Note that drivers who have a suspended license and do not reinstate it cannot legally drive. If they do drive, a police officer can pull the driver over and charge him/her with the misdemeanor crime of driving on a suspended license. Penalties can include:
jail time, and/or
up to $1,000 in fines.
Note, too, that a driver’s license revocation is not the same thing as a suspended driver’s license. A revocation means that the DMV or a court has terminated a person’s driving privileges. Drivers subject to a revoked license cannot reinstate it, but rather must apply for a new license.
1. What are the requirements to get a suspended license back in the State of California?
The first step in getting a California license back after a suspension is for the affected driver to wait through the suspension duration.1
Once this period of time ends, a driver has to apply for reinstatement. Reinstatement is not automatic. Drivers must file a reinstatement application with the California DMV or a local DMV office.
Note that the reinstatement process is not the same for everyone. An application will differ for certain drivers depending on the reason their license was suspended.
With that said, there are several common requirements in many reinstatement applications. These include:
paying a licensereinstatement fee (or a reissue fee which generally ranges from $100 to $150),
Prior to beginning the reinstatement process, drivers should check their license suspension order. The order will inform the driver of any special requirements that he/she needs to fulfill for reinstatement.
2. What are some common reasons for a California driver’s license suspension?
There are several reasons why the DMV or the courts may suspend a motorist’s driving privileges. Some of the most common include:
criminal traffic violations, like DUI/DWI or reckless driving,
an accumulation of points on the driver’s record from minor traffic citations (also known as a negligent operator suspension),
failure to pay child support, or
medical conditions that make it unsafe to drive, like dementia or a lapse of consciousness.
As stated above, the specific reason for a suspension will determine how long the suspension will last. It will also determine what the driver has to do to get his/her license reinstated.
3. What happens if a person does not apply for reinstatement?
Drivers who have a suspended license and do not reinstate it cannotlegally drive.
If they do drive, they can get pulled over and charged with the crime of driving on a suspended license. This is true, even if the suspension period has expired.4
Driving on a suspended license is a misdemeanor. The penalties for a conviction are:
up to 3 years of informal probation, and
up to $1,000 in fines.
4. Is a license suspension the same as a revocation?
No. In California, a driver’s license revocation (sometimes called a cancellation) means that the DMV or a court has terminated a person’s driving privileges.5
Drivers subject to a revoked license cannot reinstate it or restore the license. Instead, they have to apply for a new license.
A driver’s license can be revoked for several reasons, including if the driver:
committed a crime,
has a physical or mental disorder,
committed road rage,
refused to take a chemical test after being stopped for DUI,6 or
committed auto insurance fraud while applying for his or her driver’s license.
road driving test with an instructor from the DMV.
Note that the suspension period will vary for drivers depending on the reason why the license was suspended. For example, while the suspension period for a first-time DUI is six months, the suspension period for a second DUI is a one year suspension. See also AB 2746.
A former Los Angeles prosecutor, attorney Neil Shouse graduated with honors from UC Berkeley and Harvard Law School (and completed additional graduate studies at MIT). He has been featured on CNN, Good Morning America, Dr Phil, The Today Show and Court TV. Mr Shouse has been recognized by the National Trial Lawyers as one of the Top 100 Criminal and Top 100 Civil Attorneys.