There are several instances in which filing for bankruptcy can help you regain your driver’s license. In the state of Florida, if you are driving without insurance and you are involved in a car accident the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DHSMW) may suspend your driver’s license. However, filing for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 Bankruptcy can sometimes help remedy this situation. If you injure someone or damage their property while driving uninsured, the other driver or interested party can sue you and get a judgment for damages arising out of the accident. The court will order you to satisfy that judgment in a limited amount of time, otherwise your license may be suspended until you are able to pay the judgement or the debt in full.
The U.S. Supreme court in the case of Perez v. Campbell, 402 U.S. 637 (1971) specified “if the debt that caused the suspension of the license was discharged in a bankruptcy, then the license reinstatement could not be denied.”
In other words, if the state suspended or revoked your license for failure to pay a judgment from a motor vehicle accident while driving uninsured, by filing for bankruptcy you can discharge that debt, and have your driver’s license reinstated.
Failure to pay any issued parking tickets can also lead to your driver’s license being suspended. Parking tickets are a non-dischargeable debt which must be paid in full to the issuing government agency. However, if you file Chapter 13, you can pay this debt under a payment plan over a period of three to five years. Also, child support and alimony payments are non-dischargeable debts that must be paid in full before your driver’s license can be reinstated. In both situations, an option is to file a Chapter 13 bankruptcy where you make monthly payments to pay off the non-dischargeable debt. Furthermore, if you present evidence to the Department of Motor Vehicles (“DMV”) that you are making payments on your Chapter 13 plan, the DMW may be able to release your license before obtaining a discharge of your bankruptcy.
In some cases, though, filing for Bankruptcy will not reverse the suspension of your driver’s license. Bankruptcy Code, 11 U.S.C. § 523(a)(9), states that if you cause a person injury while driving under the influence of alcohol (“DUI”), and you were involved in an accident, the DMW will not release the suspension of your driver’s license until monetary judgment is satisfied. Any punitive damages or restitution ordered by the court related to a DUI will not be dischargeable under bankruptcy.
Additionally, under 11 U.S.C. § 523 (a)(6), when you willfully and maliciously cause injury or damages to another person or entity, this debt may not be dischargeable and filing for bankruptcy will not provide a solution to the suspension of your license.
In conclusion, if the reason for the suspension of your driver’s license is a debt dischargeable under bankruptcy law, often times you don’t have to wait until the bankruptcy is completed to have your license reinstated. You must show the DMW that your debts are included in your bankruptcy petition to have the DMV release your driver’s license. If your license has been suspended, you will need to apply for license reinstatement with the DMW, provide proof of current and active insurance, and you pay a fee to have your license reinstated.
Weller Legal Group has legal experienced bankruptcy attorneys who can evaluate your options and provide the best advise on how to proceed. If applicable to your situation, we can help you reinstate your driver’s license by contacting the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DHSMW) after filing your bankruptcy.
Image credit: Ion Chiosea