A driver’s license can be suspended or revoked in Virginia by the court, the DMV, or the Department of Social Services (for failure to pay child support).  If a driver is suspended or revoked in another state, he must comply with that state’s licensing requirements and get reinstated in the other state if he was suspended before obtaining a Virginia driver’s license. Because of the National Driving Registry, Virginia law enforcement will likely be aware of out-of-state suspensions. Driving in violation of any of these suspensions or revocations can result in a driving on suspended or revoked license charge under Va. Code §46.2-301. If convicted, the penalty can include jail time and further license suspension.

Driver’s License Suspension in Virginia

Driver’s license suspension in Virginia is a temporary withdrawal of a person’s privilege to operate a motor vehicle in Virginia.  One doesn’t have to have ever had a license to have a suspension imposed on their privilege to drive.  There are several reasons a driver’s license (or privilege to drive) can be suspended in Virginia, including:

  • Failure to pay tickets, fines and court costs
  • Failure to maintain proper insurance or pay the uninsured motorist fee (DMV imposed fee if car is uninsured)
  • Rapid DMV point accumulation
  • Failure to pay child support (See Va. Code section §46.2-320.1)
  • Failure to complete a required driver improvement clinic
  • Failure to pay a judgment related to an accident
  • A physical or mental condition that impairs a person’s ability to safely operate a motor vehicle
  • Convictions for motor vehicle violations, including
  • Convictions for non-motor vehicle violations, including underage possession of alcohol

Driver’s License Revocation in Virginia

Driver’s license revocation in Virginia is the termination of a person’s privilege to operate a motor vehicle in Virginia.  A driver’s license may be revoked in Virginia for:

  • Taking a driver’s license test for another person
  • Appearing for another person to renew his or her license
  • Providing false information to obtain a driver’s license
  • Making bomb threats
  • Three demerit point convictions committed by an offender while under the age of 18
  • Motor vehicle convictions, including
    • Multiple DUI/DWI convictions
    • Driving while Suspended or Revoked as a result of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs
    • Voluntary or Involuntary Manslaughter while driving a motor vehicle
    • Hit and Run
    • Felony violations committed using a motor vehicle, and
  • Non-motor vehicle related drug convictions

If a driver’s license is initially revoked for a DUI-related offense and the driver is later caught driving or operating a motor vehicle during his revocation period, he will be charged with driving on a revoked license under Va. Code §18.2-272, which carries more severe penalties than a suspension charge. The offender will also likely face a probation violation charge from the court if he was violating the law during the period of probation.

What does the prosecutor have to prove?

To be convicted of driving on a suspended or revoked license charge under Va. Code §46.2-301, the Commonwealth must prove:

  1. The Offender Drove a Motor Vehicle: The offender must drive a motor vehicle on a public highway to be convicted of a Virginia driving on suspended license charge.

    • A motor vehicle is defined in Va. Code §46.2-100 as “every vehicle as defined in this section that is self-propelled or designed for self-propulsion except as otherwise provided in this title. Any structure designed, used, or maintained primarily to be loaded on or affixed to a motor vehicle to provide a mobile dwelling, sleeping place, office, or commercial space shall be considered a part of a motor vehicle. Except as otherwise provided, for the purposes of this title, any device herein defined as a bicycle, electric personal assistive mobility device, electric power-assisted bicycle, or moped shall be deemed not to be a motor vehicle.”
    • Highway is defined in Va. Code §46.2-100 as “the entire width between the boundary lines of every way or place open to the use of the public for purposes of vehicular travel in the Commonwealth, including the streets and alleys, and, for law-enforcement purposes, (i) the entire width between the boundary lines of all private roads or private streets that have been specifically designated “highways” by an ordinance adopted by the governing body of the county, city, or town in which such private roads or streets are located and (ii) the entire width between the boundary lines of every way or place used for purposes of vehicular travel on any property owned, leased, or controlled by the United States government and located in the Commonwealth.”
  2. The Driver’s License was Suspended or Revoked: The Commonwealth must prove the driver’s license or privilege to drive was actually suspended or revoked.  The prosecutor will typically prove this element by introducing the offender’s driving record.
  3. The Driver Had Knowledge That License was Suspended or Revoked: The Commonwealth must also prove that the offender knew that his license or privilege to drive was suspended or revoked.   The clerk’s official notice of suspension for failure to pay fines and costs provided at the time of conviction can be used as proof of notice (Va. Code §46.2-395(C), Va. Code §46.2-301(B)).  There is also a rebuttable presumption the driver received notice of the suspension when the DMV sent him notice by certified mail. Proof of mailing is indicated on the offender’s Virginia driving record. Further, if the driver admits he knew he was suspended, such statements can be used against him in court to prove the knowledge element.

Vehicle Impoundment

A driver’s vehicle may be impounded when charged with driving on suspended or revoked license under Va. Code §46.2-301, depending on the original reason for his license suspension. These reasons include:

  • DUI (Va. Code 18.2-266), DUI Maiming (Va. Code §18.2-51.4), or Commercial Driver DUI (Va. Code §46.2-341.24)
  • Driving after being declared an habitual offender (based on an alcohol-related offense), or
  • Breathalyzer Refusal (Va. Code 18.2-268,3) or Commercial Driver Breathalyzer Refusal (Va. Code §46.2-341.26:3)


Driving on suspended or revoked license charge (Va. Code §46.2-301) is a Class 1 misdemeanor, punished with up to 12 months in jail, a fine up to $2500, and 6 DMV demerit points. Additionally, the court will impose a period of suspension that mirrors the original suspension. If the original suspension was for an indefinite period (like for failure to pay fines and costs), the driver’s license can still be suspended up to 90 days.  This suspension period will not begin until the prior suspension period ends.

A third offense driving on a revoked license (DUI related) under Va. Code §18.2-272 is a Class 6 felony, punished with up to 5 years in prison.  A third offense driving on a suspended or revoked license under Va. Code §46.2-301 is a misdemeanor punished with a mandatory minimum of 10 days in jail.

Collateral Consequences

Beyond the immediate penalties associated with a conviction for driving on suspended or revoked license, other repercussions are at play.  Insurance premiums are likely to increase if convicted.  Your education or employment opportunities may be hindered: if you are subject to a background check for employment, security clearance, or immigration, a conviction could affect your future.

If you find yourself charged with driving on suspended or revoked license in Virginia, contact an experienced Virginia  attorney. An initial consultation with a TATE BYWATER attorney is complimentary.  We’ll discuss your case and work with you to obtain the best possible outcome.  We’re here to help!