Your driver’s license can be suspended for a number of reasons, from driving violations to failure to pay child support. You may still be able to get car insurance with a suspended license, but it will be expensive and you’ll have to meet certain conditions.

If you don’t currently have a policy and your license is suspended, you can still apply for coverage. But you will have to get a policy from a car insurance company that accepts high-risk drivers – many will not.

You will also need to show that your license suspension is for a short period of time, say, 30 days compared to a year. Once your driving privileges are restored, you will have to show proof of reinstatement to your insurer.

If you have a long-term suspension, you have the option of finding a car insurance company that will allow you to buy a policy with another person named as the primary driver. You would not be listed on the policy until you get your license back.

What are the causes of a suspended license?

Driver’s licenses can be revoked for a number of driving violations – and non-driving violations as well.

Driving violations that can result in license suspension:

  • Reckless or careless driving
  • Failure to comply with implied consent laws
  • DUI
  • Leaving the scene of an accident
  • Drag racing
  • Assault of another motorist, pedestrian, passenger or bicyclist
  • Non-driving violations that can result in driver’s license suspension:
  • Failure to pay child support
  • Drug offense conviction (excluding DUI)
  • Failure to appear in court
  • Failure to pay DMV fees or fines
  • Use of altered/fictitious license plates or driver’s license
  • For minors: Non-DUI alcohol/drug offenses, truancy or juvenile delinquency

Traffic courts typically inform drivers of their suspension prior to the official suspension start date to explain their options.

But you’re probably wondering what to do in case your license was suspended. We’re here to help.

How long does a suspended license stay on your record?

The laws in your state and the reason for your suspension dictate how long the suspension will show up on your driving record.

For example, in New York, a suspension remains on a driver's record for four years from the date the suspension was ended. The DMV uses the year when the suspension ended, not the year in which it began.

What happens if you already have insurance when your license is suspended?

If you are in the middle of your policy term, and your policy does not contain an exclusionary clause for driver suspensions, you likely will remain covered until the end of your term.

Insurance companies usually don’t review your driving record in the middle of your policy term. And there are only a few states that allow midterm cancellations due to a suspended license.

However, you should still contact your insurer and read the fine print of your auto insurance policy. Increasingly, insurers are adding conditions to policies to address the problem of suspended drivers getting behind the wheel.

Typically, it will say that if you don’t report within 60 days that a driver in your household has had his or her license suspended, then that person is not covered by your policy.

Also, bear in mind that car insurance companies usually check your driving record upon the renewal of your policy and may deem you a high-risk driver and refuse to renew your policy when the term is up.

You should be notified if that’s the case. Insurance companies are required to send you a notice informing you that your coverage is to be suspended at some future date, typically at least 30 days out.

SR-22 and suspended licenses

When you do get your license reinstated, you may have to file an SR-22, which is a form that serves as an insurance company’s guarantee to your state that you have the required insurance coverage in place. You will pay much higher car insurance rates because of the offense that triggered the suspension and the SR-22 filing.

To obtain an SR-22, you must go through an auto insurance company that offers the filing (not all do) and buy a policy with at least your state’s minimum limits. Once you have the form filed, you’ll need to maintain the related insurance coverage for the state-mandated period.

What happens to my car while my license is suspended?

If your license will be reinstated before your next policy renewal, you may be able to just keep your car parked until you get your license reinstated.

A long-term suspension typically poses more problems. Insurance companies calculate rates, in part, based on the record of a licensed driver. If you don’t have a license – or at least an imminent reinstatement – you will likely be refused coverage.

Liability car insurance is required for registered cars (except for in New Hampshire) and if you are still making payments on the car, your lender will require that you keep collision and comprehensive coverage on it as well.

One option, if you are still making car payments, is to find an insurance company that will allow you to designate another driver as the primary operator and exclude yourself from coverage. Not every company will do this, but many will.

If you own your car outright and you lack insurance, you should park the car and turn in your license plates. Whatever you do, don’t drive if your license is suspended. Driving without a license is a serious offense.

Check out our guide on Can I get a license in another state if my license is suspended?