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Driver's License Laws

It's an exciting day when a person gets his or her driver's license. With a driver's license you can go to the mall, to your friends' house, and the movies, all without having to beg your parents or older siblings for a ride. While it's a great and liberating feeling, it's important to realize that having a driver's license also comes with a lot of responsibility. FindLaw's Driver's License Laws section explains the general process for obtaining a license, as well as the requirements licensed drivers have to follow. Some of the information you can find in this section includes frequently asked questions about driver's licenses and license penalties, and what could lead to the suspension or revocation of a driver's license.

How Drivers Can Lose Their License

It's important for people to realize that driving is a privilege, not a right. Because driving is inherently dangerous, states control who is given the privilege of driving. While each state has its own standards, there are some common reasons for suspending or revoking a person's driver's license. These common reasons include speeding, reckless driving, driving without proper car insurance, and driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

Many states use a point system, in which each type of traffic offense is assigned a point. When a person receives too many points within a short period of time, he or she can have his or her driver's license suspended or revoked. Some states also will suspend or revoke a person's license if he or she owes unpaid child support. If your license is revoked, you typically can reapply for a license, but there is a waiting period before you can reapply.

Driving in Other States

If you have a valid driver's license that was issued in one state, you can drive in all of the other states as well. However, if you move to another state, you'll need to get a new driver's license from that state. In order to get a new license, some states might require the person to take a driving test, while others might require a written or vision test. Moving to a new state means that you have the intent to stay in the state. A student who goes to college in a different state usually doesn't need to get a new driver's license in that state because he or she is only there to go to school. It's also important to realize that if you receive a traffic ticket in another state, it will likely affect your driving record in your own state.

Administrative License Suspension Laws

Generally speaking, people have a right to due process meaning that they can't be punished without the proper legal proceedings. These legal proceedings include notice and a hearing. However, Administrative License Suspension (ALS) laws allow a driver's license to be automatically suspended without notice or a hearing. While ALS laws are state specific, the most common example is when there is a DUI offense.

Most states have "implied consent laws" meaning that if you drive within the state you have given implied consent to submit to a breath, blood, or urine test if an officer suspects that you're driving under the influence. Refusal to submit to one of these tests after a proper traffic stop will typically result in an automatic suspension of your driver's license. Please note that automatic suspension will occur whether or not you were in fact under the influence. If you do submit chemical testing for a DUI, and your blood alcohol level is above the legal limit, or you have certain drugs in your system, most states will automatically suspend your license. Your driver's license can be suspended anywhere from several days to years depending on the specific laws of your state.

Learn About Driver's License Laws