What happens if you drive with a suspended license?

Updated April 17, 2017

Driving with a suspended license means you cannot legally drive a vehicle until the suspension is lifted. If a person continues to drive under a suspended license, they are breaking the law. When a license is suspended, the suspension is in effect until the relevant government agency (usually court-ordered) lifts the suspension.

Different State Laws for Driving With a Suspended License

Most states have the same laws for driving with a suspended license. The key differences from state to state are the types of punishments handed down for getting caught. Some states have more lenient punishments while others have stiffer fines or mandatory jail sentences.

Proof of Driving Under a Suspended License

Most states require only two items to prove a person is driving under a suspended license. The first is that the person was driving a vehicle on a public road or highway. The second is that their license has been suspended. There are states that require proof that you knew your license was suspended and wilfully drove and broke the law. This would be done in a letter being sent by the state and received by you or that you appeared in court and were punished with a license suspension.

Defense for Being Caught Driving with a Suspended License

If you want to challenge your arrest for driving with a suspended license, you should order your driving record from the department of motor vehicles. Make sure you are the correct person and that your name is not similar to someone else or that it is a mistake. Next, you should prove to the court that your license should not have been suspended and request a dismissal. Another defence is to prove that you were not aware that your license was suspended. If the state cannot prove that you received notice, or prove that they did give notice, then the revocation will be lifted. If the state did send you a notice but you moved, then you are still at fault since it is your obligation to update your license with a new address if you have moved.

Sentencing and Punishments

The punishment for driving under a license suspension is usually pretty stiff. Many times your license can be permanently suspended, you will draw a hefty fine or you can even serve time in jail. Sometimes you will get all three. This is especially true if you have prior offences or your license was suspended for driving under the influence. Sometimes mandatory sentences are given if you were driving under the influence and hurt someone.

Insurance and Driving Under a Suspended License

If you are driving under a suspended license and are caught, your car insurance premiums will likely increase. Many insurance companies will allow you to buy insurance with a suspended license, but only if it's to lift the suspended license because you lack car insurance. They will normally give you a specific time frame to have your license reinstated. If your license is not reinstated, your coverage will be cancelled.

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About the Author

Prisca Rollins majored in accounting in college and minored in business. She was a Vet and Surgical Tech in the Army and a contractor with the US Army as an Admin and Marketing Coordinator overseas. Rollins is TESOL certified and has taken the PHR and Life, Health and Annuity Insurance Course.