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 Louisiana 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 Louisiana 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 Louisiana driver's license to be suspended or revoked.
- Excessive Moving Violations. The state of Louisiana does not operate on a point system. Instead they use the Problem Driver Pointer System to keep a track of traffic violations/suspension/revocations/cancellations, from other states as well. Your license will be suspended for excessive violations.
- Driving Under the Influence. Your Louisiana 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. If you are 21 years of age, and have blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.02% or more, you will be charged with DUI. If you are 21 and above, a BAC of 0.08% will get you convicted of a DUI. A first time offense will result in your license being suspended for 90 days, a second, for 12 months, third and fourth offenses for 24 months. In addition to this you might have to serve time in jail and also participate in an alcohol treatment program. Refusal to take a chemical test is also a reason for license suspension.
- 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. You may also be arrested if you are caught driving without a license.
- Driving without Insurance. All motor vehicles driven in Louisiana must be properly insured. Failure to provide proof of valid auto insurance can result in your license being suspended.
- Other Driving-Related Violations. Your Louisiana 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. Other reasons include not stopping for a school bus where passengers are getting on or of, using a motor vehicle to commit a crime, vehicular homicide or manslaughter, fleeing the scene of an accident and not giving aid, out of state convictions and being charged with reckless driving three times in one year, hit and run driving and fleeing from a police officer.
- Physical or Psychological Disqualification. The Office of Motor Vehicles 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.
- 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 an Office of Motor Vehicles notice or not appearing in court; failing to pay traffic tickets, fines or surcharges; and not paying child support. Other reasons include unlawful use of your license, illegally changing the information on your license, making false/incorrect statements while applying for a license or leaving out information altogether.
WHAT TO DO IF YOUR LOUISIANA DRIVER'S LICENSE IS SUSPENDED
Having your Louisiana 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. If you believe your license may be suspended due to one of the reasons listed above it is advisable to speak with a traffic ticket lawyer or a DUI-DWI lawyer.
The 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 Louisiana Office of Motor Vehicles. You can surrender your license in person at a Motor Vehicles Reinstatement office, or mail it to:
Office of Motor Vehicles
P. O. Box 64886
Baton Rouge, LA 70896
- 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 Louisiana OMV.
- You will have to contact a Motor Vehicles Reinstatement office, to find out if you are eligible for a hardship license. ==APPEALING A SUSPENSION==
If you receive a notice of suspension from the OMV, and you wish to challenge the suspension, you may request a hearing in court. If you were suspended due to DUI, you can apply for a hearing within 15 days, for all other suspensions you can apply in 30 days. An administrative law judge or the OMV 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 excessive violations may be eligible to enroll in a Driver Improvement Program.
It is also a good idea to seek the advice of a traffic ticket lawyer or a DUI-DWI lawyer, based on the reason for the suspension.
RESTORING YOUR LICENSE
You will receive a notice from the OMV 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:
- Pay the restoration fee. The fee can be paid in person (using cash, a money order, cashiers check or certified check) at a Motor Vehicles Reinstatement office. You can also mail a check or money order or cashier's check payable to:
Office of Motor Vehicles
P. O. Box 64886
Baton Rouge, LA 70896
- Apply for a standard license renewal to obtain a new license.
Note that after your license is restored, you may be subject to a probation period during which any new violations may result in an additional suspension of your Louisiana driver's license.