What Restrictions Come With a Suspended License?
If you live in any of Virginia’s bustling cities, you know how essential a car is to your day-to-day life. Virginia’s roads are only as effective as its drivers, though. That’s why Virginia encourages drivers to abide by the state’s roadway laws. When drivers look out for one another, everyone on the road can stay safe.
In that same vein, Virginia law enforcement may be quick to suspend the license of someone believed to have violated roadway laws. If you’ve lost access to your driving privileges, you need to know what you are and aren’t allowed to do with your car. While some circumstances allow you to challenge the restrictions on your license, others require more time to address.
What Is a Suspended License?
A suspended driver’s license is a punishment the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) can impose on a driver who violates roadway law and endangers other drivers. This suspension will see a driver temporarily forgo their ability to legally drive on Virginia’s roads.
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Why does Virginia Suspend Its Drivers’ Licenses?
Virginia can suspend its drivers’ licenses for a wide variety of reasons, many of which hinge on state-wide roadway safety. If you’re charged with a DUI or a vehicular felony, there’s a chance that you may lose your license for between six months and a year. The state may also suspend your license if you:
- Drive without insurance
- Earn too many points on your license
- Fail to pay fees due to Virginia courts
If you’re caught driving on a suspended license, Virginia courts may extend the amount of time for which you’re not allowed to be on the road. You need to be diligent about challenging these charges when they’re brought against you if you want to avoid incurring more severe consequences, like a license revocation or jail time.
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How Does Virginia Restrict a Suspended License?
The primary restriction that comes with a suspended license is the inability to drive. It is against the law for someone with a suspended or revoked license to operate a motor vehicle in Virginia. However, there may be instances in which you can petition for restricted driving privileges.
If you want to request the restoration of some of your driving privileges, you can take your concerns either to the DMV or to a Virginia court. You may regain the limited ability to drive on the road if you were convicted of reckless driving, speeding, illegal possession or consumption of alcohol, or driving under the influence for the first time.
More severe offenses, including your 3rd DUI or maiming someone while driving under the influence, require wait time. You can request limited driving privileges for these offenses – and manslaughter, voluntary or involuntary – three years after your conviction. You can learn more about these limitations through the Virginia DMV’s website.
Requesting Driving Privileges for Commercial Vehicles
Note that you may not petition for the right to drive a commercial vehicle while your license is suspended. If you need to use your vehicle for work with a rideshare or delivery service, you can meet with an attorney to discuss the logistics of your vehicular use.
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What Are the Penalties for Driving on a Suspended License?
The consequences for driving on a suspended license are similar to those that someone caught driving on a revoked license may face. Virginia Code §46.2-301 notes that if you’re caught on the road without the proper documentation, you may spend a year in jail. You may also have to pay fines of up to $2,500.
These consequences grow more severe if you’re caught more than twice. If you’re charged with driving on a suspended license a third time, your license may be revoked. Under some circumstances, Virginia may seize your vehicle and impound it until you restore your right to drive.
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What’s the Difference Between a Suspended License and a Revoked License?
If you’re convicted of a roadway violation, Virginia courts can choose to either suspend your license or revoke it. If you have a suspended license, you’ve temporarily lost the right to drive on the road. Comparatively, license revocation completely denies you the right to drive on Virginian roadways.
The state may revoke your license if you’re charged and convicted of:
- Driving on a suspended license after a felony charge
- Inappropriately procuring a driver’s license
- Driving away from the scene of an accident
- Voluntary or involuntary manslaughter
If you’re caught driving on a revoked license, you may face fines of up to $2,500 and jail time of up to 12 months. Your consequences may compound depending on the other circumstances contributing to your initial revocation. Fortunately, you can work with a criminal traffic lawyer to either petition for reduced charges or apply for a new license.
What Happens If You Cause an Accident While Driving on a Suspended License?
Driving with a suspended license is already a violation of the law in Virginia. If you negligently or recklessly cause a car accident while driving with a suspended license, the penalties can be severe.
For example, what would have been a misdemeanor crime, such as a charge for reckless driving, could escalate to a felony if you had a suspended or revoked license at the time of causing the car accident.
As the driver that caused the accident, you could also face civil liability for the victim’s damages. You may have to pay the victim for his or her medical bills, vehicle damages, lost income, and other losses for negligently or recklessly causing the wreck.
What Consequences Do Uninsured, Unlicensed Drivers Face After Car Accidents?
If you were driving with a suspended license and also without insurance, the penalties from your standard collision will compound. Depending on the severity of your accident, you may be expected to pay all of a victim’s losses out of pocket. The state may also revoke your license.
If you don’t have insurance or a license at the time of an accident, reach out to a driving on a suspended license lawyer as soon as you can. While you can try to defend yourself, you may end up saying something to law enforcement that makes your circumstances all the worse. A professional can instead argue to reduce or overturn the charges brought against you.
How Can You Reinstate a Suspended License?
You cannot reinstate a revoked license without requesting new permission to drive on the road. You can, however, go through certain steps to restore a suspended license. If you want to reinstate your suspended license, you can:
- Wait through your suspension period
- Pay your affiliated traffic ticket
- Pay any unpaid child support or taxes, as applicable
- Pay your suspension termination fee
- Complete a driver improvement clinic
Note that anyone who wants to contest an indefinite license suspension may have to perform certain tasks as dictated by Virginia’s legal system. For more information about the tasks you may have uncompleted, you can contact your local DMV or county clerk. Alternatively, a criminal defense attorney can communicate with judicial officials on your behalf.
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