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Can I Get my Driver’s License Reinstated after a DUI?

Posted by John A. Kassabian | Apr 09, 2020 | 0 Comments

Photo by Cristofer Jeschke on Unsplash

While jail time, expensive fines, and a criminal record are some terrible repercussions after a DUI, for many people the worst part of a conviction is losing their driver's license. While fines can be paid and jail time isn't forever, a license suspension, even for a short period of time, can drastically impact your everyday life.

Not having a license creates serious struggles: preventing you from traveling to and from work, picking up your kids from school, and doing basic everyday errands that are essential to running your household. For many Virginians, the situation goes beyond being an inconvenience, especially if driving is a part of their job. Job loss and struggling to be hired are real concerns faced every day by people who have had their licenses suspended after a DUI in Virginia. 

One of the most common questions I get in my practice is whether or not it's possible to get your license reinstated after a DUI. The answer is yes, but it depends on the specifics of your case. For an accurate answer to this question for your specific circumstances, it is best to get in touch with a Fairfax DUI attorney. I'll tell you more about license reinstatement and when it may be a possibility for you below.

Factors Affecting License Reinstatement

Almost anyone who has been charged with driving under the influence wants to know what to do after a charge and how to avoid license suspension after DUI charges. The single most important factor affecting license reinstatement after a Virginia DUI is whether or not you have been previously convicted of a DUI. In addition, if your DUI resulted in a serious accident or property damage, or if you have other criminal charges against you, these may play a role. DUI license suspension length also depends on whether it is your first, second, or third offense or beyond. Here are some common scenarios and how reinstatement works in each:

First Offense DUI License Reinstatement

After being convicted of a first offense DUI in Virginia, you can immediately petition the court for a license with restrictions. With a restricted license, driving is restricted to  travel purposes only as set forth by Virginia Code to include: travel to and from your primary place of employment; enrollment in the Virginia Alcohol Safety Action Program (VASAP); during working hours if such travel is necessary for your employment; travel to and from school if you are a student; health care services to include medically necessary needs; travel necessary to transport minor children under your care to and from school, day care, and medical facilities; court ordered visitation; travel to and from court appearances; to and from religious worship one day a week; appointments approved by the Division of Child Support Enforcement of the Department of Social Services; travel to and from jail to serve a sentence; travel to and from the facility that installed or monitored the ignition interlock device installed in your vehicle; and travel to and from a job interview with written proof of the interview from the prospective employer.

Unfortunately, no restricted license will be issued to permit a person to operate a commercial motor vehicle as defined in the Virginia Commercial Driver's License Act.   

Another expensive issue you will face with a restricted license is that you will be required by law to install an ignition interlock device in the vehicle that is owned by or registered to you. (This is a DUI penalty for anyone convicted of a DUI in Virginia.) As you are likely aware, these devices prevent you from starting your car unless your breath is free of alcohol. While ignition interlock devices are effective in ensuring that you stay safe behind the wheel, they are also expensive to install and maintain. You will be required to have the ignition interlock device installed in your vehicle for not less than six consecutive months without any alcohol related violations of the ignition interlock requirements.     

Eventually, you will be able to get full and unrestricted driving privileges. After a first offense, full privileges cannot be reinstated until the suspension period of 12 months has passed. To get your license back, you must also 1) show proof that you've paid all of your court costs and other fines, 2) produce an SR22 certificate of financial responsibility from your insurer, 3) complete the Virginia Alcohol Safety Action Program (VASAP); and 4) have had the ignition interlock device installed on your vehicle for a minimum of 6 months without any interlock violations. Finally, 5) you will have to pay DMV license reinstatement fees.

If it is your first offense DUI in Virginia, but you have a criminal record or other serious traffic offenses on your record, working with a DUI attorney in Fairfax may help you achieve an improved outcome for your case.

Second and Third Offense License Reinstatement

If this is your second DUI within 5 years, under Virginia Code 18.2-271.1(E),  you must wait one year after your conviction to apply for a restricted license. If your second DUI is within 10 years of your first, you can apply for a restricted license after four months. To have your license fully reinstated without restrictions after your second Virginia DUI, you will need to wait out the suspension period, which is typically three years. Beyond this, you will have to complete the same steps as you did for your first DUI to get your license back.

For a third DUI, your driver's license will be suspended indefinitely. However, after three years you can petition for a restricted license and after five years you can petition to have your full driving privileges reinstated. This is known as license restoration, and can be considerably more difficult to achieve successfully than the much-simpler license reinstatement. Again, you will need to do everything described under first offense DUIs, and install an ignition interlock device for anywhere from six months to three years. You will also have to go through a detailed ASAP Evaluation, petition Circuit Court for restricted or full restoration privileges, retake your driver's license test, including both the driving and written tests.

When to Work with a Fairfax DUI Lawyer

If you are facing the loss of your license after a DUI, it is important that you get it back as soon as possible. If you are fighting a DUI conviction, Kassabian & Kassabian may be able to help you keep your license while avoiding a criminal record. Criminal defense attorney John Kassabian has extensive experience in successful DUI defense and may be able to help you, too.

Get in touch to tell him more about your case today at (703) 750-3622.

About the Author

John A. Kassabian

John A. Kassabian joined the family firm in 2002 after having served as a Prosecutor in Fairfax County and Prince William County. Specializing in criminal defense, traffic defense and civil related matters, John has an extensive criminal law background and has handled a wide variety of cases for ...


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