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Virginia eases license suspension rules for many drivers

Virginia drivers may find themselves with suspended driver’s licenses for many reasons. The suspension may be the result of a DUI conviction, multiple traffic tickets, driving without insurance or for some, unpaid court fees.

For drivers with unpaid court debt and suspended licenses, Virginia plans to restore driving privileges on July 1. Suspensions due to unpaid court fees have long been a source of frustration for many across both the state and the rest of the country. A suspended license can complicate the ability to get to work, school and more, while driving on a suspended license can risk jail time and other penalties.

Widespread suspensions due to court debt

According to the Washington Post, over seven million people across the country may have suspended or revoked driver’s licenses due to court debt. In a 2016 lawsuit, the Legal Aid Justice Center, representing low-income Virginians, claimed that more than 940,000 across the state had suspended licenses due to unpaid court fees and fines.

In response to this, Governor Ralph Northam announced in March that the state would reinstate driving privileges to those with a suspension solely due to court debt. The state also plans to eliminate the practice of suspending driver’s licenses when a driver fails to pay court costs. This change will affect over 600,000 Virginia drivers.

What drivers need to do

WHSV reports that impacted drivers must follow these steps to reinstate their driving privileges:

  • Update your mailing address with the DMV to avoid delays in receiving notice of your eligibility to reinstate your driving privileges
  • Go to the DMV as usual and complete the process for applying for your license
  • Complete other requirements as needed, such as providing further identification, proof of legal residence or more
  • Complete testing only as needed, such as if no evidence exists of ever having a license or if your license was revoked

Due to how many Virginians this affects, DMV locations across the state may be much busier than usual during the summer months. Drivers have until July 2020 to restore their licenses.

For those facing a driver’s license suspension due to factors beyond court debt, consider your options to contest the suspension. A suspension can lead to complications with your employment, auto insurance and more. Discuss your situation with an attorney to learn your options for fighting or minimizing the suspension to retain your privilege to drive.

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