How to Get a Suspended License Reinstated

November 1, 2019

You’ve made a serious and far-reaching mistake—you’ve gotten a DUI conviction. And beyond the court fees, fines, and increased car insurance, you’re also worried about all the complexities that come with the potential loss of transportation. 

Don’t get overwhelmed in the legal process of getting your license back after a DUI violation. We’re going to walk you through how to get a suspended license reinstated. 

Immediate Actions to Take:

Getting a Temporary Occupational or Hardship License

If you fear losing your job due to loss of transportation while your case is pending, you may petition the court for immediate-though-limited driving privileges. Courts are generally sympathetic when it comes to maintaining employment and will often grant you a limited license to drive only to and from work during working hours.

The courts also have laws in place when it comes to quality-of-life issues, especially if you happen to care for someone else and need daily transportation for you or them.  Another form of a hardship license may therefore be granted to caregivers or to those with a medical condition. With proper documentation, you will be allowed to fulfill caregiver demands such as driving your children to school, driving to and from the residence of a disabled loved one you care for, and driving yourself or another person to required medical appointments.

Yes, you’ve had a lapse in judgment; but courts are there to work with you. They do not wish you any more hardship or life-altering circumstances than is necessary to pay the debt for your DUI. 

Administrative Court Appeals

Besides helping you obtain a temporary license, your DUI attorney will help you with an appeal. It is recommended to go to your appeal hearing only with counsel present. Your attorney will guard you from saying something on the record that could potentially harm your case. And far beyond just the offensive protection is the defensive proactive stance necessary to your case. Your attorney can help find any of these “loopholes” or mitigating circumstances that may get your license reinstated more quickly:

  • Factual inaccuracies
  • Errors on the arrest report 
  • Any mistakes made on tickets
  • Illegal field test
  • Legal technicalities 

In the case that you do not qualify for a hardship license or have been turned down for an appeal, read on to know the next steps you must complete to obtain your reinstated license. 

Completing Court-Appointed Mandates

Depending on the severity of your DUI and the state in which you live, the court may levy differing requirements for a reinstated license. But no matter what the reasons are all states do require that the following items are complete before you are able to have your suspended license reinstated.

Serving Any Prison Sentences

Whether your sentence was shortened, commuted, or you have been given a combination of jail time and probation, you will need to complete all court-mandated prison sentencing before you’re able to have your license reinstated.

Completing Community Service

The good news about community service is that you are helping others while helping yourself. The better news for you Ohioans specifically is that a recent bill was just passed in the Senate allowing those with excessive license reinstatement fees to perform community service in lieu of reinstatement fees. Helping local charities will now help you get back on the road legally if you live in Ohio!

Whether you live in Ohio or not, you must complete your mandated community service as a step to regaining your license.

Taking Required Classes 

Classes—while they may seem costly in terms of time or money—are always in your best interest as a DUI offender; and completion of them is always required for getting your reinstated license.

Classes may range from alcohol-safely education to general community-compliance programs to driver’s re-education classes depending on your driving record and the severity of your conviction.

Complying with Counseling Orders

Just like the required classes, you may be mandated for a stay in an alcohol detox and rehabilitation program. Strict as it may seem—if you’ve had a severe or perhaps multiple DUI infringements, being forced to seek treatment may help you take the ultimate step in facing your alcohol addiction or abuse.

Proof of your completed court-mandated treatment is necessary in all states for suspended license reinstatement.

Paying All Fines Required By Court

Your ultimate goal of regaining your license after a DUI violation can only be reached after paying all of the court-appointed fines. Far beyond just the DUI fine per se, are court-related costs that you may not have thought of. The following are some costs you will need to be aware of so that you can budget wisely:

  • General fines/penalties – these are the state-by-state mandatory fines for DUIs
  • Towing/impound fee – upon your arrest, your car will be immediately towed and impounded
  • Court costs – fees the state will charge to hear your case in court
  • Bail costs – if arrested for drunk driving, you should expect to be taken straight to jail and will need to make some provision for your bail, whether paying it yourself, taking out a loan, or paying back a friend or family member
  • Driver responsibility fees – some states demand restitution for DUI arrests/convictions which will be paid directly to the state
  • Urine/blood screening fees – ongoing fees that you will have to pay the state when every screening is performed (These fees will carry over after you reinstate your license  but are listed because it is an ongoing mandate for keeping your license once it has been reinstated.)

Paying Fees for Driver’s License Reinstatement

Once you have paid all of your court fines and other fees, you will need to pay your reinstatement fee for suspended license. These fees also vary by state, so let’s give you a quick list to enable you to budget the payment accordingly:

  • Alabama$250 reinstatement, $150 interlock issuance fee
  • Alaska$200 first offenders, $500 subsequent offenders
  • Arizona$10 reinstatement + application fee
  • Arkansas$150 reinstatement
  • California$55 reinstatement
  • Colorado$95 reinstatement
  • Connecticut$175 reinstatement
  • Delaware$50 reinstatement
  • District of Columbia$95 reinstatement
  • Florida$45 reinstatement
  • Georgia$210 reinstatement
  • HawaiiFees vary by county, generally a $20 reinstatement fee, a Knowledge test and Road skills fee, and a license fee
  • Idaho$25 reinstatement fee, possible $60 for DUI-related restatement, other DUI-specific fees may apply
  • Illinois$70 to $500 depending on the nature of the suspension
  • Indianafees vary based upon offense
  • Iowa$200 reinstatement, may vary due to severity of offense
  • Kansas$100 to $1,000 depending on the number/severity of offenses
  • Kentucky$40 reinstatement
  • Louisiana$100, $200 or $300 depending on the number/severity of offenses
  • Maine$100 reinstatement
  • Marylandfees vary according to the number/severity of offenses 
  • Massachusetts$700-$1200 reinstatement
  • Michigan$85-$125, depending on circumstances
  • Minnesota$20 reinstatement
  • Mississippi$175 reinstatement
  • Missourifees range from $20-$1,500 depending on reason for suspension
  • Montana$100 to $200 reinstatement
  • Nebraska$50 to $100 reinstatement
  • Nevadaapproximately $125 but varies according to number/severity of offenses
  • New Hampshire$100 reinstatement
  • New Jersey$100 reinstatement
  • New Mexicofees vary according to number/severity of offenses
  • New York$50 to $100 reinstatement
  • North Carolina $130 reinstatement
  • North Dakota$100 reinstatement
  • Ohiofees vary according to number/severity of offenses
  • Oklahoma$350 reinstatement
  • Oregon$75 reinstatement
  • Pennsylvaniafees vary according to number/severity of offenses
  • Rhode Island$350 reinstatement
  • South Carolina$100 reinstatement
  • South Dakota$50 to $200 reinstatement
  • Tennesseefees vary according to number/severity of offenses
  • Texasfees vary according to number/severity of offenses
  • Utah$170 reinstatement, plus an additional $65
  • Vermont$73 reinstatement
  • Virginia$100 reinstatement
  • Washington$150 reinstatement
  • West Virginia$50 but varies according to number/severity of offenses
  • Wisconsin$140 reinstatement
  • Wyoming$50 reinstatement

Installing an Ignition Interlock Device

While DUI license-suspension periods vary from 3 months to 2 years, having an ignition interlock device fitted to your vehicle may allow you to shorten the length of suspension time if you are a 2nd or 3rd offender. An ignition interlock device is simply a breathalyzer (a device that measures the blood alcohol concentration in a person’s breath to establish how intoxicated they are) for an individual’s vehicle. It requires the driver to blow into a mouthpiece on the device before starting and/or continuing to operate the vehicle.

Consult a DUI attorney to see if you qualify, and then take the following steps:

  • Have the car breathalyzer professionally installed on your vehicle
  • Fill out and submit your verification-of-installation form to the DMV
  • Complete submit proof of all DWI counseling mandates
  • Provide proof of insurance
  • Pay all court-appointed fees

To guide you in knowing if your state has made such provisions, here is a quick-reference chart of states that may allow ignition interlock devices in lieu of suspension or to shorten your suspension period. 

  • California
    • First offense 
      • Choose between a 6-month interlock device or 1-year license suspension.
      • .15+ BAC or 2 or more traffic violations can result in a year sentence. 
    • Second offense
      • 12 months 
  • Florida 
    • First offense 
      • 6 months if ordered by a judge
      • .15+ BAC is mandatory 6 months
    • Second offense 
      • 12 months
  • Georgia 
    • First offense 
      • 4 months in lieu of license suspension
    • Second offense 
      • 12 months
  • Indiana 
    • First offense 
      • 6 months at the judge’s discretion 
    • Second offense 
      • Depends upon the case
  • Kentucky 
    • First offense 
      • 6 months, if ordered by the court
    • Second offense 
      • 12 months
  • Massachusetts 
    • First offense 
      • Not available for first-time offense
    • Second offense 
      • 2 years 
  • Michigan 
    • First offense 
      • .17+ BAC is 1 year
    • Second offense 
      • 1 year 
  • Minnesota 
    • First offense 
      • .08 – .15 BAC 90 days with an interlock device or 30 day license revocation  
      • .17+ BAC is 1 year
    • Second offense 
      • 1 year 
  • Montana 
    • First offense 
      • 6 months, if judge deems it fit
    • Second offense 
      • 12 months
  • New Jersey 
    • First offense 
      • .15+ BAC is 6-12 months
    • Second offense 
      • 1 – 3 years 
  • North Carolina 
    • First offense 
      • .15+ BAC is 12 months
    • Second offense 
      • 12 months
  • North Dakota – No laws on the books requiring interlock devices for first or second-time offenders. Judges may require that if they wish it, but it is a rare occurrence in North Dakota. 
  • Ohio 
    • First offense 
      • At the judge’s discretion to order an interlock device
    • Second offense 
      • 1 – 4 years 
  • Pennsylvania 
    • First offense 
      • .10 + BAC is 1 year
    • Second offense 
      • 1 year 
  • South Carolina 
    • First offense 
      • .15+ BAC is 6 months 
    • Second offense 
      • Two years
  • South Dakota – Repeat and first-time offenders with a .17+ BAC have the option to have an interlock device installed. 
  • Wisconsin
    • First offense 
      • .15+ BAC is 12 months 
    • Second offense 
      • 12 months
  • Wyoming
    • First offense 
      • .15+ BAC is 6 months 
    • Second offense 
      • 12 months

Obtain Proof of Insurance

Acquiring insurance after a DUI conviction may be the easiest, yet the most financially burdensome step toward obtaining your reinstated license. The DMV will require proof of insurance as a final step to getting you safely and responsibly back on the road.

Unfortunately, with a DUI on your record, you are now considered “high-risk” to auto insurers. Depending on the frequencies or severity of your offense, your insurance fees may increase between 28% and 371% according to national averages. 

In general, our advice is to shop around with the “big guys” or known names in the industry as they have more resources (read: more money) to keep you covered without too much financial strain. 

Online Defensive-Driver Course

One final thing to consider is completing an online defensive-driver course before looking for a new insurance provider. A defensive-driving course is a 6-to-8-hour class you can take to reduce your car insurance rates and possibly points on your license. Though savings will vary from state to state, completing a defensive-driving course typically saves you between 5-15% on car insurance and could mitigate some of your increased premium from having a DUI.

Always Seek Counsel

As soon as you are convicted of a DUI, it is recommended that you seek counsel from a DUI attorney. These experts will help you find the most streamlined, cost-effective, and speedy way to get you safely back on the road. They will navigate you through the rough waters of suspended license reinstatement and give you options you may not be aware of.

Conclusion

Above all, look at each new day as one in which to comply with your sentencing. Take one more step toward license reinstatement and one more step toward your regained independence. Mistakes are a consequence of living, and everyone makes them. Respond well, lean into the learning experience, and reach the other side wiser and better.

We’re rooting for you.

Sources:

Low Cost Interlock. What States Require Ignition Interlock Devices?  https://www.lowcostinterlock.com/ignition-interlock-information/what-states-require-ignition-interlock-devices/

Free Advice Legal. Drunk Driving State Specific Information. https://criminal-law.freeadvice.com/criminal-law/drunk_driving/state/list/

Low Cost Interlock. What is an Ignition Interlock Limited License?  https://www.lowcostinterlock.com/ignition-interlock-information/what-is-an-ignition-interlock-limited-license/

Alcohol.org. The Financial Cost of a DUI. https://www.alcohol.org/dui/financial-cost/

Find Law. Suspended License Reinstatement by State. https://dui.findlaw.com/dui-laws-resources/suspended-license-reinstatement-by-state.html

Low Cost Interlock. Ignition Interlock Device Laws. https://www.lowcostinterlock.com/know-your-rights/

U.S. News & World Report. Bill Subs Community Service for Fines for Ohio Drivers. https://www.usnews.com/news/best-states/ohio/articles/2019-06-02/bill-subs-community-service-for-fines-for-ohio-drivers

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