Virginia Driver’s License Suspensions:
Can My Driver’s License Be Taken From Me?

Mikhail N. Lopez
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Criminal Defense and General Civil Litigation Attorney

Fairfax Criminal Lawyer Misha Lopez discusses Virginia driver’s license suspensions, revealing why and for how long your driver’s license may be suspended.

A Virginia driver’s license is a privilege – not a right – that many Virginians rely on every day to get to and from work, pick up kids, make visits to a doctor, and much more.  Because driving is a privilege, an individual can lose their license for a number of reasons.

Some of the most common reasons for losing a driver’s license include:

  • not paying court costs and fines within a specified period of time
  • being convicted of certain offenses (e.g., Driving While Intoxicated, 1st or 2nd offense, driving on a suspended license)
  • accumulating too many points on your license as a result of minor or major moving violations.

In many of these cases, the courts or Virginia’s Department of Motor Vehicles may suspend your license. If you are convicted of driving on suspended driver’s license you may very well receive a jail sentence to serve, substantial fine, and lengthy additional license suspensions.

Virginia Driver’s License Suspensions Can Last Different Lengths of Time

A driver’s license can be suspended for varying amounts of time, depending on why it was suspended in the first place.

  • Failure to pay court costs or fines – driver’s license suspension will stay in effect until payment is made in full or a payment plan is authorized by the court.
  • Conviction for DWI, 1st offense – the court must suspend the driver’s license for one year, no more and no less.
  • Subsequent DWI convictions – carry much longer driver’s license suspensions, and can even lead to license revocation.
  • Other traffic convictions, such as hit and run and reckless driving – can result in driver’s license suspension as punishment. In those cases, the court would impose the period of suspension after considering the offense conduct and the individual’s driving record, among other relevant factors.

Fortunately, driver’s license suspensions do not cause the permanent loss of driving privileges; rather, it’s merely a suspension of the ability to drive for a period of time.

After the period of suspension passes, the driver’s license will be reinstated upon payment of a fee and satisfaction of any other conditions that may exist.  Individuals with suspended licenses can check the requirements for restoring their license by requesting a “compliance summary” from the DMV – either online or in person – for free.  Additionally, depending on the circumstances of the suspension, it may also be possible to request a restricted driver’s license, which would allow the suspended individual to drive to and from certain, but not all, places.

If your driver’s license has been suspended, do not drive. It is vital to make sure your case is presented fully and accurately to a judge so they may make the proper determination, and if there is a mistake by the DMV, to ensure that it is corrected you drive.

A Step Beyond Virginia Driver’s License Suspensions – Revocations

Fairfax Virginia Courthouse signWhile suspensions carry serious consequences, revocations are even more far reaching.  A driver’s license revocation differs from a suspension in that the revoked license is completely gone.  Anyone seeking restoration of a revoked license will need to:

  • retake the written driving exam
  • reapply for a new license
  • pay any corresponding fees
  • meet other conditions, which will vary depending on the basis for the revocation

The most common reasons for driver’s license revocations are:

  • third or subsequent DWI convictions – it is required by law that any person convicted of three or more DWIs lose their license indefinitely
  • involuntary vehicular manslaughter – indefinite driver’s license revocation
  • vehicular maiming – indefinite driver’s license revocation.

Restoring & Protecting Your Driving Privileges

Under such circumstances, the revoked driver’s license cannot be restored unless the individual files a formal petition with the proper Virginia circuit court.  Furthermore, the individual must undergo evaluations through the Alcohol Safety Action Program and explain to the court during a hearing why their license should be restored, even if they meet the factors set out by the law.

Similarly, a person may have had their driver’s license indefinitely revoked under the Habitual Offender statute.  That statute affected a number of individuals prior to July 1, 1999.  There are special procedures for filing a restoration petition based on this form of revocation, which differs slightly from the revocations for 3rd or greater DWIs and other serious driving offenses.  Fortunately, however, the Habitual Offender statute has been removed and no longer impacts Virginia drivers for offenses occurring after July 1, 1999.

If your driver’s license has been revoked, it is vital to make sure your case is presented fully and accurately to a judge so they may make the proper determination.  If your driver’s license is suspended or revoked, do not drive, as you are then exposed to a jail sentence, large fine, and lengthy additional license suspensions. Call a trusted Fairfax, VA attorney at Greenspun Shapiro PC today. We routinely assist with all traffic and driver’s license revocation matters.