How to Reinstate a Suspended License

By: Staff Writer June 2, 2012
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License Suspension Notice from the DMV

Your state's DMV determines your reinstatement plan based on the license suspension. For example, a license suspension for excessive points might have different reinstatement requirements than a license suspended for driving under the influence (DUI) or failing to maintain car insurance.

The DMV will mail you a suspended license notice to the address on file (more reason to always alert the DMV of address changes). You can also check the status of your driver's license by obtaining a copy of your driving record.

On it will be:

  • The reason for your license suspension.
  • The length of the suspension, determined by the severity of the violation and whether you're a repeat offender.
  • Special requirements. A DUI suspension, for instance, may require completing a class on substance abuse. Or a license suspension for reckless driving may mandate enrolling in a defensive driving course.

Unless you're eligible for a restricted license - driving to and from work or school - you cannot drive with a suspended license. Challenging this is not advised. If caught, you'll face heavy fines, a longer suspension period, and the possibility of your drivers license getting revoked or cancelled.

Reinstate License

You can pursue license reinstatement once you're suspension period has ended.

Again, each state DMV governs suspended license reinstatements differently, but in general you will need to fulfill all or some of the following requirements:

  • Pay a license reinstatement fee.
  • Present proof of car insurance (if applicable). In some cases - usually DUI or for driving without auto insurance - this may involve providing SR-22 Proof of Financial Responsibility.
  • Provide proof of outfitting your car with an ignition interlock device (if applicable).
  • Furnish evidence of completing a required course, such as traffic school or an alcohol and substance abuse course.
  • Passing your state's driver license tests (if applicable).
  • Resolve all criminal charges if your license suspension resulted from an active court case (i.e. Child Support or Failure to Appear).

Keep in mind that most states do not mail license reinstatement notices. Knowing when your suspension period ends falls on you. If you're unsure, contact your DMV or check your driving record.

NOTE: If you move to another state during your license suspension, you may need a clearance letter from your former state's DMV for reinstatement.

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