About the only saving grace following a conviction on a charge of DWI, DUI, drug possession, or high speed reckless driving in Virginia is the opportunity to receive a Restricted Operator’s License so that you can continue to drive for a number of necessary, but limited, purposes.
A Virginia Restricted License allows a person to drive to and from their place of business, even during work under certain verifiable conditions; to and from an educational institution; to and from medical facilities for yourself or someone under your care; to and from school or daycare for your children; to and from court-ordered visitation with children; and to and from court-ordered probation or VASAP. In 2010, the General Assembly even added the ability to drive to a place of religious worship one day per week. You can find the entire list of uses of a Restricted License in Section 18.2-271.1(E) of the Code of Virginia.
If you’ve ever received or seen a Restricted License issued in court, you may know that you surrender your physical Driver’s License, and the Court eventually provides you with a two page green form that lists the conditions under which you are permitted to drive with the Restricted License. It lists a start date, as well as an end date. What it also says, which so many people fail to read, is that no earlier than 30 days after you receive the green form, but no later than 60 days, you must physically go to the DMV and provide them with your green form so that they can issue you a shiny new physical driver’s license.
For the remainder of your Restricted License period, you are supposed to not only have that physical license, but you are supposed to keep the green form also, along with any other verification documents that the Judge may have instructed you to carry such as a work schedule. Violating the terms of the Restricted License is serious business—a Class 1 Misdemeanor that carries possible jail time, and the DMV steps in and suspends your license for a full year with no possibility of a Restricted License!
What happens if you forget to go to the DMV in the first 60 days? Your green form expires, and you have to return to the Court to have a new Restricted License issued.
That’s easy enough—if you’re a Virginia resident. But what happens if you’re from another state? Can Virginia suspend your license? No. Virginia suspends your privilege to drive within the boundaries of our Commonwealth. (You should always refer to a legal professional in the state where your license is issued or check with your local Department of Motor Vehicles to determine whether a suspension in Virginia negatively affects you in your home state).
Or better yet, what if you live in Virginia, but you’re in the military or a military dependent and you aren’t required to obtain a Virginia license? What happens to you when you can’t go to the DMV and get a physical license, but you still need to be able to drive in Virginia for one of those necessary purposes listed in the first paragraph above?
The answer is simple enough, but you would be surprised at how many people are unaware of it. In 2010, in addition to adding religious worship to the Restricted License, the General Assembly gave judges the authority to grant Restricted Licenses to out-of-state drivers whose privilege to drive in Virginia is suspended through Virginia Code Section 46.2-398. You just have to make sure that the judge clearly identifies you as an out-of-state driver on your green form, and the form is good for the entire term of your suspension. This impacts in particular active duty servicemembers or their dependents who for one reason or another wish to keep their driver’s license issued in a state other than Virginia.
Suspension of one’s license or privilege to drive in Virginia is supposed to be a punishment—and for those in communities where driving feels as necessary to living as breathing, it is. But don’t panic! A properly applied-for Restricted License can be that lifeline you need to keep that job or stay in school.
The law firm of Livesay & Myers, P.C. has a team of traffic lawyers across offices in Fairfax, Manassas and Fredericksburg, Virginia. If you or a loved one have been charged with a traffic violation, contact us to schedule your free consultation with one of our experienced attorneys today.