If your 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 your license suspension when it pulls your motor vehicle report near renewal time. However, there are a few reasons you may want car insurance while your license is suspended:
- Other drivers are listed on the policy. If you have other drivers on your 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. If your license suspension is for a long period of time, the other driver may want to purchase a policy in their name.
- Avoiding a coverage gap. A cancellation will lead to a gap in your auto insurance coverage. Auto insurers see a gap as an increased risk which will likely result in higher rates when you reinstate your coverage.
- Maintaining coverage on your car while storing it. Even if you plan to keep the car parked at home during your suspension period, you might want to keep comprehensive insurance in case of theft or damage from fire, hail, vandalism and other problems.
Can you get car insurance with a suspended license?
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-only policy. Some insurers may be willing to work with you if you're keeping the car in storage and no one is driving it. Your insurer may require you to file an affidavit of non-use with your state.
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Why your license might be suspended
The laws in each state vary, but a driver's license can be suspended for several possible reasons, such as:
- Driving without insurance
- Driving under the influence (DUI/DWI) of alcohol or drugs
- Refusal of a breathalyzer or blood alcohol content (BAC) test
- An accumulation of "points" such as unpaid fines or 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 to get your license reinstated after suspension
If your license was suspended, you may be able to appeal the decision. You'll want to follow your state's appeals rules, but act quickly as you may have to file an appeal petition within 30 days of the suspension.
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, you must pay a $50 suspension termination fee before the state will mail your license back to you.
- Indefinite: The 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 and failing to pay child support. Once you take the required action, there may also be a suspension termination fee associated with getting your license back.
In some states, you may have to have an SR-22 form before you can legally drive again. This is a form that proves you have car insurance. Your insurance company will have to file it. Not all insurance companies offer SR-22 insurance. If yours doesn't, you'll have to switch car insurance companies.
What's the difference between a suspended and a revoked license?
The terms are nearly the same: The state has decided a person's privileges to drive are withdrawn, 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 renewed or restored until the revocation period has ended. Once the revocation period has ended, you may have to apply for a new license, pay fees and complete both a written and driving skills test.