License Punishments

There are basically three types of license punishments: suspensions, revocations, and cancellations. The meaning vary slightly between the states, but in general the following applies:

  • Suspension: A temporary withdrawal of your driving privilege. When the suspension period has passed, everything goes back to normal and your license is restored. You have served your time.
  • Revocation: A indefinite withdrawal or complete termination of your driving privilege. When the revocation period has passed, you must apply for a new license and often go through the whole testing phase again. There is no guarantee that you will get your license back. Your state may deny your application for several reasons.
  • Cancellation: The reasons for your privilege no longer exist or you are disqualified. This is often the case when you gave wrong information in your application or shouldn’t have been issued a license in the first place. Your license may also be canceled for health reasons.

A license can be suspended or revoked by the court or by the DMV, or by both.

Ways to Lose Your Driving Privilege

Even if laws differ between U.S. States, there are some violations that will most likely result in a loss of your driver’s license in every state. They may lead to either a suspension or a revocation. If your license is suspended or revoked in one state, you will not be issued a license in another state.

1. Failure to stop at the Scene of a Crash

All states require you to stop at the scene of an accident. Hit-and-run driving, especially when it involves death or injury to another person, is one of the most serious offenses on the road and in some states considered a felony. If you are convicted of fleeing the scene, you will most likely lose your license.

Remember, if you are involved in a crash, even it is just property damages, you must stop at the scene or close by. You must identify yourself and show driver’s license and proof of insurance to other drivers and to law enforcement officers.

2. Willfully Fleeing a Police Officer

If you are ordered to stop your vehicle by a law enforcement, you must do so. If you willfully refuse to stop your vehicle in compliance with the officer’s order, you will be charged with something that is generally known as Fleeing and Eluding. If you try to speed away from a police officer, you will probably also face additional charges, like reckless driving.

This offense will not only lead to a loss of your driving privilege for a long time, it will also result in heavy fines and/or jail time.

3. Drunk Driving (DUI)

All U.S. States may revoke your driving privilege if you are convicted of multiple drunk driving offenses. The more severe punishment in form of a revocation usually kicks in after the third offense, which is often seen as a felony.

Drunk driving penalties have become harsher over the years, and do not only include suspension or revocation of your driver’s license. You will also see severe fines, court costs, and possibly jail time already after your first offense.

4. Engaging in Drag Racing or Speed Contests

No state allows drag racing on public streets. It is not only dangerous, it may also have severe consequences with a possible revocation of your license. The same applies to repeated offenses of reckless driving.

5. Committing a Felony Using a Vehicle

Using a motor vehicle to commit a felony (a serious crime) is also a sure way of losing your driver’s license. This includes basically any type of crime that is considered a felony and in which you used your car.

Example: Mandatory License Revocations in West Virginia

To understand how revocations are used in some states, study this list of convictions that will result in a mandatory DMV revocation of the driver’s license in West Virginia:

  • Manslaughter or negligent homicide resulting from the operation of a motor vehicle
  • Two or more moving violation convictions as a graduated driver
  • Providing false information to the DMV
  • Leaving the scene of a crash that results in death or personal injury
  • Three convictions of reckless driving in 24 months
  • Racing on streets or highways (drag racing)
  • Driving while license is suspended or revoked
  • Failure to satisfy a civil judgment against you as a result of your involvement in an automobile crash
  • Conviction in this state or in any other state for driving under the influence of alcohol, controlled substances, or drugs
  • Failure to pay for gasoline upon second conviction
  • Any felony committed using a motor vehicle