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Driver's License Suspension Basics

If you refuse to submit to a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) test, default on your child support obligations, get too many points on your license, or commit any number of driving or non-driving offenses, you may face a driver's license suspension. But, depending on the state in which you live, you may have a few options (apart from winning your case), such as a work-restricted driver's license or, if the driver's license suspension is due to a DUI, the installation of an ignition interlock device. This article discusses some of the instances that can lead to the suspension of your driver's license, and your options when facing suspension.

What Can Lead to the Suspension of a Driver's License?

Since driving is a privilege and not a right, states have quite a bit of leverage over your ability to legally operate a car on public roads and highways. Your driver's license may be suspended for any one of the following driving-related offenses:

  • Driving under the influence (DUI)
  • Drag racing
  • Leaving the scene of an accident
  • Reckless driving
  • Road rage, which refers to the assault of another individual while driving

A driver's license can also be suspended for various non-driving violations, such as:

  • Failure to pay child support
  • Conviction for a non-DUI drug offense
  • Failure to appear in court or answer to a moving violation
  • Truancy, which is the unexcused absence from school
  • Juvenile delinquency

The offenses that can lead to a driver's license suspension vary from state to state, so it's important to check the laws of your state to find out what type of behavior can affect your ability to drive with a valid license.

Your Options When Facing Suspension

Traffic laws and penalties vary from state to state, but most jurisdictions offer a very limited number of options for some situations resulting in suspension. If it's an offense involving money owed, such as unpaid traffic tickets or child support, you can usually get your license back after paying a fine and following your state's procedures for reinstatement.

Some states allow a person who has his or her driver's license suspended because of a DUI conviction to apply for an ignition interlock program. This program involves the installation of a BAC-detecting device that allows the car to start only after the driver has proven his or her sobriety. Many states offer this after the first offense, but rules vary.

For offenses that cannot simply be corrected with your checkbook, though, you usually must wait for the specified length of time before getting your license back. One exception is to petition the court for a hardship license, which may restrict your driving to just your workday commute or trips to the doctor. You must be able to prove that a driver's license suspension would create an undue burden, such as a serious impediment to your health or livelihood. Check with your state's department of motor vehicles to learn more about applying for a hardship license.

Getting Legal Help

If you have questions about a traffic ticket or driver's license suspension, you may want to consider speaking with a traffic ticket attorney in your area.

For more information and resources related to this topic, you can visit FindLaw's section on Traffic Laws.

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