Drivers License When can my Drivers License be Suspended or Revoked?

  1. It is important to know that your ability to drive on the road is not a constitutionally protected right – it’s merely a privilege. Your driver’s license can be suspended for a period of time even for violations that not directly related to your operation of a motor vehicle. And when certain driver misconduct warrants more serious measures, your license can be revoked.

    Each state has its own specific driving regulations, which can be found at a state department of motor vehicles office or on its website. It is presumed that you are aware of these regulations each time that you drive your car, truck, motorcycle or other motor vehicle.

    Driver’s License Suspension for Non-Driving Violations

    Every state in the United States has specific non-driving offenses that can result in the suspension of your driving privileges. The most common non-driving related suspension of your driver’s license is a failure to comply with child support orders. North Carolina, South Dakota, New Hampshire and New Mexico are the only states that don’t specifically follow this trend, although the law can change. Other non-driving offenses which can lead to suspension include:

    • Failure to maintain a valid driver’s license
    • Failure to maintain required automobile insurance coverage
    • Failure to appear in court for a summons issued for parking tickets or moving violations
    • Failure to pay a Department of Motor Vehicles (“DMV”) fine, fee or surcharge
    • The use of modified or fake license plates
    • Convictions for drug offenses unrelated to DUI / DWI laws
    • Alcohol and drug offenses committed by minors unrelated to DUI / DWI laws
    • Acts of truancy and juvenile delinquency

    Driving Offenses Resulting in License Suspension

    Traffic Violations - The Point System

    The suspension or revocation of a driver’s license most frequently occurs as a result of receiving traffic tickets. Traffic violations are assigned a certain number of “points” that correspond to levels of severity of traffic offenses. If you generate a specific number of points within a certain period of time, it can result in your license being suspended.

    For example, the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles issues 3 points for speeding up to 10 Miles Per Hour (MPH) above the speed limit and 5 points for reckless driving. A driver who accumulates 11 points from traffic convictions within an 18 month period is subject to a suspension or revocation of their New York State Driver’s License. In California, reckless driving qualifies for two points with a typical speeding ticket being assessed one point. Accumulating just four points in 12 months could lead to the suspension of one’s California State Driver’s License as a result of being considered a “negligent operator” under California's Negligent Operator Treatment System. A traffic ticket attorney is highly recommended in cases where many points have been issued for serious traffic violations and when one’s driver’s license is in jeopardy of being suspended.

    Other Driving Related Reasons for License Suspension

    The most common non-DUI related suspensions include drag racing, reckless driving, careless driving (in a minority of states) and the failure to remain at the scene of an accident. An assault that occurs as a result of “road rage” on a public highway against another motorist, bicyclist or pedestrian can also result your driver’s license being suspended.

    Implied Consent and DUI Laws

    Drivers who have (1) a DUI / DWI conviction and (2) generate a certain number of points from traffic tickets and qualifying violations will have their driver’s license suspended in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. All states have enacted “Implied Consent” laws, prompted by a need to combat the frequency of drunk driving. As mentioned above, driving is a privilege and not a right. In return for providing residents with a driver’s license, it is implied that every driver consents to a field sobriety test when requested by a police officer. This includes a breathalyzer test or some other sobriety test to determine drug or alcohol impairment. A refusal or failure to comply can result in an automatic driver’s license suspension. A conviction for driving with a suspended license will result in revocation, typically from several months up to one year. Habitual violators are subject to having their driver’s license suspended for multiple years. Even if you are ultimately found not guilty of a DUI or DWI offense, your license can still be suspended for violation of implied consent laws.

    Notice Prior to Suspension of Your Driver’s License

    Before a driver’s license is suspended, the traffic court usually sends a notice. The notice will typically include the date that the suspension begins and whether there are outstanding issues which can be remedied so that the driver can avoid the license suspension. For example, the driver may be given the opportunity to pay outstanding DMV fines or back child support prior to the suspension taking effect. Suspension notices, procedures and communications vary between states but most include the following:

    • Driver information: Name, address on file with the Department of Motor Vehicles, driver’s license number and other relevant personal information
    • Official notice that the driver’s license has been suspended
    • A list of offenses that were the cause for the suspension or revocation including the date, case number and relevant information
    • The date the suspension or revocation starts
    • The date the suspension ends
    Once a driver’s license is suspended, the driver will usually receive a notice from the Secretary of State’s office declaring the suspension of driving privileges within state boundaries. For this reason, it may be prudent to consult with a traffic ticket attorney as early as possible in the event you believe that your driving privileges may be in danger of being suspended.

    Michael Wechsler

    Michael Wechsler
    Michael M. Wechsler is an experienced attorney, founder of, A. Research Scholar at Columbia Business School and of-counsel to Kaplan, Williams & Graffeo, LLC. He was also an SVP and chief Internet strategist at and legal consultant at Kroll Ontrack, a leading service e-discovery and computer forensics service provider.


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