Suspended vs Revoked License

When you transgress the rules of the road, a fine or possible jail time are not the only things to worry about. Depending on the severity of the violation, you may also have your license suspended or revoked. 

The key difference between a license suspension and revocation is permanency. A suspended license is temporary, while a revoked license is permanent. 

What Is a Suspended License? 

A suspended license can be a pain, as it means your driving privileges are removed for a period of time. While this may happen as a result of a traffic offense, you may also face a license suspension if you break the law in other ways. 

When Is a License Suspended?

It's not just traffic violations such as driving under the influence (DUI) and reckless driving that might result in a license suspension. Other instances that may cause a court to suspend your license include: 

  • Failure to pay traffic fines 

  • Failure to appear in court for traffic violations 

  • If you don't pay child support 

  • When you don't pay financial obligations from a previous accident 

  • Criminal activity 

  • Driving without insurance

  • Failure to report an accident 

  • You have too many points on your driving record

Some states are looking into scrapping license suspensions due to non-traffic-related offenses. As an example, Massachusetts previously suspended over 7,000 drivers every year for drug offenses. But in 2016, Massachusetts passed a law that ended driver's license suspensions for non-serious drug offenses that were unrelated to driving.

How Long Can a License Be Suspended? 

This may differ from state to state, but typically a suspension can be for as little as a week to as long as five years. 

In California, suspensions typically run between a month to a year. However, offenders that commit more severe violations can face a license suspension of up to four years

The Conditions for Reinstating a Suspended License 

Each state has different conditions for reinstatement. Typical conditions include: 

  • Wait out the suspension period 

  • Complete the requirements for reinstatement as stipulated by the court 

  • Attend a defensive driving class 

  • Pay reinstatement fees and the initial fine as determined by the court 

In states such as Florida, drivers can apply for a hardship license. This allows the driver to still travel to work and school. However, recreational travel is not allowed. 

What Is a Revoked License? 

A revoked license means your license is canceled. You will need to apply for a new license when the revocation period ends (if there is an end date). 

When Is a License Revoked? 

A license revocation is a serious step a court takes to limit the driving freedom of a driver. It's not always due to traffic offenses, as courts may decide to revoke a license if a driver has a serious medical condition that prevents them from driving safely. Other reasons may include: 

  • Multiple traffic violations and license suspensions

  • You were driving without insurance 

  • The documents you provided to the DMV were falsified 

  • You were convicted for a drug or alcohol-related DUI

  • You failed a DMV road test 

  • A court convicted you of serious traffic offenses

How Long Does License Revocation Last? 

In states such as California, a license revocation can last for as long as three years. A driver may apply for a new license when this period runs out. 

The Conditions for Reinstating a Revoked License 

Conditions for getting your license reinstated vary depending on where you live. Most states will provide you a list of steps to complete before applying for a new license. These might include:

  • Waiting out the revocation period

  • Reviewing any violations

  • Submitting an application for license reinstatement

  • Paying related application fees or fines

When Your License Is Revoked or Suspended 

Having your license revoked or suspended can a be frustrating and costly affair. Check to see whether your state allows restricted or limited licenses to allow you to still drive to work or school. It's also worth seeing if you can work toward reinstating your license faster by meeting certain conditions. These could include providing proof of insurance or completing a driver's corrective program, such as our online traffic school.

Take your Traffic School or Defensive Driving Course Online Today!

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