Suspended License in California
Either the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) or the court can temporarily withdraw your privilege to drive. To find out whether your license is suspended you can check your driving record or consult the DMV.
Check Your Driving Record
Many states allow you to check your driving record through a third-party vendor. Unfortunately at this time, California is not one of those states. Therefore you must go to the DMV to confirm your status or request a driving record by mail.
- Order Driving Record Online
The DMV doesn't allow you to obtain your record online, so you'll need to handle this task either in person or through the mail. Follow the instructions below.
- Order Driving Record In Person
When you go to the DMV, you won’t necessarily need to obtain a driving record to determine the status of your license. But if you want to see what the DMV has on file regarding your license number, you might want to order one.
- Complete a Request for Your Own Driver License Record (INF 1125).
- Be prepared to pay the $5 fee. Acceptable forms of payment at the DMV include cash, check, money order, or ATM/debit card. Credit cards are not accepted.
- Make an appointment and visit the nearest DMV office.
- Order Driving Record By Mail
- Fill out a Request for Your Own Driver License Record (INF 1125).
- Include a check or money order to cover the $5 fee.
- Mail the application and fee to the DMV Headquarters:
- Department of Motor Vehicles
- P.O. Box 944247 MS G199
- Sacramento, CA 94244-2470
Suspended in All States?
Many of the state motor vehicle agencies provide a database known as the National Driver Register (NDR) with info on drivers with revoked or suspended licenses. They also report drivers to this computerized database who have been convicted of serious traffic violations. Therefore if your license is suspended in one state, it's likely that another state will not issue you a license.
Nearly all states are also part of the Driver License Compact (DLC) which works similarly to the NDR. The compact is an exchange of info on non-residents who obtain license suspensions and traffic violations in states other than their home state. Through the compact, such info is sent back to the state that licensed the offenders so that their offenses could be subject to home-state laws.
Because the length of suspension varies due to the reason of suspension, the penalties also vary. Call the DMV at (800) 777-0133 during normal business hours―between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday, and between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Wednesday―to find out more about your particular situation.
When you call, have handy your driver’s license number and any other paperwork from the DMV.
Contact an Attorney
Depending on the severity of your situation, you might consider seeking legal advice from a lawyer should you get caught driving on a suspended license. An attorney used to dealing with situations like yours might be able to make your life a little easier.
In certain circumstances, you can apply for and obtain a restricted license. For example, first-time DUI offenders can complete a DUI program through the state to then be eligible for a restricted driver’s license.
To learn more about the options available for your particular situation, contact the DMV at (800) 777-0133 or consult an attorney.
Not everyone has the option to reinstate; in fact license suspension can range from 30 days for a first-time conviction for reckless driving to an indefinite amount of time if you have been diagnosed with a permanent physical condition that prevents you from safely getting behind the wheel.
Below are a handful of common scenarios that might offer some insight. Your best bet is to consult an attorney for expert advice.
NOTE: Some of the following situations could force a change in your current insurance policy. Consult our Insurance Center if you need to compare quotes online.
- Go to the DMV to pay your reissue fee and file proof of financial responsibility (car insurance).
- Pay the court what you owe in fines.
- Make it through your negligent operator probation without getting a traffic violation or getting into an avoidable accident.
- Make it through the mandatory suspension period, complete a possible prison term, or both.
- Complete a DUI treatment program, and then file a Notice of Completion Certificate (DL 101).
- Make an appointment to visit the DMV to pay your reissue fee and file proof of financial responsibility (California Insurance Proof Certificate, SR 22).
- Pay the court any fines you might owe.
NOTE: If you meet certain reinstatement requirements you might be able to obtain a restricted license before you complete your mandatory suspension period. Consult a DUI attorney or the DMV.
Physical/Mental Condition or Disorder
- Obtain a satisfactory Driver Medical Evaluation (DS 326) and any other proof from a physician that indicates you can safely get behind the wheel.
- Make an appointment to submit your paperwork.
Conditions that involve a loss of consciousness, decreased alertness, poor judgment, diminished vision, and lack of agility are grounds for license suspension. The DMV provides extensive information on this matter including general guidelines for handling physical or mental conditions.
Car Accident Without Proof of financial responsibility
- Once you make it through the one-year suspension, make an appointment at the DMV to:
- Pay the reissue fee.
- Show proof of financial responsibility (California Insurance Proof Certificate, SR 22).
Unpaid Traffic Citation/Failure to Appear in Court
- Go to the court to pay your citations and possibly appear before a judge.
- The court will give you either a Failed to Pay (FTP) or a Failed to Appear (FTA) abstract noting you have fulfilled whatever the requirement may be.
- Make an appointment at the DMV to pay your reissue fee.
NOTE: Since reinstatement requirements vary with each suspension, call the DMV at (800) 777-0133 for help with your situation.
The best way to keep your record clean is to avoid the following:
Accumulating Excessive Points
The DMV maintains a record of all your traffic convictions using what is known as The Negligent Operator Treatment System (NOTS). If you get too many points on your record within a specified period of time, your license can be suspended or revoked. To learn more about NOTS, visit the state site.
Getting Involved in an Accident Without Proof of financial responsibility
When you are involved in an accident, the DMV might inquire with your insurance company whether you were adequately covered at the time of the accident. If not, the DMV will suspend your license for one year.
Not Reporting Certain Accidents
State law requires all drivers involved in a car accident to file a Report of Traffic Accident form within 10 days if anyone was injured or killed, or if damage exceeds $750. Failure to file a report could result in the suspension of your driver's license.
Getting Arrested for DUI
This state has some of the toughest DUI laws in the country, and your license can be suspended for at least four months upon your first conviction alone. You may petition for a restricted license in some cases (not many). A second and third conviction may cause you to lose your license for two to four years. Consult our page on DUI for more info, and consider hiring a DUI attorney.
Drinking Before Turning 21
The state has a zero-tolerance law for those younger than 21, which means that no amount of alcohol in your blood is acceptable if you're driving. You'll lose your driver's license for one year.
Refusing to Take a Drug or Alcohol Test
The state's implied consent laws mean that if you refuse a blood, breath, or urine test to avoid getting a DUI, your license will be suspended or revoked―even if you're innocent.
The DMV and the courts have taken a hard stance against vandalism. If you are convicted of such a charge, your driver's license will be suspended for one year. If you're too young to drive, your right to apply for a driver's license will be delayed by one year.
Failing to Pay (FTP)/Failing to Appear (FTA) in Court on a Traffic Citation
Whenever you sign a traffic ticket, you are signing a promise to appear in court. If you neither show up nor pay the fine on time, the court will report your failure to appear to the DMV, and your license may be suspended.
Failing to Pay Family Support
Failing to pay your required child support payments can lead to having your license suspended. If this happens, you'll be given a 150-day temporary license. During this period, you're expected to satisfactorily address your situation with the Department of Child Support Services (DCSS).
Other Topics in This Section
Your Opinion Matters To Us!Send Feedback
- Order Driving Record Online
We put a lot of effort into making our content helpful & accurate. Please let us know if you see something that isn't clear or correct; we are here to ease any frustrations you may have while navigating DMV topics. We are not a government agency, please reach out to your local DMV, insurance agent, or respective professional for further assistance on specific situations.