What is a Suspended License?

If someone has a suspended license, his or her privilege to operate a motor vehicle has been temporarily taken away. Following suspension, the person may be ordered to pay a fine, spend time in jail, or both. Ordinarily, both a department of motor vehicles (DMV), or similar government agency, and a court are given legal authority to suspend a driver’s license. If someone is caught driving while his or her license is suspended, the length of suspension is usually extended.

A suspended license can result when a person is convicted of a number of different offenses. One such offense is driving while intoxicated (DWI) or driving under the influence (DUI) of drugs or alcohol. If someone is convicted of negligently or recklessly driving a motor vehicle, his or her license may also be taken away. Failing to pay child support for an extended period of time sometimes also results in a suspended license.

In some cases, someone’s license will be suspended if a court finds that he or she has a physical or mental condition which negatively impacts his or her ability to safely drive a car. Ordinarily, the person’s license will remain suspended until he or she can show that the condition is either gone or has improved enough to make driving safe. Someone’s license could also be suspended if he or she gets into a car accident and doesn’t have the appropriate insurance. If a person fails to pay a traffic ticket or doesn’t show up in traffic court when required, the court may also elect to suspend his or her license.

The length of time for being unable to drive varies, depending on the reason behind the suspended license. For example, someone with unpaid traffic tickets will likely have a shorter suspension period than someone who has a suspended license due to a more serious charge, such as multiple DUI convictions. Time periods for suspension are often set by statute, although a judge frequently has some discretion in making a final decision on suspension length.

Getting a license back usually requires a person to perform specific actions, such as paying a traffic fine, completing a mandatory suspension period, or serving time in jail. These requirements vary significantly, depending on the reason behind the suspension. Even after someone has completed the suspension period and any other requirements, he or she isn’t automatically entitled to drive a car again. Normally, the person must first adhere to any DMV reinstatement procedures, which may include physically re-applying for a new license at a DMV office.


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