Driver's License Suspension and Revocation in New York

In New York, traffic tickets can affect one's driver's license in various ways, but some violations of the law require a judge to either suspend or revoke your license. Suppose you are convicted of a serious traffic violation or multiple traffic violations within a certain period. In that case, the New York Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) has the authority to suspend or revoke your driving privileges. Driving a motor vehicle while your license is suspended or revoked is a criminal offense that will result in serious criminal penalties. But what is the distinction between a suspension and a revocation, and what circumstances result in which penalty?

NY License Suspension

If your driver's license is suspended, it will be taken away for a set period before being returned. Suspensions can have a set suspension period, known as a definite suspension, or they can be indefinite and require you to do something specific to be lifted.

Definite Suspension

For the following reasons, definite suspensions may be issued:

Driving Without Car Insurance

  • All vehicles in New York must be properly insured under VTL 319. Driving without insurance is a very serious offense. You could lose your license for up to a year, face a $1,500 fine, and spend 15 days in jail.

Driving Under the Influence (DUI)

  • Your driving privileges in New York will be suspended if you are found guilty of DUI/DWI. The length of your license suspension will be determined by your blood alcohol content (BAC) level and whether you are a first-time or repeat offender.
  • If your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is higher than 0.18 percent, you will most likely be charged with Aggravated Driving While Intoxicated. Your license will be suspended for a year if you are convicted.
  • You can be charged with Driving While Intoxicated if your blood alcohol content (BAC) is greater than 0.08 percent but less than 0.18 percent (DWI). Your license will be suspended for 6 months if you are convicted.

Driving While Ability Impaired (DWAI)

  • Your license will be suspended for 90 days if you are convicted of Driving While Ability Impaired (DWAI). DWAI is usually issued to drivers who are high while driving and whose testing results show that they are impaired below the 0.08 percentage limit. A second DWAI conviction within 5 years of the first could result in a 6-month license suspension.

Receiving Too Many Traffic Tickets

  • If you receive 11 or more points within 18 months in New York, your license will be suspended.
  • Remember that moving violations have fixed-point values, and the more moving violations you commit, the closer you will be to a driving record suspension.
  • A conviction for talking on a cell phone (a 5-point ticket) while driving 21 miles per hour over the speed limit (a 6-point ticket) will suspend your license.

Indefinite Suspension

An indefinite suspension can result from:
  • Abandoning Your Car on a Public Highway (VTL 1224-7)
  • Fleeing from a Police Officer
  • Found to be at Fault in a Fatal Accident
  • "Hit and Run": Leaving the Scene of an Accident (VTL 600-1a)
  • Junior License Holder Convicted of 1 Serious Traffic Violation
  • Junior License Holder Convicted of 2 Traffic Violations
  • Offering a False Instrument for Filing
  • Racing: Unauthorized Speed Contest
  • Receiving 3 Convictions within 3 Years for Passing a School Bus
  • Receiving 3 Speeding Ticket or 2 Work Zone Speeding Ticket Convictions within 18 Months
  • Reckless Driving (VTL 1212)
Finally, the following non-moving violations and non-driving related offenses can result in the suspension of your driver's license:
  • Failing to Comply with a Court Judgment
  • Failing to File an Accident Report (VTL 605-a1)
  • Failing to Pay Child Support (VTL 510)
  • Failure to Respond to or Pay a New York Traffic Ticket
  • Having a Medical Condition That Compromises Your Ability to Drive
  • Not Showing Up to a Court Appearance

NY License Revocation

A revocation of a driver's license is far more serious than a suspension because it is permanent. When the revocation period expires, your license is revoked, and you must apply for a new one. Individuals who have had their license revoked must frequently request approval from the DMV and retake written and behind-the-wheel tests to reestablish their fitness to drive. Individuals who are deemed "high risk" due to a history of serious violations may have their license reissued denied. Revocations can result from the following:
  • Driving or allowing someone else to drive your vehicle without insurance
  • Being involved in a car accident with an uninsured driver
  • Being convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs
  • A conviction for a serious traffic offense or a series of offenses
  • Failure to pass a DMV road test
  • Making a false statement on a license or registration application
  • Being involved in a fatal automobile accident

Difference Between Suspension and Revocation

While the terms are frequently used interchangeably, driver's license suspension and revocation are not the same things. If you have your license suspended, the New York Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) will take away your driving privileges for a set period, but the only action you must take at the end of the suspension is to pay a suspension termination fee. However, if your license is revoked, the DMV cancels your driving privileges and requires you to reapply for your license at the end of the revocation period. If you do not meet the DMV's requirements or have a poor driving record, the DMV may refuse to accept your application.

The New York Point System

The New York DMV keeps driving records on all licensed drivers to track driving behavior. Furthermore, New York is a member of the National Driver Register. If you are convicted of a traffic violation in New York or any other state, the information will be recorded on your record. All traffic tickets in New York, from speeding tickets to DUIs, are assigned a point value. When you are convicted of a traffic violation, not only will the violation appear on your record, but so will the points associated with that ticket. Different offenses are worth different amounts of points. Speeding tickets in New York, for example, can range from 3 points (driving 1-10 MPH over the limit) to 11 points (driving 40 MPH over the limit). If you add 11 points for traffic violations to your record in 18 months, your license may be suspended. As a result, if you are convicted of exceeding the speed limit by 40 miles per hour, you will lose your license.

How to Handle a Suspended or Revoked License in New York

Apply For A Restricted License

Some drivers may be able to obtain a restricted license. This restricted license allows you to drive for work or school, transport a child to and from school or daycare, travel to and from the court or the DMV for restricted license-related business, or travel to and from a medical facility. If your license was suspended due to a drug or alcohol violation, you could only apply for a restricted license if enrolled in a state-approved Drinking Driver Program.

Reinstate Your License

The DMV will send you a Notice of Restoration before your suspension period expires. This form will include instructions for paying your restoration fee, either online or at your local DMV office. Pay your fee before the suspension period on your New York driver's license expires. Wait three days after submitting payment before reviewing the Photo ID Document Mailing Lookup page. Enter your client ID or name and date of birth here to determine when your license will be reinstated. Contact the DMV if there is no processing date.

Keep Your Driving Record Clean

Remember, even if your license is reinstated, you are still liable. You must keep your driving record spotless or risk losing your license. In addition, a suspended license has a significant monetary impact in the form of higher insurance rates. Consider taking a state-approved course to improve your driving record and your standing with your insurance company. This course can reduce your driving record points and earn you a mandatory insurance rate reduction.