What Happens When: My License Gets Revoked

A license revocation is a serious thing.

You probably didn’t need an attorney to tell you that. But it’s worth saying anyway, because many people do not understand how serious it is.

A revocation is much more serious than a suspension. A suspension is bad, too, of course. To understand the differences, it makes sense to take a quick spin to dictionary.com for some definitions.

Suspend: "to come to a stop, usually temporarily; cease from operation for a time.”

Revoke: “to take back or withdraw; annul, cancel, or reverse; rescind or repeal.”

It’s right there in the definition. A suspension is a temporary stop. If your license is suspended, you have that license. But for a temporary period, its effect is stopped.

A revocation is a cancelation or reversal of one’s license. After a revocation, that driver does not have her license.

Revocations come with time periods, but it’s important to understand what these really mean. Let’s use two examples, to show the difference between a suspension and a revocation.

Example 1: You are convicted of a high speeding ticket, and a judge suspends your license for 31 days. Even during this 31-day period, you still have a license; it’s just suspended. After those 31 days, your license becomes valid again once you pay the $70 suspension termination fee.

Example 2: You are convicted of operating without insurance. As a result, your license is automatically revoked for six months. During these six months, you do not have a license. After those six months, you are permitted to reapply for your license. You might get your license back soon after this six months ends, or you might not.

After your revocation, you are in some ways the equivalent of a fifteen-year-old applying for her first driver’s license. You must take driver’s education and a road test. You must go through all the paperwork needed to apply for one’s first driver’s license, as opposed to the much more routine paperwork needed to renew a license.

There’s a catch, though. The fifteen-year-old applying for her first license has a clean record. She’ll get a permit and then a probationary license, but she’s never had her license revoked. She will probably get her license with few complications.

The revoked motorist, on the other hand, has a sordid driving history, and the DMV knows this.

A driver’s license is a privilege, not a right.

You have the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. You have the right to vote, to a fair trial, and to own property. You do not have the right to a driver’s license. That means that the DMV can reject your application for a new license after you’ve been revoked. So you’re not at all guaranteed to be driving anytime soon after your revocation. It’s ultimately up to the DMV, which is a state agency, and therefore influenced by politics and countless other factors.

If you’ve been revoked for conduct that the DMV views as especially problematic, it might be quite a while before you get a New York license again, if you ever do.

If you’re facing a revocation, it’s critical that you hire an attorney to make sure you use every possible option in your defense. This punishment is too serious for you to have any less.