Suspended vs. Revoked License: The Differences

We’re all aware that traffic laws exist, but unfortunately, that doesn’t mean we always follow them. Not complying with certain driving laws can result in getting your driving privileges revoked or suspended. On this page, we’ll talk about a suspended vs revoked license, and how to get each reinstated.

Getting Your License Suspended

A license suspension is typically a temporary hold placed on your license that deems you unable to legally drive for a period of time until your application for reinstatement is approved. License suspensions occur after a review of your driving record and any qualifying violation. Most states issue two different types of suspensions:

  • Definite, which means there is a specific timeframe during which your license will be invalid.
  • Indefinite, which means that your license will remain invalid until you take the necessary action to correct it.

Reasons for Getting a License Suspended

The suspension period depends on the type of violation. Reasons for having your license definitely suspended vary by state, but some common reasons are:

Similarly, the reasons for getting your license indefinitely suspended also vary by state, but typically happen as a result of failure to pay for certain things such as:

  • Traffic citations.
  • Child support.
  • Taxes.

Getting Your License Revoked

What does it mean when your license is revoked? Revocation means you lose the privilege to drive and is required by law upon conviction of certain driving offenses. Having your license revoked is pretty serious, and usually happens as a result of:

In a lot of states, you will need to complete some type of defensive driving program before you can apply for a new license. Take New York for instance, where the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) will require you to complete a Driver Improvement Unit (DIU).

You cannot reinstate a revoked driver’s license: You can only go through the steps to get approved to apply for a new one. These steps vary by state, so make sure to go through your state agency if you have questions about specific requirements.

Getting Your License Reinstated

If you plan on driving again after having your license suspended, the next step will be the process of suspended license reinstatement. You will first need to check the status of your driver’s license with your state agency to make sure that your license is even eligible to be renewed. Every state has a different process for reinstating a suspended license.

For example, in Arizona, you will need to:

  • Fill out and turn in an investigation packet. You may either need to mail it in, or have an approved evaluator fill out the forms.
  • Once your packet is reviewed, you will receive a Permission to Reapply Notice in the mail ONLY if you are eligible to reapply.
  • Have proof of Future Financial Responsibility, but ONLY for alcohol and drug-related convictions.
  • Take your permission to reapply notice along with your proof to the Motor Vehicle Division, complete an application, pay the $20 reinstatement fee and an application fee.
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