Driving on a Suspended or Revoked License

Driving on a Suspended/Revoked License

Although most of us consider driving to be a basic right of adulthood, the privilege of holding a driver’s license is reserved for those who demonstrate an understanding and respect for the rules of the road.  When drivers fail to abide by those rules or act in a manner that suggests a lack of consideration for the safety of others, the state is capable of suspending or revoking a driver’s license. While this may seem like a minor issue, driving after a license has been suspended or revoked can be a very serious traffic offense.

Reasons for Suspension or Revocation

A state may suspend or revoke a driver’s license for a variety of reasons, depending on the criminal laws of that state. Possible grounds for suspension include:

  • Driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs;
  • Failing to appear at a court proceeding for another traffic offense;
  • Failing to possess auto insurance for a vehicle;
  • Failing to pay traffic tickets or another traffic related fine; or
  • Engaging in reckless driving, such as grossly excessive speeding.

Suspension or revocation of a driver’s license may even be ordered as punishment for failing to keep up with court-ordered child support payments.

In certain circumstances, a driver may have his or her license revoked while retaining the option of using a restricted license. This allows a driver to use a vehicle only for specific purposes, such as driving back and forth to work or school. Restricted licenses may limit the time of day or how frequently the driver is permitted to use the vehicle, and they are typically very limited.

Punishments for Driving on a Suspended or Revoked License

Because of the necessary requirements of daily life, drivers who have had their licenses suspended will often be tempted to take their cars for quick trips to run errands, meet friends, or get to work more quickly. Although this may not seem like a big deal, it can result in very serious consequences. In some states, including California, getting caught driving on a suspended license can result in mandatory jail time of up to six months, as well as hefty fines. In other states, the penalties may be lighter at first but increase significantly for repeat offenses. For instance, in Kansas, a second offense of driving on a suspended license will result in at least one year of jail time.

Additionally, when a driver’s license has been suspended because of a DUI, many states impose harsher sentences on those who violate their suspensions.

Getting a License Reinstated

Although it is possible to have a license permanently revoked, in most circumstances a driver will be eligible to have his or her license suspension or revocation lifted after certain requirements are met. These requirements are often called “conditions for reinstatement.” They often vary depending on the reason that the license was initially revoked, and they may include paying outstanding fines or child support fees, attending and completing traffic school classes, providing proof of insurance, or attending drug or alcohol treatment.

Once these conditions are completed and any necessary period of time has passed, a driver with a suspended license may resume driving. Depending on the state, this may be an automatic reinstatement of driving privileges, or it may require a formal approval from the state or a court. If the driver’s license has been revoked, the driver will have to go through the process of applying for a new license.