Currently, about 1 in 6 Virginia drivers have suspended licenses.
That’s because, as in many states, the Virginia DMV doesn’t automatically lift a suspension after a certain period of time.
Instead, Virginia requires that drivers undergo an expensive reinstatement process.
Fortunately, while meeting the reinstatement requirements can be difficult, the actual process of doing so is rather straightforward.
In this article, we’ll go over the basics of reinstating a Virginia driver’s license.
We’ll also go over common obstacles to reinstatement, and how you can avoid them.
Editor’s Note: A recent budgetary amendment has changed how Virginia treats individuals who have had their licenses suspended due to unpaid court costs and fines. Learn more by reading our article, “Virginia Code Updates for 2019: An Overview of the New Laws.”
Step 1: Access Your Compliance Summary
In most cases, you’ll have to fulfill several different requirements to have your license reinstated.
These can vary depending on how you lost your license in the first place.
For example, a person convicted of DUI may need to undergo a drug and alcohol awareness course.
On the other hand, a person who lost their license due to repeated traffic violations may only have to wait out their suspension period and pay a fine.
To find out your exact requirements, you will need to get access to your compliance summary.
This is a document listing your reinstatement requirements, and whether or not you have fulfilled them.
Fortunately, it’s easy to request a copy of your compliance summary online.
Once you have your compliance summary, it’s time to start completing those requirements.
Step 2: Pay Unpaid Court Costs
Editor’s Note: This section has been updated to reflect the recent budgetary amendment noted above.
Despite a recent change in Virginia’s suspended license laws, it’s still a good idea to pay any outstanding court costs and fines as soon as possible.
The fact that your fees will start to accrue interest after only 40 days can make matters even worse.
If you owe costs to a General District Court (most courts in Virginia), you can even do so online.
Otherwise, you will need to pay through a personal check, money order, or credit card.
You can do so in person, or through the mail by listing your reference case number on the check.
If you don’t know your reference case number, contact the clerk’s office of the court you owe money to.
If you can’t pay the full amount, you can request to set up a payment plan with the court, and that way avoid the accrual of interest.
Step 3: Find Out if You Are Eligible for Restricted Driving Privileges
In most cases, you have to wait a certain period of time before you can reinstate your license.
However, depending on the nature of your conviction, you may be able to apply for restricted driving privileges.
This will allow you to drive under certain circumstances—usually just to get to work, school, or a similar necessary location.
In order to get a restricted license, you need to submit a form to your local courthouse.
A judge will look over this form, and decide whether or not to issue you this type of license.
If the judge doesn’t authorize the request, you’ll have to instead file a petition in the court where you were originally convicted.
This petition will allow you to appear in front of a judge in order to argue your case.
The difficulty of doing so will depend upon both the nature of the conviction and the personal judgement of the judge overseeing your argument.
Needless to say, hiring an experienced DUI or traffic lawyer can make this stressful process significantly easier.
Even if the court decides to provide you with a restricted license, it’s important to remember that your official license is still suspended.
If a police officer catches you driving at a place or time not listed on your restricted license, they may arrest you for driving without a license.
Needless to say, this will result in the loss of your privileges, as well as new charges against you.
Step 4: Provide Proof of Insurance
In order to have your license reinstated, you will need to either:
That’s right—unlike most states, Virginia doesn’t actually require drivers to have insurance.
However, that doesn’t mean that it’s a good idea to drive around without insurance.
Virginia’s uninsured motorist fee provides you with no liability protection.
In other words, if you get into an accident without insurance, you may end up in serious financial and legal trouble.
You are responsible for maintaining your insurance or other proof of financial responsibility for three years.
Your insurance company will let the Virginia DMV know if you cancel your coverage during this time.
Step 5: Provide Other Documentation
The Virginia DMV will require a variety of other documents before they decide on whether or not to reinstate your license.
In most cases, this consists of proof that you have complied with court orders pertaining to your conviction.
For example, you may have to submit proof that you attended a driver improvement clinic.
However, the DMV may also require certain forms of up to date identifying documentation, such as proof of residency.
Step 6: Pay Your Reinstatement Fee
For many people, the final and most daunting aspect of this process is paying the Virginia DMV’s license reinstatement fee.
Your fee can vary between $145 and $220, depending on the reason behind your suspension.
Unfortunately, there’s not much that can be done to reduce this amount. You will need to pay the full amount either in person or online.
Once the Virginia DMV has reinstated your license, your main concern should be keeping it that way.
Virginia law tends to treat repeat offenders quite harshly, and license suspension is no exception.
Repeated suspensions could result in the indefinite suspension your driving privileges.
If you run into trouble during the reinstatement process, don’t hesitate to contact a lawyer.
DUI and traffic attorneys will be happy to provide legal advice tailored for your specific needs.
While this won’t make navigating Virginia’s license suspension laws easy, it may help you avoid some frustration during the process.