What are the Legal Consequences of Driving with a Revoked or Suspended License?

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For every traffic violation, there is a potential legal consequence. Depending on the severity of the violation, the consequences can range from a warning to license revocation. And when your license is revoked or suspended, you will not be allowed to drive.

The “punishments” that the state imposes for violations are intended to help drivers reflect on their actions and improve their driving habits. Overall, this is one way to keep a community safe.

Reasons for license revocation

Depending on the state, different reasons can result in a revoked license. Some of the most common reasons include:

  • DUI/DWI- This is when you’re caught driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. The legal limit for blood alcohol content (BAC) is 0.08%.
  • Accumulation of points- In some states, if you rack up a certain number of points on your license, it will be automatically suspended. Points are generally given for speeding, running red lights, etc.
  • Failure to appear in court- if you’re supposed to show up for a court date related to a traffic violation and don’t, your license could be revoked.
  • Failure to pay fines-If you don’t pay the fines associated with your traffic violations, your license could be taken away.
  • Hit and run- If you’re involved in an accident and leave the scene without exchanging information or helping the other driver, your license could be revoked.

Possible consequences of driving with a revoked license

Any person driving on a revoked or suspended license risks getting into legal trouble. The consequences can range from having your car impounded to going to jail. Some of the potential consequences you face if caught driving on a revoked or suspended license include:


The fine will depend on your state and how many times you’ve been caught driving on a suspended license. In most cases, the penalty is proportional to the number of previous offenses. For example, a first-time offender in California can be fined up to $1,000, while a third-time offender can be fined up to $3,000.

Jail time

In some states, driving with a suspended or revoked license is a felony. In contrast, in others it is only a misdemeanor. However, even if it is only a misdemeanor, you can still be sentenced to up to a year in jail. This can potentially occur if you have a car accident with a revoked license. In this case, you need a good car accident lawyer to defend you and help you avoid jail time. A lawyer can also help you get your license reinstated.

Car impoundment

In some states, your car can be impounded if you’re caught driving on a suspended or revoked license. This means that the police will take your car, and you will have to pay to get it back. The fees for getting your car out of impound can range from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars, depending on the state and the length of time your vehicle was impounded.

Reinstating your License

man holding his drivers license

Once your license is suspended or revoked, you must go through a process to get it reinstated. The process can vary from state to state. Generally, this is how it goes:

Serve your suspension/revocation period

This is the amount of time your license is suspended or revoked for. Generally, the longer your license is suspended, the greater the penalties will be for driving on a suspended license.

Pay a reinstatement fee

You have to pay this fee to get your license reinstated. The amount of the cost will depend on the state and the reason your license was suspended. For example, in California, the fee for a DUI-related suspension is $125, while the fee for an accumulation of points is $55.

Provide proof of insurance

To have your license reinstated, you will need to show that you have car insurance. This part is crucial because if caught driving without insurance, your license can be suspended again.

Enroll in or complete a driver’s education course

Depending on the state, you may be required to take a driver’s education course before your license is reinstated. This is a good idea even if it’s unnecessary because it will show the court that you’re taking steps to become a safer driver.

Take and pass a driving test

In some states, you will need to take and pass a driving test to get your license back. This may be required if your license is suspended due to a DUI.

Final thoughts

Remember that a driver’s license is a privilege, not a right. If you violate the terms of your license, you will face the consequences. The best way to avoid these consequences is to obey the law and drive safely.

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