CRIMINAL DEFENSE • DISCIPLINARY INVESTIGATIONS & HEARINGS

How does a driver’s license suspension differ from a revocation?

Posted April 24, 2015

Most people in New York understand that their driver’s license can be suspended or revoked if they are convicted of a serious traffic offense, but few understand the differences between the two kinds of penalties. In one respect, the two penalties are identical: driving a motor vehicle when a driver’s license has been suspended or revoked is illegal. In other respects, the two penalties have significant differences.

A driver’s license suspension is a temporary withdrawal of the privilege of operating a motor vehicle in New York. Causes of suspension include failing to have automobile liability insurance, conviction of a drug or alcohol driving violation, issuance of too many traffic tickets and other violations. A suspension can be indefinite, in which case the person must perform a certain act, such as paying a ticket fine, paying delinquent child support or other conditions imposed by the court, before the suspension will be lifted. A “definite” suspension is the withdrawal of driving privileges for a period of time specified by the court. Upon expiration of the suspension period, the driver must pay a “suspension termination fee” to regain full driving privileges.

A New York driver’s license revocation is a cancellation of the driving privilege and the requirement of obtaining a new driver’s license in order to regain driving privileges. A revocation can be ordered for involvement in a motor vehicle accident without liability insurance, conviction of a serious traffic offense, involvement in an accident involving a fatality and other serious driving violations. The important difference between a suspension and a revocation is that a person whose license has been revoked has no assurance that the license will be re-issued, even if the driver pays the fines and serves a term of imprisonment for the original violation.

Any person charged with a driving violation that could result in either license suspension or revocation is facing the possibility of a significant life-altering event. Consultation with an attorney experienced in handling DUI and DWI cases may be very helpful. A lawyer who is knowledgeable about such cases can offer helpful advice about the likelihood of acquittal, possible sentences and a strategy for defending against the charges.

Source: New York Department of Motor Vehicles, “Suspensions and revocations,” accessed on April 19, 2015

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