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Got Your License Suspended in California? Here Is What You Should Do

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There are several reasons for a suspended license in California. It could be either the DMV or the court that orders your license suspension. Therefore, if you drive with one, you are in for legal consequences. Here we look at the reasons for license suspension and how to navigate in California without your license. 

When your California driver’s license is suspended, you won’t be able to drive a car for a certain period of time. However, in most cases, you can follow a few steps to get your driving license reinstated after it has been suspended for a period of time. 

What are the reasons for a license suspension in California?  

Driving without insurance  

If you don’t have insurance and you get into an accident, your license will be taken away for four years. Consequently, after a year, you can get it back if you show the DMV that you have insurance and keep it for the next three years.  

If you fail to report an accident  

Accidents can certainly cause anxiety. However, failing to report an accident in California can result in license suspension. 

Convicted of a DUI charge 

Firstly, California has the toughest DUI laws in the country. Therefore, driving on a suspended license after DUI in California is next to impossible. If it is six months for a first conviction, you may lose the license for up to four years.   

Drinking Underage  

This can lead to losing your license for a year or until you turn 18.   

Refusing an alcohol test  

Not cooperating with a drug or alcohol test to save yourself from a DUI conviction, can result in a suspended license even if you are innocent.   

Points on your driving record  

The California DMV will suspend or revoke your license if you have too many points. Alternatively, you can also be put on driving probation for one year.  


In cases of vandalism, expect the license to be suspended for a year.  

Not showing up in court  

Your license will be suspended if you fail to report to the California DMV for a traffic ticket or do not pay the fine.   

In addition, if you fail to pay for child support, your license can be suspended in California.   

How can you notify a change of address with the California DMV? 

Is there a difference between a revoked and a suspended license in California?  

A license suspension implies a restriction in driving. In other words, you won’t be able to drive for a specific period. However, if you pay the fine, you will get the license back after the suspension period. As a result, if you drive while your license is suspended, it may be revoked. 

Here are a few other instances when your license can be revoked.   

  • Felonies  
  • Failure to appear in court  
  • Speeding on crowded roads  
  • Driving under the influence leading to accidents  
  • Reckless driving  

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How do I check the status of my license in California?  

Not all tickets may lead to a suspension. However, driving with a suspended license even if you were unaware of it, is a crime in California. The penalty for driving with a suspended license in California can result in 6 months of jail time or a $1000 fine. Therefore, get it checked before you set out on your next drive. This can be done online, in person, or via mail.   

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Check the license status online in California 

  • Go to the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) driver record request page. 
  • Create an account. 
  • Fill in the details like email address, driver’s license number, phone number, and the last 4 digits of your social security number. 
  • Pay $2.04. 
  • View the driving record and get a printout

Steps to check the license status in person  

  • Visit the nearest California DMV office. 
  • Fill out the INF 1125 form 
  • Request your driving license record. 
  • Pay $5 as the fees. 
  • Receive the official record. 

Steps to check the license status via mail 

  • Fill out the INF 1125 form. 
  • Provide personal information. 
  • Pay $5 as fees. 
  • Send the form via mail to  

Department of Motor Vehicles 

P.O. Box 944247 MS G199 

Sacramento, CA 94244 

How to reinstate a suspended license in California 

The steps to be taken to get your license reinstated in California will depend on the reason for its suspension.  

In simple terms, first, you have to pay the fine. Second, submit the proof of responsibility to the DMV, and third, follow the DMV’s instructions regarding the required classes. However, for a suspension due to physical or mental conditions, you can submit a driver’s medical evaluation.   

If you go by the details, these steps will get your license reinstated in California. 

Convicted of drinking under the influence (DUI) 

  • Complete the suspension period 

The suspension period can differ with the Blood Alcohol Level. For example, if your BAC was 0.15% or higher, then you have to complete a 9-month program. In the same vein, you will face suspension for 10 months if it is 0.20% or higher. In addition you should attend an enhanced DUI program. 

  • Reissuance fee payment 

Pay a $125.00 reissue fee and file a Proof of Financial Responsibility (SR22) to the DMV. If you were under the age 21 the reissue fee is $100.00.  

  • Proof of DUI Treatment Program 

Proof of enrollment in DUI Treatment Program and a Certificate of Completion (DL-101).  

Convicted with a physical/mental condition or disorder 

  • Provide a satisfactory Driver Medical Evaluation (DS-326). 

You were without insurance when an accident occurred

  • Complete the suspension period, fee payment of $125, and file SR-22; the proof of financial responsibility. 

Based on the reason for your suspension, you may be able to get a restricted driver’s license in limited places. If you have a non-commercial driver’s license and proof of enrollment in a DUI treatment program, you may be able to get a restricted license after a mandatory 30-day suspension to drive to and from work. You must meet the other requirements and pay a $125 or $100 reissue fee. 

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What is BILL SB881? 

It is a law on the suspended license in California. The law prohibits the DMV from automatically suspending the licenses of low-income or poor drivers who have not paid or appeared in court for minor traffic violations. 

What is the reform of the license suspension law? 

According to the new law on suspended license in California, California state courts will stop sending notices to the DMV for license suspensions for failure to appear starting on January 1, 2023.while requiring the DMV to stop suspending licenses for failing to appear starting on January 1, 2027. 

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