Why is there a hold on my license?

May 2020

Jeff McConnell and James Mennella


We get a lot of calls about driving records, aka the motor vehicle records, with requests to either try to remove convictions, figure out why someone is being disqualified or suspended, why there is a hold on a license, or why they can’t qualify for liability insurance.

An OOIDA member recently had a situation where his license was not renewable because of several prior unpaid citations.

Q: I can’t renew my license in Illinois because my license is currently suspended from out of state. Can you help me with this problem?

A: Yes. In a situation like this, we conduct what we call a motor vehicle records review in order to determine why you are suspended, what can be done to fix the problem, and if there are numerous violations whether we can prevent you from being suspended or disqualified once the violations are addressed.

Q: Great. How long will this take?

A: The more information we have, the quicker we can get started on trying to solve the problem. In your case, your record shows that there is an unpaid citation in Georgia from 2018. When you didn’t pay or contact the court to set up a hearing, the clerk defaulted you and sent a suspension request to your licensing state.

To compound the issue, the court also entered a bench warrant for “failure to appear.” This complicates the issue, because in some states you can’t just pay the outstanding citation and have the bench warrant recalled or pay a fine for the “failure to appear” warrant.

Worst-case scenario, the court will make you turn yourself in to be processed on the outstanding bench warrant, which will generally require you to pre-plan with a bail bondsman or to pay cash to get released before your next court date.

Q: I also have an old ticket somewhere in Oklahoma that I forgot about, but it is not on my motor vehicle record. Can you find it?

A: If you don’t know where you received the citation, and it is not showing up on your motor vehicle record, then it can be difficult to find the origin of the problem. If we are lucky and can find a helpful agent at the Department of Public Safety, there is a chance they may have a record of a suspension request from the court that you failed to respond to. If the court did not send any information to the Department of Public Safety, then it is going to be very difficult to find where the original citation is from without further help from you and where in the state you may have been issued the citation.

Due to the age of your violations, even if we can find the citations, there is not a good chance of amending any of the underlying violations, other than possibly having a failure to appear warrant dismissed.

Further, since your driver license was suspended, that information will continue to appear on your motor vehicle record. Also, each state that suspended your operating privilege, will require that you pay a reinstatement fee in order to reinstate your privileges in that state. The only way to prevent this in the future is to address the outstanding tickets when you first receive the suspension notice and correct the problem before the suspension date listed on the notice. LL

Send any questions or comments regarding transportation law to: Jeff McConnell and James Mennella, Road Law, 3441 W. Memorial, Suite 4, Oklahoma City, OK 73134; call 405-242-2030, fax 888-588-8983, or contact us via RoadLaw.net.

This column is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the opinions of Land Line Magazine or its publisher. Please remember everyone’s legal situation is different. Consult with an attorney for specific advice on your situation.

Read the previous edition of Road Law here.

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