If you accrue too many points for speeding, are caught driving without insurance, or found to be driving under the influence, your state may suspend your license. Having a suspended license means you can't drive your car legally, making it impossible to drive to work or run everyday errands and forcing you to find alternative transportation. Getting your driver's license reinstated as quickly as possible will depend on your state and the reason for your suspension. Here's what you need to know.
- Your license can be suspended for driving without insurance, too many traffic violations, driving under the influence, and even some non-driving related reasons.
- To get your license reinstated, you’ll have to pay fines and possibly take classes.
- You may need a special insurance form to qualify for a reinstated license.
Why a License May Be Suspended
Your license can be suspended for a number of reasons, including driving under the influence (DUI) and reckless driving. However, it’s also possible for it to be suspended for other causes. In all 50 states, states and courts can take away driving privileges for non-driving reasons. Depending on the jurisdiction, those may include:
- Not paying child support
- Failure to maintain proper insurance
- Failure to appear in court to satisfy a summons for a moving violation
- Convictions for drug-related offenses that occurred while not driving
- Failure to pay motor vehicle fines
Nationwide, at least 11 million people have their licenses suspended each year because they cannot pay fines or fees, not for safety infractions.
License Suspensions Due to Medical Issues
In some cases, your license can be suspended if you are diagnosed with a medical issue such as epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, schizophrenia, or certain eye diseases.
Your doctor, family members, or support agencies can report your condition to the state department of motor vehicles (DMV); if that happens, a medical advisory board will typically review your health information to determine whether the report is valid. If the board finds that your condition presents a risk to public safety if you drive, it may suspend or completely revoke your license.
If you receive treatment for your health issues and they’re now well-controlled, you can submit updated documentation to the medical advisory board for review and reconsideration. In some cases, your license will be reinstated without penalty.
How to Find Out if Your License Is Suspended
Depending on the circumstances, you may not be aware that your license has been suspended. If you're concerned that it might have been, here's how to find out.
1. Watch Your Mail
In most cases, the state department of motor vehicles or department of transportation will send a suspension notice to you through the mail. So make sure you open any pieces of mail in your name and that the DMV has your current address.
2. Check With the DMV
Some states have online databases you can use to check the status of your license. By entering your driver’s license number, Social Security number, or other information, you can find out if your license is suspended and if your insurance is current. You can also call your local DMV to inquire about your driver's license's status.
3. Contact Your Insurance Company
Contact your insurance company or agent to find out if your insurance policy expired, or if they have been notified that your license was suspended for any other reason.
What You Need to Do to Get Your License Reinstated
If your license has been suspended, it is possible to get it reinstated. Depending on where you live and the reason for the suspension, you may have to complete one or more of the following steps:
1. Take an Approved Class
If your license was suspended due to DUI, reckless driving, or the accumulation of points, you will likely need to take an approved class to qualify for reinstatement. Those include:
- DUI programs. Approved DUI programs are typically run by nonprofit organizations that provide drug and alcohol education to DUI offenders. The length of the course depends on whether it's your first offense or you have multiple offenses, but most take several hours. Besides successfully completing the course, you will have to pay a fee to take it. For example, Florida drivers who take a DUI program must pay a $280 registration fee if it's their first offense.
- Defensive driving programs. Your state may require you to complete a defensive driving course or driver improvement class. During these classes, you'll re-learn driving basics and proper safety measures, and an instructor may assess your driving skills. Depending on your state, you may be able to take some classes online.
2. Pay the Fees
When you apply for your license to be reinstated, you will typically have to pay fees. For example, the reinstatement fee in South Dakota ranges from $50 to $200. In Michigan, it can be as low as $25 or as high as $125. The cost is usually based on what caused your license to be suspended and whether it was your first offense.
3. Get SR-22/FR-44 Insurance
If your license was previously suspended, your state might require you to get an SR-22 form, also known as a certificate of financial responsibility, before you can legally drive. In Florida and Virginia, the form is known as FR-44.
The SR-22 shows that you meet the state's auto liability requirements. It's an additional document you need to carry in addition to your proof of insurance.
Not all insurers offer SR-22 or FR-44 forms. If your current auto insurance company doesn’t issue them, you’ll have to purchase one from another insurer.
Be Patient While Waiting for Reinstatement
The penalties for driving with a suspended or revoked license can be severe. If you are stopped by police and found to have a suspended license, you may have to pay hefty fines and you could even face jail time. So try to be patient while waiting for your license to be reinstated, and don’t get behind the wheel until you receive a notification from the DMV that says your license is valid again.