Driver's License Suspensions Based on Traffic Tickets
If you accumulate several moving violations on your driving record, you may be at risk of a driver’s license suspension. This means that you cannot drive for a certain period of months or years, unless you obtain a restricted or hardship license for limited use.
A single violation will not lead to a license suspension by itself in most cases. If you are under the age of 18, however, you may face a license suspension based on a single violation. For adult drivers, a license suspension comes only after multiple moving violations within a certain lookback period. The applicable time period depends on the state. Parking tickets cannot be counted toward a license suspension.
Each state has its own set of traffic regulations, in which each moving violation leads to a certain number of points being added to a driver’s license. If the number of points rises above the threshold provided by state law, their license may be suspended. A driver who was involved in a car accident sometimes will have points added to their license even if they were not actually found to have been responsible for the crash.
In some states, a moving violation generally counts as one point unless it involved excessive speed, in which case it counts as two points. A license suspension can result if a driver receives four points in one year, six points in two years, or eight points in three years. Under a different system that is used in other states, a driver’s license can be suspended if they receive 12 points in three years. Violations in these states usually count as two points unless they are significant, in which case they can range from three to five points. Some examples of violations that can lead to extra points include excessive speeding or running a red light.
Strategies to Prevent a Suspension
You can try to avoid the prospect of losing your license by contesting any tickets that you believe were wrongly issued, getting points off your record by going to traffic school, and generally monitoring your driving record. In many states, you can use traffic school once per year to keep a violation off your record. Other states restrict the use of this alternative to once per 18 months or once per two years. Traffic school may not be available to wipe out a violation related to excessive speeding.
Strategies to Defend Against a Suspension
A particular hardship, such as the need to drive to work or school, may be a successful strategy to defend against a suspension.
You have a right to a hearing at the Department of Motor Vehicles or the equivalent state agency before your license is suspended. You can retain an attorney to represent you at this hearing. If the loss of your license would cause you to lose your job because you need to drive to work or as part of your work, you can bring this hardship to the hearing officer’s attention. If you drive many miles each year, you can mention this point because it may mean that you are more likely to get into an accident or get a traffic violation than an ordinary person, just based on the rules of probability.
A driver also can challenge the basis for a ticket that resulted in some of the points at issue. They would need to explain not only why they should not have received the ticket but also why they did not fight the ticket at the time. Similarly, a driver can argue that a car accident that resulted in points was not actually their fault. If they have changed their driving habits to take more precautions since receiving a ticket, they can raise this point as well.