Can the DMV Really Suspend My Drivers License for 5-Years?

The short answer is unfortunately "yes." The problem is that when you ask how you can "fix" this problem - and a 5-year suspension is a big problem for anyone - you will receive different answers from everyone you talk to.  Clerks are trained to not give out anything that could be construed as legal advice so often times they will tell you that you are stuck or to hire an attorney (best advice and not just because I am one). Worse, the DMV personnel will all tell you something different and nothing helpful.

A five year suspension is typically issued because someone has been found guilty of three "Driving While License Suspended" [DWLS] citations within a five year period of time (subject to the DMV's "new math" determination). DWLS tickets are usually due to unpaid tickets (if you don't take care of a ticket you receive within 30 days the county clerk will suspend your drivers license). A 5-year suspension occurs because you just pay your DWLS citations or you go to court and just enter a quick "no contest" plea to just get it over with. HINT: Never do either of these when you receive a DWLS ticket.

The usual scenario is that a person decides enough is enough and they are going to pay all their outstanding late tickets all at once and get their driving privileges back. In fact, this will be the exact advice given from the DMV if you ask them.

Driver: "Hey, can you tell me what I have to do to get my license back?"
DMV Person: "Let's see..., hmmm... looks like your license is suspended for unpaid tickets. Pay those off and we will reinstate your license. Remember to come back here and pay us our fee."

Nevermind the fact that by just paying your tickets the DMV will assess points on your driving record AND count those pesky DWLS tickets towards a nice surprising 5-year suspension.


Another short answer is "maybe." That's better than "no" and not as good as a definitive "yes." What you need to do is find an attorney that knows this area of the law and has actually gotten people back their driving privileges. I know we have done this but you, the driver, do not know us from Adam. That will apply with almost any attorney you talk to. You will be faced with some lawyer telling you what you want to hear, or what you don't want to hear, or a lawyer explaining what he or she can try and do and what you can expect (which is going to be that there is never a guarantee with this type of legal work). If a lawyer promises you a good outcome, move on. If another says there is nothing that can be done - keep looking. Find the attorney that will sit down and look at your driving record with you and explain why or why not there is a chance of restoring your drivers license.

There are many reasons why someone's drivers license could be suspended.  Some reasons are reversible, others are not.  Most can be fixed. Don't just accept what the DMV decides. Always consult with an attorney.

Finally, if your drivers license IS suspended - do not drive. Don't make the hole deeper by being charged with a criminal offense.

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