Q. Suppose the police stop me and I've forgotten my license at home?
A. Driving a motor vehicle on a public street or highway without
a license is an offense in
most states. Often, a person accused of failing to have a license in his
or her possession
can avoid conviction if able to produce a license in court that was valid
at the time of the
Q. What is the difference if the state suspends, cancels, or
revokes my license?
A. Suspension involves the temporary withdrawal of your privilege
to drive. The state
may reinstate that privilege after a designated time period and payment
of a fee. You may also restore the privilege by remedying the underlying
cause of the suspension, such as buying automobile insurance.
Cancellation involves voluntarily giving up your driving privilege without
Cancellation allows you to reapply for a license immediately.
Revocation aims both to discipline the driver and protect the public.
involuntarily ends your driving privilege. Revocation generally is permanent
until you are eligible after a minimum period set by law to apply for
a new license. The state may conduct a reinstatement hearing. You may
have to retake a driver's license examination.
|Driving with a Suspended or Revoked License
The police probably will arrest you for driving with a suspended or
revoked license. This usually is a serious misdemeanor that carries
with it a stiff fine and possibly some time in the local jail. In
some states, however, it may be a felony that lands the offender in
state prison or with a significant amount of community service to
work off, particularly if the suspension or revocation was based upon
If you are stopped while driving with either a revoked or suspended
license, you can
expect to be arrested and taken to the police station to post bond.
If you cannot raise the required amount of bond money, you will be
taken to court for a bond hearing (usually within twenty-four hours),
where a judge, in his or her broad discretion, will set bond.
You will remain in jail until the bond is posted. The bond you will
need to post
depends on the crime you are alleged to have committed and on your
previous driving record. A monetary bond might be set, or you might
be released on a personal recognizance bond, which requires only your
signature and promise to return to court as ordered and not to violate
any other laws.
Q. If State A has suspended/revoked my license, but I have a
valid license in State B,
can I drive in State A?
A. Under the law of some states, a valid driver's license from
another jurisdiction does not
enable you to drive on the highways of a state that has cancelled, suspended,
your license. However, other states have held that a license properly
issued by a foreign
state under the Driver's License Compact ends the suspension or revocation
of a motorist's
Q. What are the grounds for license suspension?
A. They vary by state. A local lawyer will be able to give you
details about your state
laws. Generally, however, a state might provide that three moving violations
year warrant a three-month suspension. Refusal to submit to a field sobriety
testing device test also will result in suspension.
Q. What are the grounds for license revocation?
A. They are based on violating specific laws, such as habitual
reckless driving, drunken
driving, nonpayment of your motor vehicle excise tax, using a motor vehicle
to commit a
felony, and fleeing from or eluding the police. Again, they vary by state.
Q. Does the law entitle me to notice and a hearing before the
state revokes my
A. Barring an emergency, due process under the Fourteenth Amendment
requires notice and a chance to be heard before the state ends a person's
However, for certain serious offenses, the state may simply rely on the
court conviction to
revoke the person's license without the need for any hearing.
Q. What if the state charges me with an offense that requires
a license suspension?
A. Unless another law says otherwise, no notice is necessary
before a state may suspend
your license under the mandatory provisions of a law. As a driver, you
are presumed to
know the law.
Q. If the state does notify me, what should the notice say?
A. The time, place, and purpose of the hearing should appear
on the notice of a hearing to
suspend or revoke your license.
Q. Does the law entitle me to a jury?
A. No. A suspension/revocation hearing is an administrative,
not a judicial proceeding.
You are entitled, however, to confront and cross-examine witnesses against
you at such a
hearing. You are well advised to be represented by counsel at such a hearing.
Q. What must the state prove before a court can convict me of
driving on a
suspended or revoked license?
A. The law varies from one state to another. The state, however,
usually has to show that:
• the accused's license or privilege to drive was revoked or suspended
on the occasion in
• the accused was driving a motor vehicle on a public highway at
the time of the