to take it to DMV before your license is suspended
Part 2 of 3: Handling the suspension
Step 1. Understand the suspension rules in your state
When your license is suspended, you cannot legally drive during the suspension period. If you are caught driving with a suspended license, you can incur serious penalties. These could include additional suspension time, large fines, and even prison time. Check with your state DMV to learn the complete rules.
- Some states, like Florida, will ask you to surrender your driver's license to the DMV after a suspension. If the state asks you to surrender your license, the mandatory suspension period won't start until you do. In other words, if your license is suspended for 60 days but you don't surrender it for 30 days, the 60-day suspension period will not start until you surrender the license. However, the license would still be suspended for the 30 days prior to its delivery. Having a license does not mean that you can legally drive.
- Failure to surrender the license when requested to do so generally results in an extended period of suspension.
Step 2. Ask for an audience
In many cases, you have the right to a hearing where you can appeal your license suspension. For example, they will send you a hearing request form along with the Washington suspension notification letter. You can fill it out and mail it in to request a hearing. In other cases, there may be special procedures or forms that you need to address to request a hearing. There are many reasons why you might request a hearing.
- For example, if you believe that the violations in your driving record should not have been issued, you should use the hearing to explain why.
- You could argue financial hardship by showing that if you can't drive to work, you could lose it.
- You can also discuss the facts of any traffic accident. For example, some states will assign points to your license for any traffic accident, regardless of liability. Giving details, such as from your auto insurance company or the accident report, that show that the accident was not your fault can persuade the hearing officer not to suspend your license.
Step 3. File an appeal
If your license was suspended for an alcohol-related offense, you can generally appeal the suspension. For the details and details about the appeal, visit or call your state DMV office.
- Note that appealing the DMV's decision to suspend the license does not affect any civil or criminal case against you arising from the incident.
- In many cases, these appeals are expensive (for example, appealing a suspension for driving under the influence costs $ 150 in Georgia).
- Generally, these appeals must be made within a specified time after the suspension. Check with your local DMV office for your state regulations.
Step 4. Ask about a traffic school
In some states, your license may be reinstated if you complete a state-approved traffic school or defensive driving course. Check with the DMV or a similar department in your state for their policy.
If your license was suspended due to a points violation, your license can usually be reinstated by completing traffic school or a defensive driving course
Step 5. Investigate the “hardship license” option
In some states, you may be eligible to apply for a “hardship license” even if your driver's license has been suspended. These licenses are temporary, as they are designed so that you can drive what is necessary, such as to and from work or to go grocery shopping.
In some states, an "engine ignition interlock device" can be installed in your car if you obtain a hardship license. These are typically used for alcohol-related suspensions and will not allow you to start the car if you are drunk
Part 3 of 3: Rehabilitate the license
Step 1. Wait the required time
If your license was suspended for a specific time, such as 60 days, you must wait until the period of suspension ends before you can apply for license reinstatement.
Remember that if you must surrender your license, the official suspension period will not start until you fulfill it
Step 2. Apply for license reinstatement
You can't just start driving again after the suspension period ends. You must meet certain requirements to officially reinstate your license before you can legally drive. These requirements will differ by state, so check with your state's DMV to learn what you need to do to reinstate your license.
Step 3. Pay a fee
In most states, you will have to pay a fee to have the license enabled. The amount of this fee varies considerably. If you live in a state that requires you to surrender the license; generally, you also have to pay a fee to obtain a new license.
- For example, the fee for rehab is $ 100 in Massachusetts. In Minnesota, this is only $ 20.
- The fee can also vary depending on the reason your license was suspended. If you were suspended for driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or for criminal activity involving a vehicle, the fee is likely to be much higher than for other suspensions.
Step 4. Provide the appropriate documentation
Almost all states require you to do things like finish traffic school or participate in a substance abuse education program as part of your suspension. If you were required to do something like that, you will need to provide documentation that you met the requirements.
Make a copy of the documentation for your records. Sometimes records can be lost; therefore, you will need to make sure that you can prove that you met all the requirements
Step 5. Provide an insurance form
Almost all states require you to complete and submit an “SR-22” form to reinstate your license. The SR-22 form certifies that you carry at least the minimum auto insurance that your state requires. In most states, you will have to have your insurance provider submit this form directly to DMV or another agency.
Almost all states require these forms to be submitted for 3 years. If you do not have any accidents during that period, you will not have to continue filing the SR-22
Step 6. Meet any other requirements
Depending on the terms of your suspension, you may need to meet other requirements to reinstate the license. Make sure to complete all certifications, education programs, among others, before requesting license rehabilitation.
For example, if the suspension was the result of driving under the influence, you may pay all fines and court costs before your license is reinstated
- Even if you think there is no reason why your license should be suspended, if you've had multiple moving violations, owe child support or back taxes, allowed auto insurance to lapse, or failed to pay a driving-related fine, including one for parking lot, some states will suspend your license for these reasons.
- Some states, like Florida, will suspend licenses for drivers under the age of 18 if they miss school frequently.
- When you check the status of your driver's license, be sure to find out if it has been suspended or revoked. A revoked license can be permanent. If you can rehabilitate a revoked license, it will generally have more requirements for rehabilitation, including retaking the written or driving test.
- Make sure you meet all state requirements related to license suspension and rehabilitation. Failure to do so could result in you facing penalties such as fines or a longer suspension.
- Don't try to get a driver's license in a different state if your license has been suspended. Almost all states share license information and know when it has been suspended. Generally, it is illegal to have more than one driver's license.
- Never drive with a suspended license. If you drive without a valid license, you could be subject to fines and even jail time. You could even have your license permanently revoked.