Why is My License Suspended?

Whether you missed a court appearance or were recently diagnosed with epilepsy, there are quite a few sneaky reasons your driver’s license may be suspended.
Written by Macy Fouse
Reviewed by Kathleen Flear
DUIs and reckless driving aren’t the only ways your driver’s license could be suspended. Missing a child support payment, skipping a court date, or driving without
car insurance
are all potential reasons you could lose your driving privileges. 
  • There are driving-related and financial-related reasons your license could be suspended—plus a few others.
  • Your license isn’t automatically valid after your suspension period is over.

Why your driver’s license might be suspended

Finding out
your license is suspended
is no small ordeal. After all, being without driving privileges for any amount of time can cause major stress and inconvenience—especially if you weren’t expecting it. 
While most people are aware of the major moving violations that lead to license suspension, like a DUI conviction, there are a few sneaky ways you can temporarily lose your license that you may not be aware of. Every state has different laws about license suspensions, though, so what’s grounds for
license suspension in California
may not get your
license suspended in Texas
In general, license suspensions fall under two categories: driving-related suspensions and finance-related suspensions
As the name suggests, driving-related license suspensions happen as a result of major moving violations or other driving laws. Let’s take a look at a few examples of driving-related license suspensions.

Driving under the influence

Driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs is a very serious offense often labeled a
. Some states may have other names for it, like driving while intoxicated (DWI) or operating under the influence (OWI). Every state has different BAC (blood alcohol content) limits and laws surrounding DUIs, but a suspended driver’s license is a primary consequence in most states—though the suspension periods, reinstatement process, and restrictions will vary. 

Reckless driving

Similar to a DUI conviction, getting caught driving recklessly is another violation that almost always leads to license suspension. 
Reckless driving is typically defined as driving with a blatant disregard for the safety of persons or property, and it doesn’t have to include a car accident or damage to count as reckless driving. Driving at high speeds, street racing, and high-risk passing are all considered reckless driving, and they could lead to a suspension of your driving privileges. 

Driving uninsured 

Nearly all states have
car insurance requirements
that drivers need to meet before they can legally get behind the wheel of their registered vehicle. Getting caught
driving without car insurance
that meets these requirements could easily lead to a license suspension.
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Here’s where it gets tricky. Most drivers assume their license can only be suspended as a direct result of driving behaviors, but there are a handful of financial causes that could lead to your driving privileges being suspended. Here are some of the most common ones:
  • Neglecting to pay a
    traffic ticket
    : Something as simple as not paying a traffic ticket could lead to your license being suspended. 
  • Not paying your financial obligations after a car accident: If you were found to be
    at fault for a car accident
    and your liability car insurance wasn’t enough to cover the damages, you’ll have to pay the rest out of pocket. Failure to do so may lose you your license—or worse.  
  • Being the subject of a car accident civil suit: Similarly, if you were determined to be at fault for an accident and became involved in a civil lawsuit as a result, your license may be suspended. 
  • Failure to pay child support: This isn’t the case in all states, but missing child support payments can lead to a license suspension or even
    losing your license
    to revocation altogether. 

Other reasons for driver’s license suspensions

Getting your license suspended for driving-related or financial-related reasons is easy enough to understand, but they aren’t the only reasons your driver’s license could be suspended. You could be facing license suspension if you:
  • …use a driver’s license illegally: Sharing your driver’s license with someone else for illegal purposes—such as underage drinking—can result in losing your license.
  • …accumulate too many
    driver violation points
    on your record: Many states employ a point system to keep up with drivers’ traffic violations. Rack up too many of these points and you may just lose your driving privileges for a time. 
  • …attempt to flee from a law enforcement officer: Trying to elude a police officer for any reason may count as reckless driving in some states, but it could result in a suspended license even without a reckless driving conviction.
  • …miss your court date: If you’re ordered to appear in court and don’t show up, it may be grounds for license suspension in some states—even if the court date wasn’t driving-related.
  • …get diagnosed with a certain medical condition: In some states, medical conditions like epilepsy, schizophrenia, multiple sclerosis, or eye diseases may cause your driver’s license to be suspended until your case has been reviewed by the medical board of your state’s Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). 

How to get your driver’s license reinstated

Thankfully, license suspensions don’t last forever… although you won’t magically get your license back when the suspension period is over. You’ll have to go through a few hoops to
get a suspended license reinstated
, and—you guessed it—every state’s reinstatement process is different
Depending on your state’s laws, here are some of the requirements you may have to fulfill to get your license reinstated:
  • Pay a reinstatement fee: Almost every state charges a fee to reinstate your license. These can range from $5 to $1,200 depending on the state and circumstances. 
  • Take a
    defensive driving course
    : This will likely be required if your suspension was related to a DUI or reckless driving charge. 
  • Complete a DUI program: If your license was suspended after a DUI, some states require completing a drug and alcohol education program—and they usually charge a fee.
  • Install an ignition interlock device: After a DUI, you may be required to have a device that requires your BAC to be below a certain level before you can start your car. Eligibility will vary, but this may be an option before your suspension period is over in some cases. 
  • Get
    FR-44 insurance
    . Your state will often require you to get SR-22 or FR-44 insurance as a result. This is a certificate—filed by your insurance company—that serves as a guarantee to the state that you carry the minimum required coverage. 
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As with most driving laws and penalties, this depends on your state’s specific laws as well as why your license was suspended and how many times it’s been suspended. In most states, driving with a suspended license involves jail time and hefty fines.
The license reinstatement fee varies by state. For instance, the reinstatement fee for Florida drivers is $55 while the fee in Massachusetts can be up to $1,200.
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