I’m a Driver with a Suspended License. What Do I Do Now?

Every year, the average American spends 17,600 minutes driving. In that massive amount of time, it’s easy to accumulate enough traffic violations to get a suspended license.

You could even have your license suspended with a perfect driving record if you fail to pay child support.

Whatever the reason may be, you find yourself with a suspended license but still needing to get to work and go about your life. These should be your next steps.

1. Get the Details

The first step toward getting your license back is finding out why it’s been suspended in the first place. The suspension may be easier to lift than you think, so don’t panic.

You should receive a suspension notice that tells you your license is suspended and explains why. It may be a collection of small traffic offenses, one larger offense like driving under the influence, or nonpayment for fines or child support.

Make sure you read the notice thoroughly and understand all the reasons listed.

If you have questions, your notice should have a phone number for you to call for more information.

2. Get a List of Steps for Reinstatement

Depending on why your license is suspended, you may have a court date or you may need to visit your state’s Department of Motor Vehicles. Your suspension notice may also list what you need to do for your license to be reinstated.

There is no standard set of reinstatement requirements. It depends on your state, the reasons for your suspension, and your past record.

Many drivers get confused when they see that their license is suspended for a certain period of time. This doesn’t mean that after that period of time, your license is automatically reinstated.

You’ll often have other steps to take during that time period. Even if you don’t, many states require you to apply for reinstatement when your suspension period is over.

Most Common Steps for Getting a Suspended License Reinstated

While every case is unique, there are certain reinstatement requirements that are more common than others. Here’s a look into what you may need to do to get your license back.

Filing an SR-22 Form

An SR-22 is sometimes called a Certificate of Financial Responsibility. You can learn more about the details but in general, it’s a form your car insurance company sends to the state.

This form verifies to the state that you have valid insurance. While most drivers don’t need to prove their insurance coverage unless they’re pulled over, an SR-22 allows the state to keep a closer eye on you.

This requirement is common if your license is suspended for driving without insurance. You may also need it if you have a large number of traffic violations. In that case, the state sees you as a high risk for accidents and needs to make sure you have the insurance to cover damages.

If you need an SR-22, call your auto insurance company. They’ll handle the process on their end, but they’ll probably charge you a processing fee.

Taking Specified Courses

To make sure you’re safe to drive, the state may require you to take some courses depending on the reason your license was suspended.

If you have too many traffic violations, you may need to attend a driving course. While it isn’t likely to be as extensive as the driver education class you took before you received your license, every state has its own course.

If the state suspended your license for driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, this will have an impact too. The court may require you to attend treatment or classes for substance abuse.

You may be able to choose from a few different courses, but make sure your chosen one will meet your requirement before you commit. Keep in mind that you’ll also need to pay for these courses out of your pocket.

Paying Previous Fees

Sometimes the state suspends your license due to nonpayment. You may have unpaid fees from past traffic violations or you may be behind on child support payments.

In these cases, you’ll probably need to pay all or part of the money you owe to get your license back. Some states will allow you to pay a percentage of the money and get onto a payment plan for the remainder.

Paying a Reinstatement Fee

This one tends to take drivers by surprise. After you’ve fulfilled all your requirements, you’ll need to file for reinstatement and pay a fee.

You’ll pay this fee regardless of the reason for your suspension or how much you’ve paid toward other money you owe. That reinstatement fee covers the state’s cost for processing your suspension.

3. Consider Filing an Exception

It feels like a cruel irony to have your license suspended for nonpayment when your only way to get to work and earn the money you need is to drive there. Thankfully, the state realizes this.

In some cases, you can get an exception. If you don’t have other reliable transportation options, the state may allow you to drive to and from work but nowhere else.

To get an exception, you or your lawyer will need to file a motion with the court. You’ll likely need to attend a hearing to explain why you need the exception, and the judge may or may not grant your request.

4. Stay Off the Roads

This sounds like an obvious step, but never choose to “risk it” and drive with a suspended license. If you get caught, it will make it far more difficult to get your license back.

After a certain point, the state may even permanently revoke your license.

If you aren’t able to get an exception to drive to work, you probably have more options than you think. Use public transit, carpool with co-workers, use rideshare services, or ride a bike.

Getting Back Behind the Wheel

It’s easy to break down and panic when you get a suspension notice in the mail. In reality, getting your suspended license back make be more manageable than you realize. The tips above will help you begin.

Throughout the process, remember that you aren’t alone. Plenty of celebrities have been in your shoes too. For proof, read up on the celebs that have dealt with license suspensions and other financial issues in other articles on our blog.

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