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Below is an overview of some driver's license issues in Minnesota. Read through our Definitions tab for commonly used words related to driver's license issues, and read through our Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) for more information.

Driving privileges may be impacted or restricted in a number of different ways. One common restriction is suspension of a driver’s license. 

A driver’s license suspension is when a person’s driving privileges are taken away for a temporary period of time. This means that the driver’s license is not valid and a person cannot legally drive during the period of suspension.

There are a number of reasons that someone’s driver’s license may be suspended, including unpaid child support, an unpaid judgment resulting from an incident with an uninsured vehicle, traffic tickets or criminal cases, among other things.

Canceled Driver’s License

When a person’s driving privileges have been taken away and they do not have a right to a driver’s license nor the right to drive. This could happen for a variety of reasons, such as being unable to pass a driver’s test through the Department of Public Safety, committing a crime that resulted in cancellation of the driver’s license, or not qualifying for a driver’s license under MN law. A person cannot legally drive while their license is canceled.

Civil Judgment

A final court order in a civil lawsuit. A civil judgment may include an amount of money to be paid by one party to the other party.
 

Expired Driver’s License

A driver's license that has passed its expiration date without being renewed. Driver’s licenses are valid for a specific period of time. A license expires at the end of this time period and drivers are responsible for renewing their licenses on or before the expiration date. A driver’s license is not valid past the expiration date and a person cannot legally drive while their license is expired.
 

Implied Consent

The ability of the MN Department of Public Safety (Driver and Vehicle Services) to revoke your driver’s license. They can revoke your driver’s license if you were found to be driving, and you failed or refused to take the test to check for drugs or alcohol in your system.

Limited License

A driver’s license with limited driving privileges. For example: the license only allows the driver to drive on certain days and for a limited amount of hours per week.

Minnesota Department of Public Safety

The state department that oversees driver’s licenses. Driver and Vehicle Services Division is an office within the Department of Public Safety.

Revoked Driver’s License

When a person’s driving privileges have been taken away. A person cannot legally drive while their license is revoked. This may happen because of a drug or alcohol related offense or other traffic or criminal offense. In order to get driving privileges back (also called “reinstated”), there may be a number of steps to go through, including following court orders, paying fees, taking a test through the Department of Public Safety, or following through with other requirements.

Suspended Driver’s License

When a person’s driving privileges are taken away for a temporary period of time. A person cannot legally drive while their license is suspended. Depending on the reason for the suspension, the license may be reinstated after the suspension period ends and fees are paid, or after the person takes some action, like paying off child support or traffic tickets.

How do I check the status of my driver’s license?

You can check the status of your driver’s license by contacting the MN Department of Public Safety – Driver and Vehicle Services Division online, by phone, or at a local driver and vehicle services location.

How do I find out what is on my driving record?

Driving records are separate from court records. You can make a request for a driving record through the MN Department of Public Safety – Driver and Vehicle Services Division. Court records can be accessed online or by visiting the records center at your local courthouse.

Why was my license suspended?

There are a number of reasons why a driver’s license may be suspended, including past due child support or spousal maintenance, unpaid civil judgments, or other reasons related to traffic citations or criminal violations. Check any documents you have about the suspension; often MN laws are provided to give you a reason for the suspension. The MN Department of Public Safety’s Driver and Vehicle Services Division may be able to tell you why your license is suspended.

Can I ask that the other parent’s license be suspended for not paying child support or spousal maintenance?

Yes, under MN law, a parent can ask the court to suspend the other parent’s driver’s license for not paying child support or spousal maintenance in certain situations. See Minn. Stat. § 518A.65 (a). The court does not publish forms for this specific request. You might find forms at your local law library or you can talk with a lawyer.

I received a Notice of Intent to Suspend Driver’s License from the Child Support Office. What does this mean?

This is a notice that the child support office sends out when they plan to ask the MN Department of Public Safety to suspend a parent’s driver’s license because that parent is behind on child support payments. Usually the notice is sent when a parent is at least three months behind on support payments. If you receive this notice, you may call your child support worker to see if you can agree to a payment plan to stop the license suspension. If you are not sure who your child support worker is, you can search for the phone number for your local child support office.

How do I contact the child support office?

Contact the child support worker assigned to your case.  You can look up local county child support offices through the MN Department of Human Services.

Can I ask for a hearing before a Judge to discuss the license suspension for child support?

Yes. Within 30 days of the date of the Notice of Intent to Suspend Driver’s License, you can ask for a hearing by sending a letter to the child support office involved in your case.

My license was suspended because of unpaid child support. What can I do?

If the county child support office is part of your case, you may be able to agree to a payment plan with them to get your driver’s license back. Contact your child support worker to set up a payment agreement. If you are unable to get a payment agreement, you could file a Motion to Reinstate Driver's License. However, if the county is NOT involved in your case, the MN Judicial Branch does NOT have license reinstatement forms for your type of case. You might find forms at your local law library or talk with a lawyer

If you want to ask the court to reinstate your driver’s license AND to modify (change) your child support, you can ask for both in a Motion to Modify Child Support. See the Child Support Help Topic for forms and more information.

Is there a way to ask for temporary driving privileges if my license was suspended because of child support?

You may ask for a limited license by submitting an application for a limited license to the MN Department of Public Safety. A limited license is valid for 90 days and only issued one time. The MN Department of Public Safety determines whether you qualify for a limited license.

How does a civil judgment affect my driver’s license?

If you do not have insurance on your vehicle and you get into an accident, for example, you may be responsible for paying for damages. This could result in a civil judgment against you. If you do not pay the judgment, then the other party can request that your driver’s license be suspended until the money is paid or until the judgment expires. See Minn. Stat. § 171.182.

How do I know if there is a judgment against me?

You can search court records for your name to see if a judgment exists. You may have received paperwork to notify you that someone was seeking money from you.

My license was suspended because of a civil judgment. What can I do?

If your driver's license was suspended because of a civil judgment, there may be a few options you could consider:
  To decide which option or options may be best for you, you may want to talk to a lawyer.

I did not know there was a civil judgment against me. Can I still challenge it?

If you did not receive paperwork about the lawsuit or there were other problems, there may be ways to ask the Court for another chance to give your side of the story. This can be complicated and only available in certain situations. It would be helpful to talk to a lawyer about your case.

My license was suspended because of a ticket, what can I do?

If the ticket was not paid and went to collections, you may contact the MN Department of Revenue to pay the citation.

If a guilty plea has been entered on the ticket (because the ticket was paid or because it went unpaid for a period of time), you could file a motion to withdraw a guilty plea to ask the court to reopen your case. This is available for petty misdemeanor (minor) offenses.    

If it has not been very long since you got the ticket, you may be able to ask for a hearing in front of a hearing officer or the court to contest the ticket and maybe avoid a license suspension. See the Contest a Citation Help Topic for more information.

It may be helpful to visit your local law library or to talk to a lawyer about what option is best in your situation.

Can a criminal case affect my driver’s license?

In addition to minor citations, a driver’s license could be suspended, revoked, or canceled by more serious traffic and criminal violations, such as driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol or failing or refusing a chemical test (called "implied consent"). Those types of violations can also result in the motor vehicle or other property being seized, and the license plates being impounded. See the Forfeiture and Impoundment Help Topic for more information.

The Court does not have forms to contest the suspension or revocation of a driver’s license in these situations, so it may be helpful to visit your local law library, talk to a lawyer, or contact the Driver and Vehicle Services division of the MN Department of Public Safety. 
The forms needed to request reinstatement of a driver’s license depend on the reason for the suspension.
 
  • Unpaid Child Support: Motion to Reinstate Driver's License (child support)
    • These forms are only to be used when the child support office is involved in the case. The MN Judicial Branch does not publish forms for cases where the child support office is not involved. Check with your local law library or talk to a lawyer in those situations.
  • Implied Consent: The MN Judicial Branch does not publish forms for an implied consent petition. Check with your local law library or talk to a lawyer in those situations.
  • Reasons other than Unpaid Child Support or Implied Consent: Petition to Reinstate Driver's License
The following is a list of some of the laws and rules that relate to drivers’ license issues. We encourage you to talk to a lawyer to get advice on how the laws and rules may affect your case. Learn more about Laws, Rules & Legal Research.
  You can get more help with your legal research at law libraries throughout Minnesota. County law libraries are open to the public, but hours will vary. Click MN County Law Libraries to see a directory of law libraries and their hours. You may also be able to get help with legal research from the State Law Library.

Talk with a lawyer to learn how the laws and rules may affect your case.