Don’t Let Those Traffic Tickets Pile Up: How the DOT Can Pull Your Driver’s License for Multiple Moving Violations

Imagine this scenario: you get a traffic ticket for a failure to correctly use a traffic signal.  You might have failed to signal within the required distance, you might not have.  You could dispute the ticket, but you decide that it’s not worth it to take the time off from work, go to trial, and fight the ticket.  So, you decide to just send the payment in to the clerk of court.  A week or so later, you get a letter in the mail from the Iowa Department of Transportation saying that the DOT is going to take your driver’s license away for 90 days.

What?! Why?! How can they do that just for a failure to use a turn signal? Well, you forgot that you had two speeding violations earlier that year.  Guess what? The DOT has the ability to suspend your license based upon those violations alone.

Many people are unaware that the DOT can suspend your license simply for having a couple of traffic tickets on your record within a certain period of time.  It’s called “Habitual Violator status.”

Under the Iowa Administrative Code, specifically Iowa Administrative Code section 761-615.13(321), the DOT can suspend you for being a “habitual violator” of the traffic laws.  A “Habitual Violator” is defined as a person who has been convicted of three or more moving violations committed within a 12-month period.

If a person is found to be a habitual violator and the DOT intends to suspend a person’s driver’s license, the DOT will suspend as follows:

3 convictions in 12 months 90 days
4 convictions in 12 months 120 days
5 convictions in 12 months 150 days
6 convictions in 12 months 180 days
7 or more convictions in 12 months 1 year


Making matters worse, when you get your license back, the DOT will require you to file proof of SR-22 vehicle insurance, which is often more expensive.

If you find yourself in the situation of facing a possible suspension for habitual violator status, there are steps you can take to potentially avoid a suspension.

First, you can attempt to avoid the suspension altogether by fighting the ticket.  If you win and there’s not a conviction, there will likewise be no license revocation.  Hiring an experienced trial attorney to navigate the trial process is always the first line of defense in avoiding the habitual violator suspension.  Sometimes, based upon the facts and circumstances, an attorney may be able to negotiate a plea to a “non-moving violation” or another violation that would not trigger a license revocation.

Second, if you have already pled guilty to the ticket and are facing the suspension, you or an attorney can file an appeal of the revocation.  It is important to note that the DOT limits the amount of time that you have to get the appeal on file, so pay attention to the deadlines. It’s also important to note that the DOT is not required to suspend.  They have some discretion in the matter.  Based upon mitigating circumstances (factors that weight in your favor), your attorney may be able to advocate for you to complete a driver improvement program, driving probation, or a combination of both in lieu of suspending your license.

Lastly, its important to note that not all traffic violations will cause a revocation.  For example, Iowa has a “right to speed” law, which states that the first two speeding violations within any twelve-month period of ten miles per hour or less over the legal speed limit in speed zones having a speed limit between thirty-four miles per hour and fifty-six miles per hour do not count toward “Habitual Violator” status.

If you think you may be approaching “Habitual Violator” status or have already been served a notice of revocation from the DOT for “Habitual Violator” status, call the attorneys at GRL Law for a free consultation.