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Suspended License Information for California
While some motorists regard driving as a basic right, the fact is that operating a motor vehicle is a privilege that must be earned and maintained by demonstrating safe and lawful driving. Under certain circumstances, an individual's California driver's license may be suspended or revoked for a specific length of time, depending on the person's driving record or history, and the particular violation(s).
REASONS FOR DRIVER'S LICENSE SUSPENSIONS
There are a variety of reasons why your California driver's license might be suspended. Some of these are related to specific driving violations, while others may be due to violation of other State laws. Following are some of the most common reasons for a California driver's license to be suspended or revoked.
- Excessive Moving Violations. The state of California operates on a point system, in which drivers accumulate points on their license for every moving violation they commit. If you accumulate 4 points in a year or six points in 2 years or 8 points in 3 years, your license will be suspended. If you accumulate too many points, you will be put on driving probation for a year and your license may also be suspended or revoked.
- The Negligent Operator Treatment System Program (NOTS). Drivers in California who are 18 years and older are affected by this program. This program is based on a series of negligent operator points which are added to your driving license over a specific period of time. Warning letters will be issued to you for the same. More information on this program can be found here.
- Driving Under the Influence. Your California driver's license will be suspended if you are found guilty of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. The length of the suspension depends on the severity of the violation and whether it is a first or repeat offense. A first time offense (if you are over 21 years and you took a chemical test and the result was 0.08% body alcohol content) will see your license being suspended for four months. A second offense for the same within 10 years will result in suspension for a year. If you are under 21 years of age and you took a chemical test and the result was 0.01% BAC or more, your license will be suspended for a year.
- Refusal of a Drug/ Alcohol Test or a Failed Test. If you refuse to take a blood or alcohol or urine test, you can get your license suspended or revoked.
- Driving with a Suspended License or no License. Driving with a suspended license will lead to an increase in the length of the suspension, and you may also be imprisoned for up to five years. The duration of the additional suspension varies depending on the reason for the underlying suspension. Your driver's license may also be suspended if you do not have your license with you while you are driving.
- Driving without Insurance. All motor vehicles driven in California must be properly insured. Failure to provide proof of valid auto insurance can result in your license being suspended. Your license will be suspended for four years if you are found to be driving without insurance. It may be returned to you after the first year, if you submit the proof of insurance to the DMV. You will need to ensure that you continue the insurance fro the next three years as well.
- Other Driving-Related Violations. Your California driver's license may also be suspended if you engage in reckless driving, are found to be at fault in a fatal accident, or if you abandon your vehicle on a public highway. If you fail to report an accident within 10 days and where another person was injured or killed, or if incurred damages exceeded $750, you are liable to have your license suspended. You will need to file a "Report of Traffic Accident" for this.
- Physical or Psychological Disqualification. The DMV's Chief Administrator can order a re-examination of any person who may not be fit to drive. An individual's driving privileges may be suspended if the re-examination finds they are physically or psychologically unable to drive safely.
- Medical Conditions. If you suffer from a loss of consciousness, poor judgment, poor vision, lack of agility or decreased alertness, you may face a license suspension. For more information on this, check here.
- Vandalism. If you are found guilty of vandalism, your license can be suspended for a year. If you are not old enough to drive, your right to apply for a driver's license can be delayed by a year.
- Non-Driving Reasons for License Suspension. A variety of non-driving violations or issues can result in your license being suspended. These include: not responding to a DMV notice or not appearing in court; failing to pay traffic tickets, fines or surcharges; and not paying child support. If you default on your child support payments, your license can be suspended. In this case you will be given a temporary license for 150 days. You will need to contact the Department of Child Services (DCSS) about this.
WHAT TO DO IF YOUR CALIFORNIA DRIVER'S LICENSE IS SUSPENDED
Having your California driver's license suspended is a serious matter and it is essential to adhere to State law in the event that your license is suspended. The three most important things to be aware of following a license suspension are:
- If your license has not already been taken away from you in court, you must surrender it to the California Department of Motor Vehicles. You can surrender your license in person at a DMV office, or mail it to:
Driver License Inquires
Department of Motor Vehicles
P.O. Box 942890
Sacramento, CA 94290-0001
- While your license is suspended, you are not permitted to drive. If you are found driving with a suspended license, you may be imprisoned for up to five years, and/or the length of your suspension may be increased.
- After your suspension is over, you will receive a written notice of restoration, with instructions on how to restore your license. Do not drive until you have completed the necessary steps and received a valid, replacement license from the California DMV.
- You can also apply for a restricted license in person or at a local DMV office. Depending on your circumstances you may be allowed to drive (only) to work and back.
APPEALING A SUSPENSION
If you receive a Notice of Scheduled Suspension from the DMV, and you wish to challenge the suspension, you may request a hearing in court. An administrative law judge or the DMV Chief Administrator will hear your case, and determine whether your driver's license should be suspended or not. In addition, drivers whose license may be suspended due to accumulating excessive points may be eligible to enroll in a Driver Improvement Program. Completing a Driver Improvement Program removes three points from the current driving record, and in some cases can enable an individual to avoid having his license suspended.
RESTORING YOUR LICENSE
You will receive a Notice of Restoration from the DMV after you have completed your suspension period. The notice will include complete instructions regarding how to get your license back. Generally, you will need to:
- A reissue fee is a fee paid to reinstate a driving privilege which has been suspended or revoked. The following is a list of reissue fees:
$15 to add a court restriction
$20 to remove a Driver License restriction
$24 drug suspension
$55 reissue fee (the most common type of reissue fee)
$100 Preliminary Alcohol Screening (PAS)
$100 Admin Per Se (APS)
$85 APS (partial payment of the $100 APS fee)
$45 APS (partial payment of the $100 APS fee)
- Apply for a standard license renewal to obtain a new license.
- If your license was suspended due to negligent operator points you will have to:
- Pay a reissue fee to the DMV and also pay fines to the court.
- Show proof of auto insurance.
- Complete the negligent operator probation period successfully - i.e. without violating any traffic rules or being involved in an accident.
- If your license was suspended due to DUI:
- You will have to complete the mandatory probation period.
- Pay the reissue fee to the DMV.
- Show proof of auto insurance (California Insurance Proof Certificate, SR-22).
- Complete a DUI Treatment Program and file a Notice of Completion Certificate (DL 101).
- Pay the required court fines.
- A restricted license may be issued to you during your probation period if certain reinstatement requirements are met.
- If your license was suspended due to a medical condition:
- You will have to provide a satisfactory Driver Medical Evaluation (DS 326) and other information stating that the condition no longer exists and you are able to drive the vehicle.
- If your license was suspended because you failed to pay a traffic violation (FTP) or appear in court (FTC), you need to:
- Pay your fines or appear in court.
- Pay the reissue fee to the DMV.
Note that after your license is restored, you will be subject to a Mandatory Probation Period of one year, during which any new violations may result in an additional suspension of your California driver's license.