a consumer is getting her license suspended by the court to force a payment

Suspending a Driver License to Force Payment

If you win an automobile accident case, you can suspend the Defendant’s driver license if your judgment is not paid.

Suspending a Driver License to Force Payment


If your Judgment is for an automobile accident, you can have the Defendant’s driver license suspended to force payment.

When you win a small claims case, the money the court awards you is called the Judgment. You are the Judgment Creditor. The person who owes you money is the Judgment Debtor.

When can I have a driver license suspended?

If your judgment is for an automobile accident on a California highway and the Judgment Debtor fails to pay, you can ask the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to suspend their California driver license.

Steps to take
To suspend the Judgment Debtor’s driver license, take the following steps:

  • Get the proper form at your local DMV office or online.

* If your judgment is for $1,000 or less ($750 or less for accidents prior to January 1, 2017), you need form DL 17 titled: Notice of Unsatisfied Judgment of $1,000 or less

* If your judgment is for more than $1,000 ($750 or more for accidents prior to January 1, 2017), you need form DL 30 titled: Certificate of Facts Re: Unsatisfied Judgment

  • Fill out the form, take it to the Small Claims Clerk’s Office and have them certify the form.
  • Request a certified copy of the Notice of Entry of Judgment from the clerk. Pay the fee.
  • Mail the completed DMV form and the Notice of Entry of Judgment form to:

Department of Motor Vehicles
ATTN: Civil Judgment, Mail Station J237
P.O. Box 942884
Sacramento, CA 94284-0884

Include a check or money order for the filing fee. (The fee amount is listed on the DMV form.)

How long is the driver’s license suspended?

If your judgment is $1,000 or less and has remained unpaid for 90 days after the judgment became final, the DMV can suspend the license up to 90 days. This only applies to the actual driver of the vehicle and not the registered owner.

If the judgment is more than $1,000 and has remained unpaid, you must wait 30 days after the judgment became final. The DMV can suspend the license of both the driver and registered owner for up to six years. Some exceptions may apply. Speak to a Small Claims Advisor for details.

What happens after I mail the forms?

DMV will give the Judgment Debtor a limited amount of time to pay the judgment. If you are not paid, the DMV will suspend the Judgment Debtor’s driver license for the time period listed above.

I have been paid. What do I do now?

Enter a Satisfaction of Judgment with the court.

After you are paid, take the following steps to remove the suspension:

  • Get a certified copy of the Satisfaction of Judgment from the Small Claims Court Clerk and pay the fee.
  • Mail the certified copy to the Judgment Debtor so they can remove the suspension.

I’m the Judgment Debtor. How do I get my license back?

  • Pay the judgment in full. Get a certified copy of the Satisfaction of Judgment from the court and mail the copy to the DMV.
  • Have the Judge grant you court-ordered installment payments. The debtor must submit a reissue fee, a certified copy of the installment order along with a form, SR-22, filled by the insurance company stating that automobile liability insurance is in effect for the debtor.

You must pay a fee to DMV and provide proof of insurance to have your license reissued. The Notice of Suspension you receive should list this fee.

Court forms are available at California Courts – Forms. Select “Small Claims” from the pull down menu. Forms are also available at the Court Clerk’s office.

County of Los Angeles Department of Consumer and Business Affairs. Last change: April 20, 2018.

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