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The following is for informational purposes only

Driving With a Suspended or Revoked License

Driving While License Suspended: An Overview

Driving While License Suspended (DWLS) criminal records are always related to a driver’s license that has been suspended for reasons including having too many penalty points, a DUI conviction, drug crimes, unpaid traffic ticket(s) or child support, and any type of “forbidden” driving that violates the terms of a restricted license.

The difference between license “Suspension” and license “Revocation” is that a revoked license can’t be restored until the offender has a Hearing before a Secretary of State’s Driver Assessment and Appeal Division (DAAD) and receives approval for Restoration of Driving Privileges.


How to Get a Suspended License Reinstated

Reinstating a Suspended License

Two scenarios can happen in case of having a Suspended License:

  • It could get reinstated as soon as a certain event takes place – most of the time it’s related to paying an amount of money, for instance paying all outstanding tickets, late fees, reinstatement fees, or associated costs;
  • It could get reinstated after a certain period of time, given the fact that a suspension is usually registered under a “From-To” period, for example: “License Suspended from May 3, 2019, until May 3, 2020.”

Classifying DWLS Convictions

Depending on the reason for the suspension, the circumstances, and the number of past convictions, which can be found in a criminal record check,a DWLS can be classified as a:

  • Non-criminal Traffic Offense – for first-time offenders who weren’t aware of the suspension. In states like Florida, it’s punishable with a forfeiture, a fine, or another civil penalty;
  • First-degree Misdemeanor – for second-time offenders who were aware of the suspension or for first-time offenders if they hold a commercial driver's license and are caught driving while suspended. It’s punishable by 1 year of probation, up to 1 year in jail, or a combination of the two;
  • Second-degree Misdemeanor - for first-time offenders who knew about the suspension. The punishment includes 6 months of probation and/or up-to 60 days of jail time;
  • Third-degree Felony – for third-time offenders or if someone’s been caught driving after a permanent revocation of their license or after being designated a Habitual Traffic Offender (HTO); it’s punishable by up to 5 years in prison.

Habitual Traffic Offender (HTO)

Habitual Traffic Offender

In 19 states, dangerous drivers with a long list of traffic offenses may be deemed “Habitual Traffic Offenders” (HTO). The legislation varies. For instance in Florida, a Habitual Traffic Offender is anyone who has accumulated at least 3 convictions of the following offenses within 5 years:

  • 15 convictions for moving traffic offenses that resulted in penalty points
  • Driving while license suspended or revoked (DWLS/(DWLR)
  • Operating a commercial motor vehicle while having this privilege suspended

In other states like Colorado, you’re an HTO if you accumulate three HTO “strikes” within 7 years. Also, if someone is arrested for Driving While Ability Impaired (DWAI) or driving under the influence (DUI) while being an HTO, they could be charged with a class 6 felony and prison time.

Generally speaking, when a person is labeled a Habitual Traffic Offender, the DMV suspends their driving privilege for 5 years. If they’re caught driving within this 5-year time frame, they might face a $5,000 fine and be sentenced to a maximum of 5 years in prison and/or 5 years probation.


The DWLS Impound Law

The DWLS Impound Law

The Driving While License Suspended Impound Law authorizes law enforcement officers to tow vehicles whenever they stop a suspended driver. Depending on the state, the vehicle faces a police hold for 30, 60, or 90 days. The driver might also have to pay a deposit of 50% of the towing and storage fees within 5 days of the impoundment date. Failing to do so means the car could be auctioned before the hold period ends. Some states require an additional court release and a fee to be paid before picking up the car.

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