So your driver’s license was suspended. It’s not always easy to get back on the road after a suspension. For most motorists, driving is not just a convenience but also a necessity for everyday life. Here’s some must-know information to be aware of in order to regain your driving privileges.

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Suspended vs. Revoked License

What’s the difference? Revoked or suspended licenses both indicate that you can no longer operate a vehicle. A suspended license can be reinstated after the suspension time period has passed, as long as all requirements have been met.

A revoked license is a more serious offense, as it signifies that your driver’s license has been completely terminated. All of your driving privileges have been cancelled and cannot be reinstated. If your license is revoked, a person can no longer legally drive in that state. The only way to reinstate a revoked license is to speak with a judge or go through the  driver's license process over again—with a written test and road test. Some conditions may result in a permanent license revocation such as multiple serious offenses or medical conditions.

If your license is suspended or revoked, you will receive notification in the mail and be contacted by your DMV with information regarding the suspension period and reinstatement requirements. In certain cases, you may be asked to appear in court. If you’re unsure about the state of your driver’s license, you can always contact the DMV to receive a copy of your driving record.

Why Might a License Be Suspended?

A driver’s license can be suspended for several possible reasons.

  • If a driver is caught operating a vehicle without auto insurance, then there’s a possibility his or her license will be suspended. In some states, a first offense may only result in a fine, while a second offense will result in a suspension.
  • DUI/DWI – driving under the influence will result in a suspended or revoked license
  • Accumulation of “points” such as unpaid fines or tickets
  • Refusal of a BAC test or breathalyzer
  • Leaving the scene of an accidentambulance car accident
  • Reckless driving or excessive speeding
  • Failure to respond to a traffic court summons

Laws in each state may vary slightly in details, but in general, these are the standard offenses that result in suspended licenses. Check your state’s laws to find out more information pertinent to your situation.

Reinstating a Suspended License

To reinstate a suspended license, you simply have to “wait it out.” A suspension period can last anywhere from weeks to years and the easiest way to get your license reinstated is to simply follow the rules. Driving with a suspended license is not worth it and will have severe consequences for you. (Think: revoked license, large fines and more months without driving!) To have a suspended license reinstated you will usually have to pay a reinstatement fee, fulfill any listed requirements and demonstrate driver responsibility. All of this, of course, is dependent upon why you received the suspended license in the first place. In some cases, a defensive driving course may be required or an SR-22 form. If you are unemployed or low-income resident, a judge may waive or reduce some of the reinstatement fees.

Certain states do have restricted driving permits for those that have no choice but to drive. These permits aren’t offered in all states and rarely to anyone with more than one offense, but they are an option. A restricted driver’s license may allow you to drive solely to work and home, drop off your children at school or drive to necessary medical appointments. These types of licenses are very limited and have rules that should be followed strictly in order to have your driver’s license reinstated as soon as possible.

Car Insurance and Suspended Licenses:

Remember, risk is a major factor in determining your auto insurance rate. Having a suspended license sends a clear signal that you are a high-risk driver. As a result, your premium is likely to increase.

orange traffic cone clipartIf you have a suspended license and no one else is driving your car, then you may want to cancel your car insurance depending on the length of the suspension period. It probably isn’t worth it to pay an insurance premium for a vehicle you are unable to operate. However, a lapse in auto insurance can result in higher rates later on. 

Either way, your current car insurer will need to know about your suspended license, even if you keep your car insurance policy during the suspension period. Consider yourself fortunate if your auto insurer does not cancel your policy upon hearing of the suspension and expect your rates to increase following your recent high-risk categorization. Your state may require an SR-22 for reinstatement and depending on the severity of your offense, it can be helpful to take a defensive driving course. Some states may require this for certain offenses, but even if they don’t, it may be worth it to receive a discount on your premium. If you have other members in your household who drive your vehicle regularly, you should keep your car insurance policy for the duration of the suspension. They can be labeled as primary drivers instead of you or they could try and purchase their own insurance policy for the vehicle.

Some car insurers may devoid you of coverage after they find out about a license suspension. Your status as “high risk” may leave you without auto insurance. Your best option is to shop around for coverage and compare various quotes. Some car insurers specialize in high-risk drivers so you can find coverage regardless of your situation. Even if your provider still offers you coverage, it can be helpful to see whether other companies offer you the same for less. If your car insurance rate still increases drastically, you could also switch to a car that is less expensive to insure. Additionally, you can also change your car insurance policy to only include comprehensive coverage if your automobile will be parked for the duration of your license suspension. This will protect the vehicle from theft, fires, falling trees, natural disasters, and more. This will also prevent you from accruing a lapse in coverage, which can raise car insurance rates. 

At EverQuote, we know having a suspended license can cause a lot of hardship and stress. Driving privileges are a convenience that we all appreciate and they are indispensable in everyday life. Yet if you try to patiently endure the suspension period and fulfill all requirements, you’ll be on the road again in no time.

Photo credit (top image): Doug Coldwell, Phil Desveaux

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