You can get car insurance even if you have a suspended license. But if your driver's license has been suspended, you're not legally allowed to drive. It's also very likely that your current auto insurance company will cancel or decide not to renew your policy. Your insurer will find out about a license suspension when it pulls your motor vehicle report near renewal time.
Your best bet for getting auto insurance while your license is suspended may be to have someone else listed as the policyholder. This could also mean that person needs to be on the car's title. You would not be listed on the policy while your license is suspended.
If there is no one you can list as a policyholder, it's worth looking into getting a comprehensive insurance-only policy. Comprehensive car insurance covers car theft and damage from problems such as fire, floods, vandalism and falling objects.
Some insurers may be willing to sell you comprehensive insurance if you're keeping the car in storage and no one is driving it. The insurer may require you to file an "affidavit of non-use" with your state.
Do I need insurance if my license is suspended?
There are a few reasons you may need insurance while your license is suspended, including:
- Other drivers are listed on the policy. If you have other drivers on the policy and they use the car, you'll need to maintain car insurance. Talk to your insurance agent about making another driver the primary operator on the policy.
- Avoiding a coverage gap. A policy cancellation will lead to a gap in your auto insurance coverage. Auto insurers see a gap as an increased risk and this will likely result in higher rates when you reinstate coverage. Avoiding a "gap" can save you money in the long run.
- Maintaining coverage on the car while storing it. Even if you plan to keep the car parked at home during the suspension period, you still might want to keep comprehensive car insurance in case of theft or damage from fire, hail, vandalism and other problems.
Why a license might be suspended
The laws in each state vary, but a driver's license can be suspended for several reasons, such as:
- Caught driving without insurance.
- A conviction for driving under the influence (DUI/DWI) of alcohol or drugs.
- Refusal of a breathalyzer or blood alcohol content (BAC) test.
- An accumulation of DMV "points" such as traffic tickets.
- Leaving the scene of an accident.
- Failure to file a motor vehicle accident report.
- Reckless driving or excessive speeding.
- Failure to respond to a traffic court summons.
- Failure to follow the graduated-licensing rules for junior drivers.
- Failure to complete a court-ordered driver-improvement school.
- Having a fake driver's license.
- Underage drinking.
- Failure to pay child support.
- Unpaid tax debts.
- A medical condition that affects your ability to safely drive a car.
How do I reinstate my license after suspension?
You may be able to reinstate your license by appealing the suspension. You'll want to follow your state's appeals rules, but act quickly because there are deadlines for filing. You may have to file an appeal within 10 days of the suspension, depending on your state.
Driver's license suspensions can be:
- Definite: The suspension has a beginning and end date, which can range from days to years. You'll likely have to wait until the suspension period ends before you can reinstate your license. You may also have to pay a suspension-termination fee. For example, in New York, the suspension-termination fee starts at $50.
- Indefinite: A suspension does not end until you take a required action. Common reasons for indefinite suspensions include not answering or paying a traffic ticket, not filing a motor vehicle accident report or failing to pay child support. Once you take the required action, there may also be a suspension-termination fee before you get the license back.
In some states, you may be required to have an SR-22 form before you can legally drive again after a license suspension. This is a form that proves you have car insurance. Your insurance company will have to file it with the state. Not all insurance companies offer SR-22 insurance. If yours doesn't, you'll have to switch car insurance companies.
More from state DMVs:
- California's administrative hearings process
- Georgia appeal procedures
- Illinois administrative hearings
- Michigan driver's license hearing requests
- New York's administrative appeal
- Pennsylvania suspensions and revocations
- Texas administrative license revocation hearings
What's the difference between a suspended and a revoked license?
These terms are nearly the same: Both mean the state has withdrawn a person's privileges to drive, but license revocation is typically for more serious acts, such as a DUI, leaving the scene of an accident that results in an injury or death, or driving the car while committing a felony.
When a license is revoked, it won't be restored until the revocation period has ended. Once the revocation period is over, you may have to apply for a new license, pay fees and complete both a written and driving skills test.
Will I be notified if my license was suspended?
Depending on the state, you'll be notified your license is suspended by the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), the Department of Public Safety (DPS) or another government agency.
They will send the notification to the address on record.
How long does a suspended license stay on your record?
The length of time a suspended license stays on your record depends on the state and the severity of the violation. For example, if your license was suspended for a DUI conviction, it could be on your driving record for 10 years or more.
Does a suspended license affect insurance?
If your license was suspended for a moving violation, it's likely to also affect your auto insurance rates. Depending on the state, auto insurance companies often look at the last three to five years of driving history in setting a rate.