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What’s the difference between a DWI license suspension and revocation?

On Behalf of | Sep 12, 2023 | DWI

When a New York court convicts a driver either of driving while intoxicated (DWI) or driving while ability impaired by a drug (DWAI), one of the possible penalties is the loss of their driving privileges. The state Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) can either suspend or revoke the driver’s license, and the length of time their privileges remain suspended or revoked depends on the nature of their DWI/DWAI violations.

But what’s the difference between a suspended and a revoked license?

Telling the difference

The main difference between the two is that a license suspension is temporary, while in a revocation the license is canceled and can’t be reinstated.

Regardless of whether the DMV suspended or revoked a driver’s license, they can face criminal charges for operating a vehicle without their driving privileges.

License suspension

If the DMV orders a license suspension for a driver convicted of DWI/DWAI, the driver will receive a suspension order. This order contains details such as why the court issued a suspension order, how long the suspension lasts and any instructions the driver can take to end the suspension.

While a suspension only lasts for a certain period, drivers must still pay a $50 suspension termination fee to reinstate their license. However, that fee grows to $100 if the driver’s license was suspended for violating New York’s Zero Tolerance law (i.e., the driver was under 21 and their blood alcohol content during the charge was between .02% and .07%).

License revocation

The DMV is also responsible for sending drivers a revocation order. A revoked license means the DMV permanently canceled the driver’s privileges, and they’ll have to apply for a new license once the revocation period on the order ends.

But before the driver can get a new license, they must first request approval from the state DMV once the revocation period ends. Once the department grants the request, the driver must retake both the driving and written tests to apply for a new license and pay a reapplication fee.

However, the DMV can turn down a driver’s request for several reasons. Either the driver failed to meet the department’s requirements (i.e., paying all fines related to their DWI offense, serving a court-ordered probation period, etc.) or the DMV has determined that the driver is too high risk to allow reapplication.

Whether it’s a license suspension or revocation, drivers should keep on top of their license penalties or risk losing their right to drive permanently. To avoid further confusion, anyone facing DWI or DWAI charges should consider discussing their case with legal counsel.