How to Handle a Suspended License Ticket

One of the most common citations issued is for driving on a suspended or revoked license. Because it is issued as a "citation," people are often confused when it shows up as a misdemeanor in court. There are several ways to dispel such confusion and get the best result possible once you've been issued a driving on a suspended license ticket.

How To Handle a Driving on a Suspended License Ticket

Make sure you know your court date. The date you are to appear in court is usually shown right above or below where you signed the citation. This is the "D-day."

Figure out why your license was suspended. If it was for unpaid traffic tickets, pay them. If it was for a failure to appear ("FTA") on a prior citation, make an appointment to appear in court. If it was for unpaid child support, make arrangements with your local child support office to begin payment. If it was for a prior DUI, satisfy the requirements and show the DMV proof of completion. You can usually figure out the source of your suspension by calling the DMV. There are very few occasions when the court itself would have suspended your license. Usually, it was suspended by the DMV. However, DMV personnel should be able to answer any question you may have regarding the suspension.

Take care of the citation prior to the date you are ordered to appear in court. The court system as well as the District Attorney is much more willing to work with you if you can tell them (and they can confirm) that you truly have your license back. The whole motivation behind these charges is to keep people from driving without a valid license. So, if you can get yours back, you're showing them they won't see you back in court in the near future with the same charge. Note: if you know you can get your license back but need a little more time to do so, ask the judge for an extension. He or she will usually allow you to continue the case once to get your license back.

Know where you stand. If you can't get your license back in the near future, i.e., within a month or two, be prepared to face the music. Driving on a suspended license is a misdemeanor so the maximum penalty will be up to either six months or a year in county jail, depending on your prior record, and the laws of your state. Also, if you've had a prior driving on suspended license charge within a five year period (or seven, in some states), you may be looking at the minimum mandatory jail time.

Read More: What Happens If You Drive With a Suspended License?


  • For a driving on a suspended license charge, the District Attorney has to be able to prove you KNEW of the license suspension. If the DMV mailed a written notice to an address where you were living at the time it was mailed, the burden lies on you to prove that you did not recieve it. Keep this in mind when deciding whether or not to plead guilty.


  • It's often hard to get things done over the phone in general but especially with the DMV. To make sure you get your questions answered your best bet is to head down to your local DMV and ask in person. Make sure you keep track of the name of the person you talked to and their position, in case you need to cite their advice in the future.
  • Make sure you keep track of your credits. If you got arrested the day you got your citation, the time you spent in jail counts generally towards your ultimate sentence in the case. Also, a day's credit is given for even one minute in custody on a particular day. For example, if you go into custody at 11:58 p.m. on Friday and get released at 12:05 a.m. on Saturday, you have two days of credit.

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