Protecting Your Rights
Who Can Take Away My License?
If you have a Virginia Driver’s License, both the Virginia Courts and the Virginia DMV may take away your license. If your license is from a state other than Virginia, Virginia cannot take away your license but the Virginia Courts and Virginia DMV may ban you from driving in Virginia. If Virginia does suspend your right to drive in Virginia your home state will be notified by Virginia of your conviction and your home state may choose to restrict your driving privileges. Many states do not suspend the licenses of drivers receiving reckless driving convictions in Virginia. However, consult with a traffic attorney from your home state to find out what your home state will do in your specific situation.
What Happens When a Judge Takes Away My License?
The Virginia courts have the power to take away driving privileges for certain criminal offenses including reckless driving. When the Court revokes or suspends a driver’s license the suspension will take effect immediately. Unless the judge gives you permission, you will not be allowed to drive home. The deputy will typically confiscate your license in the courtroom and the license suspension will appear on your online court file.
If you appeal the judge’s decision less than ten days after your court date, any license suspension you received will be erased and your license will be returned until the circuit court judge hears your appeal. Click here to learn more about General District Court appeals.
What if I Don’t Turn In My License?
If a Virginia judge suspends your Virginia license, the bailiff will demand that you immediately surrender your driver’s license in court. If you do not give your license to the bailiff or court clerk you are still suspended from driving. You can be arrested for driving away from the court house unless the judge gives you special permission to drive home.
If you do not turn in your actual license, you will still be suspended but the court ordered suspension period will not start until you turn in your license to the Court Clerk, bailiff or the Virginia DMV. For example: if you wait 4 months to turn in your driver’s license after being given a 6 month suspension, you will not be able to drive for a total of 10 months.
Suspension for Late Fees
The Court will take away your license for failing to pay all of your fines and court costs within 15 days of court (unless you do so as part of a court approved payment plan).
If you cannot afford to pay all of your fines and court costs within the 15 days your attorney cam request that the court create a payment plan that will allow you to drive while you make monthly payments to the court.
When Can The DMV Take My License
The Virginia DMV will take away a Virginia license for accumulating excessive demerit points over a specific period of time. The DMV may also revoke a Virginia license for an out-of-state criminal conviction that would have resulted in a license suspension in Virginia (i.e. being convicted of a DUI in another state).
The DMV may also take away a Virginia License if the DMV believes the driver is not mentally or physically able to operate a vehicle safely. If an officer believes that a driver is too old or too disabled to drive safely, that officer may contact DMV and request that the driver’s license be revoked.
How Many Demerit Points Can I Get?
The Virginia DMV can revoke Virginia drivers’ right to drive, require them to take driving improvement classes, or place them on probation if they accumulate too many demerit points. DMV suspensions are independent of any court’s suspension, and the courts cannot control DMV’s suspensions.
For drivers who are under 18 years old, any demerit-point conviction means that the minor must take a driver improvement class. Failure to take the class within 90 days will cost the driver their license until the program is completed. A second point conviction will result in a 90-day license suspension. A third point conviction will result in a one-year suspension or a suspension until the driver reaches age 18, whichever takes longer.
|Consequences of Demerit Points in Virginia (Adult Drivers)|
|Within 12 months||Within 24 months|
|8points||Letter from DMV||Nothing|
|12 points||Mandatory driver-improvement class||Letter from DMV|
|18 points||Mandatory 90-day license suspension + driver-improvement class + probation for six months||Mandatory driver-improvement class|
|24 points||Mandatory 90-day license suspension + driver-improvement class + probation for six months||Mandatory 90-day license suspension + driver-improvement class + probation for six months|
Adult drivers who accumulate 8 demerit points in 12 months or 12 points in 24 months will get an advisory letter from the DMV. Accumulating 12 demerit points within 12 months or 18 points in 24 months means the driver must take a driver improvement class. The class must be completed within 90 days, or the driver’s license will be suspended indefinitely. After completing the program the driver will be placed on probation for 6 months and then placed on a control period for an additional 18 months.
If the driver receives any demerit points while on probation his license will be suspended, and if he commits the same infraction during the control period he will be placed on another 6 months of probation followed by another 18- month control period.
Receiving 18 points in 12 months or 24 points in 24 months results in a mandatory 90-day license suspension. After the suspension the offender must complete a driver improvement class before his license can be restored. After restoration, the driver will be placed on probation for six months and then a control period for 18 months.
Drivers who are convicted of a demerit-point violation while on DMV probation will lose their driving privileges. The suspension will be 45 days for a three-point violation, 60 days for a four-point violation, and 90 days for a six-point violation. After the suspension period, the driver will be placed on probation for an additional six months and then a control period for 18 months.
What is A Restricted License?
In Virginia, restricted licenses are restrictive! Restrictive licenses give you permission to drive only for approved activities at approved locations and during approved times. Driving outside the limitations of your restricted license is a crime and may lead to your car being impounded, jail, additional suspensions and much more. Click here to learn more about driving on a suspended license.
The Virginia Traffic Courts and the DMV may grant a restricted license for the following activities ONLY:
• Driving to and from work
• Driving during employment hours for work purposes
• Driving to and from school
• Driving to and from a religious place of worship
• Driving for health care services, including medically necessary transportation of an elderly parent or of a person residing in the driver’s household
• Driving a minor child to and from school, day care or for medical treatment
• Driving to and from a court-ordered child visitation
• Driving to and from court appearances when subpoenaed as a witness or as a party
• Driving to and from an intensive case monitoring program for child support as a non-custodial parent
• Driving to and from appointments with a probation officer
• Driving to and from a probation program
Can I Get a Restricted License?
If the Court suspends your license you can receive a restricted license only if:
• A Judge approves the restricted license and the law gives the judge the power to do so.
(To find out if a judge is likely to allow you a restricted license contact a local reckless driving attorney)
If the DMV takes away your license you can get a restricted license only if:
• You violated your DMV probation AND
• This is your first DMV probation violation OR this is your second DMV probation violation but the current probationary period was immediately preceded by an 18-month control period.
If you are suspended after not paying court fines or costs you may be able to get your full driving privileges back, if:
• The Court issues you a payment plan and you continuously comply with that plan. Talk to a local reckless driving attorney to find out more about payment plans.
How Can I Get a Restricted License?
If you want the court to issue you a restricted license, consult a local reckless driving attorney. Your attorney will be able to inform you if you are eligible and appear with you in court to argue your case before the judge. You should fill out the Restricted License Form (link to DC263) with your attorney because little errors could result in the violation of the terms of your license.
If you are suspended for failure to pay court fines or costs you may be able to get your license back will full privileges if you can arrange the court to issue you a payment plan. Contact a local reckless driving attorney to find out how it can be done.
If you need a DMV restricted license, bring documentation of your employment, school class schedule, etc. on official letterhead to the DMV. A DMV clerk can issue you a restricted license at the DMV on the same day.