What Happens to Your License After a DWI


The consequences for a DWI can vary depending on the state you live in and your prior history. However, license suspension after a DWI is nearly universal. While many of the potential consequences of DWI do not take effect until after a conviction, suspension of your license may occur immediately after your arrest. If your license is suspended following a DWI, here are some important things you need to know.

Suspension May Be Temporary

Unlike a revocation, which permanently invalidates your current license, a suspension is usually only effective for a temporary term. If this is the case, you will be informed of how long your suspension is effective. Be aware, however, that indefinite suspension is also a possibility.

Cooperation May Help Your Case

If you submit to blood testing at the scene, observe your scheduled court date, and comply with any orders to receive treatment, it can help your case when you try to get your license back. Refusal to submit to a blood test, however, may result in automatic suspension even where it would not be required otherwise. Therefore, it is in your interest to cooperate with law enforcement officials.

You May Receive a Temporary License

Some states, like California, issue you a temporary driver’s license when they take your regular one away. This temporary license expires on your court date. If you have extenuating circumstances that require you to drive for work, it may be possible to receive a hardship license. However, you will need to specifically request one. Even then, you may first have to complete a “hard suspension” during which you are not allowed to drive at all. This hard suspension period may last from 30 to 45 days.

There Is a Process Involved in Getting Your License Back

Before you can get your license back, the court will likely require you to attend a hearing and complete an alcohol treatment program or other requirements. Additionally, you will have to pay reinstatement fees, court fees, and any others that they court may require. You will also need to contact your insurance company and obtain proof of car insurance.

Your History Can Work Against You

For a first-time DWI, your suspension may be relatively short, and the other consequences may be relatively light. Repeat offenses, however, can increase your suspension term and other consequences. Under certain circumstances, such as when someone gets hurt or your BAC is extremely high, even a first-time DWI can be a felony.


Hiring an attorney to represent you may help you avoid conviction and get your license back more quickly. Contact a skilled DWI lawyer, like a DWI lawyer in Fairfax, VA, for more information. 


Thanks to May Law, LLP for their insight into what happens to your license after a DWI.