Revocation of License: How Does a Driver's License Get Revoked?

Nobody wants to get a driver's license revocation notice. It can disrupt your life, making it much more difficult to go about your daily business. But how can your license get revoked and is there anything you can do? Here's what you should know. 

What Is a Driver's License Revocation? 

The revocation of your license means that the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) cancels your license and you can't reinstate it. As a result, you can no longer legally operate a vehicle.  

How Does a Driver's License Get Revoked?

Your driver's license can get revoked for a number of reasons, including:

1. Medical Conditions

The DMV will often be concerned if they learn of medical conditions that could cause a danger to you or anyone else on the road. The following confirmed conditions could lead to a license revocation:

  • Heart problems

  • Partial blindness

  • Epilepsy or seizures

  • Lapses of consciousness

  • Sleep disorders 

  • Dementia

  • Alzheimer's

  • Pulmonary disorders

2. Multiple Driving Offenses

If you continue to rack up convictions for driving offenses, some states will label you a Habitual Traffic Offender (HTO). This can lead to having your license suspended or revoked. For example, in California, you could lose your license for two convictions of offenses within one year that have a violation point value of two or more. You could also face revocation of your license for three or more accidents within one year. 

4. Fraud

If the DMV finds out you are guilty of fraud that relates to the application or use of your driver's license, they may revoke it. 

5. Alcohol or Drug Addiction

If you are convicted of an offense involving drugs or alcohol, your license will often be suspended. Repeat or felony offenses often lead to revocation. 

6. Reckless Driving/Racing

In most states, your license will automatically be suspended if you are convicted of reckless driving which includes racing. If you have any prior history of reckless driving, you may face revocation of your license. 

7. Hit-and-Run

You could also lose your license if you cause an accident that leads to an injury and flee from the scene. 

8. Failure to Appear

Lastly, if you are required to appear in court for a traffic ticket but don't, the DMV can suspend your license, and you may eventually face driver's license revocation. 

Revoked vs. Suspended Driver's License: What's the Difference?

When a driver's license is revoked, it is canceled permanently. On the other hand, if a license has been suspended, it is only temporarily invalid. With a suspension, you still have a chance to take steps that will enable your license to be valid again. 

Can You Get a Revoked License Back?

The laws on reinstatement of a revoked license will vary by state and depend on the situation. In Illinois, for example, if you lost your license because you were convicted of a DUI, you can have your driving privileges reinstated if you:

  • Have a clean driving record

  • Undergo and pass a drug/alcohol evaluation

  • Complete a drug/alcohol remediation program

  • Undergo a hearing and make your case with the Secretary of State hearing officer

  • Pay a fee

  • Pass the driver's license exam

  • Show proof of insurance

In short, if reinstatement is possible, it is not an easy process. Cases are often heard and decided on a case-by-case basis and can come with fees, education requirements, and more. To find out the details, you'll want to look up the laws in your state. 

Prevent License Revocation with Driver's Education

If you are heading down the path toward a driver's license revocation, or know someone who is, it's probably a good time for a refresher on driving best practices. At, we make it easy with our online adult driver's ed program. Sign up online and complete the courses from your phone or computer when it fits into your schedule. 

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