Driving on a Suspended License in Alabama
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As in all states, drivers licensed in Alabama who have been convicted of certain driving violations or other offenses may have their driving privileges suspended or revoked. Suspension means that the Director of Public Safety temporarily withdraws your license to drive. (Ala. Code § 32-1-1.1.) Revocation means that the Director of Public Safety terminates your license. To be licensed again, you must apply for a new license after your revocation period ends. (Ala. Code § 32-1-1.1.)
You may be charged with a crime if you drive while your license is suspended or revoked.
Reasons for License Suspension or Revocation
Your license may be suspended for driving-related offenses that include, but are not limited to:
- driving or being in actual physical control of a motor vehicle when your blood alcohol content is above the legal limit
- refusing a test to determine your blood alcohol content, or
- accumulating 12 or more license points in a two-year period. License points may be accumulated by traffic violations such as reckless driving, failure to yield, and speeding. The length of the suspension period depends on the number of accumulated points. (Ala. Code §§ 32-5A-300(a), 32-5-192(c), Ala. Adm. Code 760-X-1-.07.)
Your license may also be suspended for reasons not relating to driving, such as having an unpaid judgment against you. (Ala. Code § 32-7-14.) It may be suspended if you are involved in a motor vehicle accident resulting in death, injury, or more than $500 in damage to property; or if the vehicle in which you are driving does not have liability insurance. (Ala. Code § 32-7-6.)
The Director of Public Safety may also revoke your license for certain convictions, including:
- if ordered by a court, a first conviction for driving under the influence
- a second or subsequent conviction within a five-year period for driving under the influence
- manslaughter or homicide by vehicle
- a felony in which a motor vehicle is used
- failure to stop if you are involved in a motor vehicle accident that results in someone’s death or injury
- making a false statement under oath to the Department of Public Safety relating to the ownership or operation of a motor vehicle
- three convictions for reckless driving within a period of 12 months, and
- unauthorized use of a motor vehicle, even if the conviction is not a felony. (Ala. Code § 32-5A-195(j).)
How Licenses Are Suspended or Revoked
Your license may be suspended or revoked for varying periods of time. Generally the Director of Public Safety may not suspend your license for more than a year. (Ala. Code § 32-5A-195 (m).) You may be able to appeal the suspension or revocation in court. (Ala. Code. § 32-6-47.) If your license is suspended administratively, the Director of Public safety must notify you in writing, and you may request a hearing. (Ala. Code § 32-5A-195 (l).)
Once your license is canceled, suspended, or revoked, you must surrender it by returning it to the Director of Public Safety. (Ala. Code § 32-5A-195 (o).) Refusal to do so is a misdemeanor. (Ala. Code § 32-5A-195 (o).) When your suspension period has ended and your license is reinstated, the Director of Public Safety must return your license to you. (Ala. Code § 32-5A-195(q).)
Ignition Interlock Restricted Licenses
In addition to a period of suspension or revocation, drivers convicted of certain DUI offenses are required to use interlock ignition devices for an additional period of two or more years under a 2011 Alabama law. (Act 2011-613, Alabama Legislature, 2011 Regular Session.) Interlock ignition devices require drivers to blow into a device before operating their vehicle.
No Occupational Restricted Licenses in Alabama
Drivers may be familiar with “occupational restricted licenses,” which allow those with suspended or revoked licenses to drive to work, school, community service, or other specified activities. Alabama does not offer such licenses.
Conditions for Reinstatement
After your suspension or revocation period has ended, you must apply to the Director of Public Safety for reinstatement and pay fees to get your license back. The reinstatement fee is:
- $275 for drug- or alcohol-related offenses
- $175 for other revocations, and
- $100 for other cancellations and suspensions. (Alabama Code § 32-6-17.)
A person whose license was suspended for medical reasons is not required to pay a reinstatement fee. (Alabama Code § 32-6-17.)
Penalties for Driving on a Suspended or Revoked License
Driving with a license that is suspended or revoked is a misdemeanor punishable by a fine between $100 and $500 and up to 180 days in jail. In addition to the fine and other costs, Alabama imposes an additional $50 penalty. (Ala. Code § 32-6-19.) At the discretion of the Director of Public Safety, the driver’s license may be revoked for an additional six months. Under certain conditions, the vehicle driven by the person with the suspended license may be impounded. (Ala. Code § 32-6-19.)
Getting Help When Facing a Charge of Driving on a Suspended or Revoked License
As you have learned, driving after suspension or revocation is a crime that can result in fines, jail time, and other penalties. These are serious consequences that can affect your ability to keep a job, attend school, retain or secure insurance, and generally live your life. The law specifies a range of punishments, but the actual sentence will depend in many cases on how judges and prosecutors in your area view the offense. Only a lawyer familiar with how these cases are handled will be able to give you that information.