Driver's License Suspensions

Find out how your driver license can be suspended, and what you can do to prevent it.

Generally, you won't face license suspension if you get a ticket for speeding or rolling through a stop sign. But if you rack up too many moving violations or are convicted of a more serious driving-related offense, license suspension is definitely a possibility. Below you'll find a discussion of common reasons for license suspension, the procedure your state might follow to take your license away, and what you can do to fight a license suspension.

Driver License Suspension for Multiple Moving Violations

For minor traffic violations like speeding, running a stop sign, running a red light, or texting while driving, license suspension generally isn't going to be one of the possible consequences of a conviction. But if you accumulate too many tickets in a short period of time, you do run the risk of temporarily losing your driving privileges.

Traffic Violation Point Systems

Most states handle driver license suspensions using a system that assigns a certain number of points for each type of moving violation. (Some states also imposed points for accidents.) If you get too many points in a certain period of time (two or three years in many states), you'll face license suspension.

Point Suspensions

Each state's point system is different. But, generally, a driver will start to risk license suspension after being convicted of three or four moving violations within the relevant time period. Point suspensions normally range from about 30 days to six months.

Keeping Your Points Down

Of course, the best way to keep your points down and avoid a point suspension is to not get tickets. But if you do get a ticket, there's another way to keep points off your record. Most states allow drivers to complete traffic school (also called "defensive driving") for a first violation within a certain period of time (usually, one year to two years). When a driver does traffic school for a violation, no points are assessed to the driver's record.

When Judges Have Discretion to Order Suspension

In some states, traffic court judges have the discretion to suspend a driver's license for any traffic conviction. Most judges in these states probably don't use this discretion often. But if a case involves aggravating factors such as an accident or the driver having several recent violations, it certainly increases the chances of the judge ordering a suspension.

Suspensions for Serious Driving-Related Convictions

For more serious driving-related offenses, license suspension is normally a possibility or mandatory. For instance, some states impose mandatory license suspension for excessive speeding (where the driver exceeds the speed limit by a huge amount). And, some period of license suspension is almost always required for motorists convicted of driving under the influence (DUI).

Younger Drivers

In most states, drivers who are under the age of 18 are subject to stricter rules than older drivers. Under these types of rules, underage drivers may face license suspension for even a first minor traffic offense.

Obtaining a "Restricted" or "Hardship" License

Depending on the circumstances of your suspension, you might be able to obtain a "hardship" license to drive to and from certain places during your suspension. Typically, a hardship license comes with restrictions that limit where and when the person is allowed to drive. For DUI/DWI offenders, having an ignition interlock device (IID) installed might be a prerequisite for obtaining a hardship license.

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