Can a record of a prior suspension or revocation be expunged from a NYS driving history?

New York State can suspend or revoke a driver’s license or an out of state licensee’s privilege to drive in New York State for over 100 reasons. While common reasons for a license suspension or revocation are failure to answer tickets, having an auto insurance lapse, or failing to pay fines or assessments, many of them have absolutely nothing to do with driving.

When a license or privileges are suspended or revoked the NYS DMV notes this on the driving record they maintain for you. This information can be accessed by the police officer if you are pulled over, an insurance company, or by an employer. When you clear the suspension or revocation the DMV notes to your driving record the date of clearance. In other words, there is a permanent record of the suspension or revocation period of when you were suspended and when the suspension was lifted.

For those who drive for a living, having a record of a prior suspension or revocation can have devastating consequences, as it may make them ineligible for employment. This is especially so for commercial drivers. As a consequence, our office receives many inquires as to what, if anything, can be done to expunge a record of a prior suspension or revocation.

The short answer is that in some, but not all cases a record of suspension or revocation can be expunged from a driving record.

Whether or not a record of suspension or revocation can be expunged from a record turns on whether the suspension or revocation was done in error, or whether the triggering event of the suspension or revocation is reversed.

If the record of suspension or revocation was a mistake there is an application process a motorist can undertake with the DMV to correct the record. However, if the way to expunge the record of suspension or revocation is to reverse an underlying triggering event it becomes trickier.

If a motorist needs to reverse a triggering event the path to expungement is not through the DMV but through the court or entity that the incident occurred which triggered the suspension. Example: when a motorist accrues 3 speeding convictions within any given 18 month period, a mandatory minimum 6 month revocation is triggered. As a consequence, reversing any of the speeding ticket convictions will result in not only the revocation being immediately lifted, but any record of the prior revocation being expunged.

Another common example is a revocation due to a lapse of auto insurance coverage. Often times the motorist’s insurance did not lapse, but it was the insurance company that dropped the ball in failing to notifying the DMV of a policy renewal. I have also seen it where a person changes companies and the new insurer fails to notify the DMV. When this happens, the path to reverse the revocation and expunge the record of revocation is by working with your insurer. They must advise the NYS DMV’s insurance services unit of the mistake and upon that notification the DMV will lift the revocation as well as expunge the record of revocation.

If the suspension or revocation was not a mistake, or the event that triggered the revocation or suspension cannot be extrinsically reversed, then there is nothing that can be done. In other words, the NYS DMV will not expunge a record of a valid suspension or revocation.

If you or someone you know has a license or NYS driving privilege suspended or revoked, please don’t hesitate to give us a call anytime 24 / 7. Talking to people who have tickets or problems with their license is what we do all day, every day, and we’d be happy to provide you with a no cost, no obligation phone strategy session!