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DC Traffic Laws: Driving on a Suspended License

Did you know that in DC your driver’s license can be suspended for issues not related to driving? One example is failing to pay child support. Other examples of incidents or offenses that can jeopardize you DC driver’s license include:

  • Racking up too many points against your driving record. Points are levied for traffic violations such as speeding, failing to signal, and failing to stop at signs and traffic signals. Penalty points generally stay on your record for two years and are cumulative. That means that even minor offenses could result in a suspended license if you accumulate ten or more points within any two-year period.
  • Committing what is known as a “major moving violation.” This means it is a violation that warrants license revocation itself. Examples include driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol (DUI) or being cited for reckless driving. For DUI/DWI offenses, suspension of your driver license may be mandatory after conviction. For other offenses, such as reckless driving, your license suspension may be subject to a hearing.
  • Refusing to submit to a blood-alcohol test when stopped on suspicion of DUI.
  • Vehicular homicide.
  • Leaving the scene of any accident that results in injury.
  • Driving more than 30 mph over the posted speed limit.
  • Failing to appear at a scheduled hearing.
  • Driving without insurance.
  • Being deemed mentally or physically unfit to drive.
  • Failing to pay the fines associated with tickets issued in DC.
  • Failing to pay the fines associated with moving violations in other jurisdictions.

Options for a Suspended License

If your license has already been suspended, you may wonder what – if any – options remain. Of course you can wait out the suspension, though this may put your job or ability to care for your personal needs and your family at great risk. A DC traffic lawyer who is well-versed in this area of law can petition for you to be granted a restricted license, which limits your driving privileges to crucial tasks – such as getting to work, school, doctor’s appointments, and other medical services. This is typically known as a limited occupational license. In DC, this request must include a letter from your employer (on company letterhead) that confirms you need your driver license to get to work, conduct business, and maintain your livelihood.

Other options for getting your license reinstated depend upon the reason for the suspension or revocation. Here are a few examples:

  • You can try to contest the suspension mandatory discretionary suspension. This is done by requesting an administrative hearing within thirty days of the offense and contesting the ticket or offense that gave rise to the proposed suspension. If the hearing does not result in your license being maintained, you can appeal this decision. You can contact us for assistance in this process if you’d like help.
  • If your license was suspended due to a failure to pay fines, your license typically can be reinstated after you pay the fines or are approved for a payment plan and begin making payments.
  • If your license was suspended or revoked due to a drug or alcohol offense, then you will also need to show proof of completion of a substance abuse course. The course must be state or DC approved and completed after your license is suspended or revoked. Your attorney will need to present it to a hearing examiner at a reinstatement hearing in order to regain your driving privileges.
  • For all revoked licenses, regardless of the reason for revocation, you will have to restart the licensing process. This means you’ll need to retake the driving and written tests required for a DC driver’s license. In nearly all cases, a reinstatement fee is required.

To find out if you would likely qualify for an occupational license, or if you will need to have your license reinstated, you should speak with a DC criminal defense attorney who is familiar with traffic law.

Driving on a Suspended License

Waiting until your driver license is valid or reinstated can take a long time. However, the penalties can soar if you’re caught driving with a suspended license. According to DC Code 50-1403.01(e), the fine can range up $5,000, and also run the very real risk of up to one year in jail. In addition, your license will likely be suspended for an even greater length of time, and such charges can cause your motor vehicle insurance premiums to spike or cause your carrier to drop your insurance altogether.

Given the seriousness of the potential penalties, it should be clear that you will require the services of a dedicated DC traffic attorney, one who has litigated numerous cases involving allegations of driving with a suspended license and who can work to undermine the case against you. If a conviction is inevitable, your attorney will be best-suited to mitigate the potential penalties. Your attorney can also help you if you’ve already lost your driving privilege and are looking to appeal the matter. Learn more about how a traffic lawyer can help here.

It’s also important to understand the status of your license. If you’re in any way unsure, it would be smart to call the Department of Motor Vehicles to confirm that your license is current.

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