What is a license suspension?
A license suspension is a temporary hold on your license that prohibits you from legally driving. To lift a license suspension, you must fulfill certain requirements that are outlined by your state's department or bureau of motor vehicles. Your license can be suspended for various reasons like reckless driving, receiving multiple traffic tickets in a short amount of time, failure to show proof of insurance, driving without insurance, and DUIs.
A suspended license is different than a revoked license. If your license has been revoked, it's been permanently canceled. Whether or not you can get a new license will vary by state and the reason your license was revoked.
Do I need car insurance if my license has been suspended?
In most cases, it's a good idea to keep your car insurance when your license is suspended. A few reasons include:
- Insurers don't like gaps in coverage: Insurance companies consider a lapse in coverage to be a red flag because it's often associated with higher risk drivers. While your insurance rate will likely be higher after a license suspension, your rates could go up even further if you have a gap in coverage.
- You may be eligible for a restricted or hardship license: This allows you to legally drive to specific locations, such as work, school, or medical appointments. You must apply for a hardship license with the state, and they'll decide based on your circumstances. If you're granted a restricted license, you'll need car insurance to drive.
- You need insurance to get your license reinstated: Before your license can be reinstated, you'll often have to complete certain steps like paying outstanding fines, completing a defensive driving course, and providing proof of car insurance. Your insurance company may also need to file an SR-22.
- Your loan or lease company requires it: If you have a loan or lease on your vehicle, you'll likely be required to carry insurance to protect their investment.
Even if you're not driving your car, it could still be damaged. Your vehicle could be involved in a hit and run while parked or it could be stolen, vandalized, or destroyed in a fire while sitting in your driveway. If you're not carrying auto insurance while your license is suspended, you'll be responsible for all repairs or replacement of the vehicle. If you are financing or leasing your vehicle, you'll also be in violation of your agreement if it requires you to maintain certain insurance coverages.
What about dropping coverages?
If you're required to carry an SR-22 to get your license reinstated, you won't be able to make changes to your auto liability coverage limits. You may choose to drop optional coverages like comprehensive and collision coverage, but if you leased or financed your vehicle, your lender will still likely require you to carry these specific coverages to protect their investment. To ensure that you are meeting all state and lender requirements, make sure to carefully consider any changes to your insurance policy while your license is suspended.
How difficult is it to get insurance with a suspended license?
It will depend on the reason that your license was suspended and the need to file an SR-22. In many instances, you shouldn't have much difficulty finding car insurance after your license is suspended or if you've had your license reinstated, but it may be more difficult if you're required to submit an SR-22 because many insurance companies don't offer SR-22 filings.
An SR-22 is a form that your insurance company must file with your state's department or bureau of motor vehicles to confirm that you're carrying the required amount of insurance to drive legally. If you fail to make your payments or your policy lapses, your insurer will notify the state and your license will be re-suspended or revoked. If you need an SR-22, let potential insurers known upfront to help narrow down your options.
When do I need an SR-22 to reinstate my license?
It will vary by state. If you've been convicted of a more serious offense like a DUI, reckless driving, or driving without insurance, you'll most likely have to provide an SR-22 to get your license back. In most cases, the state will notify you if you need an SR-22 to get your license reinstated.
Will my insurance rate increase with a suspended license?
Your insurance rate may go up if you have a license suspension in your driving history. How long your suspension impacts your rate will vary based on the reason your license was suspended and how long your state keeps that specific type of violation on their driving records.