How to Lose Your License

How to Lose Your License

In the U.S., it’s estimated that about 7 percent of drivers are roaming the roads with a suspended driver’s license, which is illegal and can carry hefty punishments depending on where you live. There are plenty of ways to lose your driver’s license, from accumulating too many speeding tickets to driving under the influence, but you might be surprised to learn that some suspensions have nothing to do with how you drive. In fact, some states use the threat of a suspended driver’s license to hold people accountable for unrelated crimes or misdeeds. Here are six unusual but completely legal reasons why your driver’s license might be suspended.


#1 Unpaid Child Support

States are typically responsible for imposing traffic laws and punishments, but a few federal laws exist. Suspending a license for unpaid child support is one of those laws. Nationwide, if you don’t make your child support payment on time, you could have your license suspended. Federal and state governments take noncustodial parent obligations seriously. Not paying child support could also result in a host of other punishments, including added fines and jail time. If you’re supposed to pay child support, make sure you do it on time and in the right amount to avoid having your license suspended. In Nevada, drivers who miss alimony payments may also have their license suspended.


#2 Skipping School (Truancy)

Most states have laws regarding truancy, which is intentional (and unlawful) absence from school as a minor. If you’re under 18, education is compulsory, which means required, but you don’t necessarily have to attend public school to meet the requirements since states also have different laws on the kind of education kids need. States differ on how they define truancy, and even different districts within the same state have varying guidelines and punishments for students who skip school routinely. One such punishment is license suspension or a delay in getting a license. If you skip school, you might not get a driver’s license, or your current license could be suspended.


#3 Drinking Under the Age Limit

In over half the states, possession or consumption of alcohol by a minor is considered enough to suspend a license. Several states also punish drivers for selling alcohol to minors or buying alcohol for minors. There may be other penalties associated with drinking under the age limit, including jail time or business fines. If you use a false ID to buy alcohol as a minor, your license could also be suspended in eight states. And in Utah, minors can have their license suspended if they’re in a bar.


#4 Gas Theft

There are two types of gas theft: pump theft and personal theft. Pump theft happens when someone pumps gas and drives off without paying. Some states have addressed this by requiring patrons to pre-pay before pumping, thus cutting down on the number of pump thefts. The other form happens when someone siphons gas from someone else’s vehicle. In either case, it’s stealing of personal property, and it’s illegal in every state. Some states are cracking down on gas theft, making it a more serious crime with harsher penalties than regular personal theft would be. Punishment for gas theft depends on where you live, but in 23 states, gas theft can be enough to get your license suspended.


#5 Writing Bad Checks

Writing bad checks isn’t just embarrassing. It’s also illegal, and along with bank fees and other penalties, you could have your license suspended if you bounce a check in 10 states. An honest mistake may not lead to license suspension, but a pattern of writing bad checks or criminal intention would most likely land you before a judge. Before you use a check, make sure you’ve got the funds to cover the cost. You may end up losing more than you bargained for.


#6 Misuse of a Driver’s License

Your driver’s license can be used in a number of ways. You might need it to prove your identity when you’re voting, changing your address or buying alcohol. In 19 states, it’s illegal to use your driver’s license inappropriately. What counts as inappropriate varies by state, but if you’re not using your driver’s license for its intended purposes, then the license could be suspended. Examples may include using an expired license, using a license that isn’t yours or letting someone else use your license illegally.


Bonus: Truly Weird Ways to Lose Your License

If those six reasons weren’t odd enough, then here are a few more outlandish reasons you might have your driver’s license suspended: plotting to overthrow the government, operating an amusement park ride while drunk, failure to submit to genetic testing (in child support cases), flying or boating while intoxicated, burning solid waste, and failure to pay student or college loans.

Of course, many of these violations are state-specific, and laws can change. In any case, you can have your license suspended for a variety of reasons that have nothing to do with how you drive. Keep this in mind whether you’re on or off the road.