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 won’t 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 $750 or less, you need form DL 17 titled: Notice of Unsatisfied Judgment of $750 or less

* If your judgment is for more than $750, 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
Financial Responsibility
Civil Judgment Section
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 for $750 or less and has remained unpaid for 90 days, 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 your judgment is more than $750 and has remained unpaid for 60 days, 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?

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
  • Have the Judge grant you court-ordered installment payments.
  • At the time of the accident the Judgment Debtor had enough insurance coverage to satisfy the judgment.
  • If the Judgment Creditor fails to file the Satisfaction of Judgment.

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: May 19, 2015.