Suspended vs Revoked License: What's the Difference?

Do you have a Suspended or a Revoked Driver's License?Counting down the days until you can legally drive again? Wondering about the conditions of your infraction?

Driving with a suspended or revoked driver's license subjects you to hefty fines, jail time, or maybe even both. Your license can be suspended for anything from unpaid parking tickets to DUIs, and in some states, can even be taken away for failure to pay child support.

Learning the difference between the two is key to knowing what actions you need to take. Don't give up hope if your license has been suspended, which can be reinstated after paying fines or meeting other conditions. However, revocation entails a larger amount of work.

How Can This Happen?

A license can be suspended or revoked for several reasons. These are some of the main conditions which put you in the red zone:

  • medical condition which makes you a danger on the road
  • Too many points on your license (speeding tickets, traffic violations)
  • Getting a DUI or DWI
  • Not paying child support
  • Failure to appear in court or pay court fines/fees

It makes sense; after all, driving is a privilege, not a right. If you misbehave, you lose your privilege.

Ensure that suspension or revocation doesn't happen to you by paying all bills on time, obeying traffic laws, not drinking and driving, and other good driving behavior. It will be rewarded with your ability to be out on the open road.

However, we're all human, and things happen. Let's talk about what happens if one of these things does occur.

Suspended Driver's License

The terms of a suspension are minimal in comparison to a revoked driver's license. It mostly includes a little bit of waiting and a little bit of money.

If you have both of those resources, you have a good shot at a license reinstatement.

There are two main types of suspensions:

  • Definite: lasts a specific amount of time and requires a suspension reinstatement fee.
  • Indefinite: can be reversed when proper action, such as paying a ticket, is taken

Although not good, a suspension isn't life-ending. Secure a means of transportation in the meantime and be diligent with paying bills and taking the proper action. Once you've done this, the suspension can be lifted or will terminate at the reinstatement date.

In addition to taking time off from driving, you may have to enroll in a driving school, get an SR22 (guarantee/proof of car insurance) from your insurance provider, and most likely pay reinstatement fees.

Keep in mind that although it's not as permanent as a revoked license, you cannot drive with a suspended license unless approved for a permit through an informal hearing with the Secretary of State.

Revoked Driver's License

So, you're a repeat offender and had your license revoked. Multiple offenses, driving without insurance, DUIs or making false statements on a driver's license can all land you in this position. Revocation occurs when someone has become enough of a liability that the DMV considers them unfit for the road.

We understand how this affects your life in many ways, from your job to your family life, and everything in between. It requires a lot of adjusting and a lot of work since this is a permanent situation unless something is done to change it.

Can you reinstate a Revoked License?

In order to have your revoked license reinstated, you'll need to prove yourself through an application to your Secretary of State and have ether an Informal Hearing or Formal Hearing. 

Here are some requirements for reinstatement:

  • Reinstatement fees
  • Proof of insurance
  • Proof of ignition interlock device (for cases such as DUI)
  • Proof of completion of driving school, and/or alcohol/substance abuse course
  • Pass an entirely new driver's test
  • Resolve any and all criminal charges

Special Cases: Hardship License

For those with a revoked driver's license it may take a two step process to get fully reinstated.

People can apply for a hardship license in certain circumstances. This is a step towards getting yourself fully reinstated.

With documentation and/or proof, you can apply for a hardship license for these reasons:

  • Drive to and from school, or to and from work
  • Need to drive to medical appointments for yourself
  • Needing to care for a loved one with a medical condition
  • Hardship licenses still come with limitations.  Etc.

Getting Legally Back on the Road 

Don’t drive while you're going through either a suspension of revocation. The problem that you have is enough hassle without more fines or a potential jail stay.

Regardless of why you lost your driver's license, knowing the conditions of it is important for every driver. It's key for taking appropriate action and getting back to a driving legally.

Suspended and revoked driver's licenses alike are difficult to go through, but both have potential to be reinstated. In the meantime, practice legal safety through alternative transportation methods, and be patient. It takes time to reinstate, but it'll be worth the wait.

Don't spend too much time looking for answers which could be conflicting or inconsistent. If you have any questions or would like to request more legal advice, consult the experts for an informed conversation about having your license reinstated.