Can Virginia Suspend my Out-of-State (Non-Virginian) Driver’s License?

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Drivers licenseIf you have an out-of-state driver’s license and are wondering if Virginia can suspend your license to drive, the answer is Virginia can only suspend your privilege to drive in the State of Virginia. The relevant section in VA Code § 46.2-398, states:

For any revocation or suspension of a privilege to drive in Virginia of a person who does not have a Virginia driver’s license but who does have a valid driver’s license from another jurisdiction, the court shall not order the physical surrender of such license.

However, you should be aware that your home state may impose its own penalties when it gets wind of your conviction in Virginia. For example, your home state, be it North Carolina or Florida, may take action when they hear about your Virginia DUI or reckless driving conviction and may suspend or revoke your license, even if Virginia can not do so. In Virginia, those convicted of a DUI face a one year suspension of license (although a restricted license is often given). Those convicted of reckless driving may have their license suspended for up to six months.

It is interesting to note that your home state may impose a harsher penalty than a judge in Virginia may impose. For example, in 2012, a man made the news when he was charged with reckless driving in Virginia for doing 81 in a 70 mph zone in Emporia. A few months later, his Washington D.C. driver’s license was suspended by the DC Department of Motor Vehicles for six months. As the Washington Post article explains, “Under the interstate agreement governing traffic violations, traffic convictions are forwarded to a driver’s home jurisdiction so it can levy appropriate sanctions… [which the DC] DMV duly and without exception translated into the District’s reckless driving sanctions, which are 12 demerit points and an automatic loss of license.”

So the fact that you have an out of state license can be either a good thing or a bad thing if you are charged with reckless driving or a DUI in Virginia, depending on the policies of your home state’s Department of Motor Vehicles or the appropriate government entity of your home state. It may be important to get the best outcome in your traffic matter in Virginia, even if you don’t intend to drive in Virginia in case your home state cares about the conviction and penalty imposed.

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