Having a driver's license is a privilege, rather than a right, and a license can be suspended or revoked as a penalty for a DUI arrest, a DUI conviction, or a refusal to submit to blood alcohol testing.
Difference Between Suspension and Revocation
A driver's license suspension is usually less serious than a revocation. A driver's license suspension is a set term during which you do not have a license to drive, and you can be charged with an offense if you do drive during that period. In most instances, the kind of criminal or civil offenses that might trigger a license suspension are similar to those that result in revocation, even though they are less serious or less frequent. If your license is suspended, you may be able to apply for a hardship license so that you can get to your job, school, or rehab.
Grounds for License Revocation
Actions that can result in revocation tend to be serious in most states. For example, your driver's license can be revoked in virtually any state for having multiple DUIs, getting a certain number of points for offenses, or being convicted of the offense of driving on a suspended license. Circumstances that might give rise to a revocation after multiple offenses include racing, hit and run, and DUIs. You might have your driver's license revoked if you used altered license plates, were convicted of a drug crime, or failed to respond to a court summons. However, you can also have your driver's license revoked for failing to comply with a child support order in most states. Often, once a license is revoked, you will need to wait a set time period before putting in an application for another license and taking the requisite tests. Since having driver's license is a privilege, once your license is revoked, you may not be able to get it back.
Often, revocation is a discretionary matter. This means that a judge can determine whether or not your license should be revoked. It can be helpful to retain an attorney in any matter that could result in the revocation of your driver's license.
Grounds for License Suspension
There are also administrative license suspension laws that require automatic suspension of licenses in certain situations. Under implied consent laws, if you refuse to submit to a blood, breath, or urine test when there was a proper stop of your vehicle, the refusal triggers an automatic suspension. In these states, you are considered to have given implied consent to be tested for your blood alcohol content (BAC) when you obtained a driver’s license. Also, in most states, you can face an administrative license suspension if you are stopped legitimately, and the chemical testing shows that you have a BAC of at least .08%.
Appealing a Suspension
Each state has its own rules about how long an administrative license suspension will last and whether it can be appealed. Often, you will need to file an appeal within a few days of being arrested or having a citation issued against you. If you appeal an administrative license suspension, there will likely be a hearing to determine whether your driving privileges should be restored. However, if a prosecutor proceeds with DUI charges and you are convicted of a DUI, you will likely face a driver's license suspension again as part of your criminal sentence.