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  • By: Kevin Leckerman, Esq.
  • Published: May 2, 2011
A man holding a paper of license suspension sign - Leckerman Law, LLC

What is a Suspended License?

Most US states view driving as a privilege. This is contrary to the belief held by many Americans that driving is an inviolable right that cannot be taken away from them, much like the right to bear arms. In fact, the Department of Transportation (DOT) or Motor Vehicle Commission (MVC) may suspend your license – that is, temporarily or indefinitely take away your driving privileges – for any of the below reasons, which may come as surprise to many:

  • Refusal to submit to a field sobriety test or other chemical test such as blood, breath or urine, to detect a person driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
  • Driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, whether legal, illegal, proscription or over the counter.
  • Failure to pay civil penalties for traffic violations, moving violations, or speeding tickets
  • Being at fault in an accident that causes injury or death to another person.
  • Reckless driving or speeding
  • Violating traffic laws so often that the state considers you to have “disrespect for traffic laws and a disregard for the safety of other persons.” – a.k.a. a “habitual offender”

If your license has been suspended, it will not be reinstated until you have satisfied the conditions for reinstatement imposed by a judge or department of transportation – such as, paying off tickets and fines, attending defensive driving school, or submitting to sight and hearing tests. If your license has been suspended due to refusal to submit to a breath, blood or urine test for blood for alcohol or drugs following a DUI arrest, then you will have to wait for the mandatory imposed suspension time to pass before your license can be reinstated. This period is normally 1 year to 18 months in Pennsylvania and 7 months to 10 years in New Jersey.

What is a Revoked License?

A suspended license is one that can at some point be reinstated provided the licensee satisfies the conditions imposed by the court and the Department of Transportation (DOT).

A revoked license is a permanent confiscation of an individual’s driving privilege – meaning they can never legally drive in that state (or any states with reciprocal driving law agreements) again. This punishment is typically reserved for those who have repeatedly violated driving and traffic laws. Whether your license is suspended or revoked depends on your particular driving record and severity of the offenses you have committed.

How Do I Know if My License has been Suspended or Revoked?

1. Notice by Certified or Registered Mail

You will receive notification by mail if your license has been suspended or revoked.

2. MVC Office

You can request a copy of your driving record in person or by mail and any outstanding license issues from your local PennDOT or New Jersey MVC office. They will also be able to provide you with the contact information for the county court responsible for suspending and reinstating your license.

3. Online – over the internet by email

There are a number of web sites which allow you to check your driving record and license status online although they normally charge a fee of around $5 to $40. The records these sites provide are also “uncertified” and therefore be inaccurate as opposed to an official one you would get from the MVC, which is also not free.

How do I Reinstate a Suspended or Revoked License?

In Pennsylvania and New Jersey, drivers sometimes have the right to dispute suspended or revoked licenses. Some offenses carry a mandatory suspension or revocation and cannot be challenged. In most cases however, the state must hold a hearing at the request of a driver whose license has been suspended.

After the facts of the case have been presented to the judge or hearing officer, the officer will decide whether to uphold the suspension, reinstate the license or reduce the sentence. Given this, it is highly advisable to consult with an attorney and possibly retain their services to help you overturn the suspension if he or she believes your case has merit.

Your attorney should also be adept at negotiating payment terms for the large fines that you will likely have incurred as a result of any of the above violations.

Reinstatement Fee

You will also have to pay a license reinstatement fee, which can be as much as $200.

Hiring a DUI Attorney

It is certainly advisable to consult with a DUI lawyer before attending any type of hearing and to find out whether you are more likely to have your license suspended or revoked. Courts and judges can be extremely intimidating, especially if this is the first time you have had to attend court. Therefore, retaining the services of a professional attorney can not only increase your chances of saving your license, but can make the entire process less intimidating.

Please contact Leckerman Law for more information.

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