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General information about the licence withdrawal driver’s licence withdrawal

In Switzerland, criminal and administrative sanctions are not handed down by the same authorities and are therefore the subject of two separate decisions. However, the administrative sanction (withdrawal of driving license) is generally based on the factual situation retained for the criminal decision (fine, days’ fine etc.). If you wish to object to a license revocation, you must also challenge the criminal decision.

Types of licence withdrawals

In Swiss law, a distinction is made between the withdrawal of a driver’s license and the purpose of the measure. There are three main types of license withdrawals:

1) The punitive withdrawal (or admonitory withdrawal) is the most common type of withdrawal. The purpose of this type of withdrawal is to punish the motorist for committing a traffic violation. This type of withdrawal can be pronounced in particular in the event of speeding or of exceeding the authorized blood alcohol level while driving, but also in the event of loss of control of one’s vehicle.

2) The security withdrawal is the one pronounced by the administrative authorities when they consider that a person is no longer capable of driving. This is particularly the case when a person has health problems or is considered addicted to drugs or alcohol. This type of withdrawal requires that an expertise on the fitness to drive of the person concerned be carried out.

3) The preventive withdrawal of license is a type of withdrawal close to the security withdrawal. As its name indicates, the preventive withdrawal is pronounced preventively, before an expertise is rendered, when there is a doubt about the person’s capacity to drive. This type of withdrawal is ordered when a driver is caught driving while under the influence of drugs or a significant amount of alcohol.

Punitive withdrawal (admonition withdrawal)

The warning

The administrative authority may issue a warning to a driver when:

  1. a minor traffic offense has been committed (LCR 16a ); and
  2. the driver has not been subject to a licence withdrawal or any other measure (including another warning) during the last two years (LCR 16a para. 3).

When a driver commits a second offense punishable by a warning, less than two years after a first warning, a punitive licence withdrawal is pronounced by the authority instead of a warning (LCR 16a para. 2).

Punitive withdrawal of license (withdrawal of admonition)

A punitive licence withdrawal is pronounced by the authority:
– for a minor offense when a warning can no longer be issued (LCR 16a),
– for a moderately serious offense (LCR 16b), or
– for a serious offense (LCR 16c).

The minimum length of licence withdrawal is :
– 1 month for a moderately serious offense (LCR 16b al.2) or for a minor offense in case of a repeat offence within two years (LCR 16a al.2),
– 3 months for a serious offense (LCR 16c),
– 2 years for the offence of hit and run (LCR 16c al. 2 lit. a bis).

You can find more information on the seriousness of the offenseon our pages dedicated tospeeding,drinking and driving and drugs.

The above durations are minimum durations. In principle, it is possible that a withdrawal of a longer duration be pronounced. In addition, if the driver has a history of driving (i.e., it is not his or her first time), this minimum time will be increased. For more information on this subject, you can consult our background guide.

Withdrawal of final license

In the event of a repeat offence, within five years of a minimum two-year licence withdrawal, the authority shall pronounce a definitive licence licence withdrawal LCR 16b al. 2 lit. f LCR 16c para. 2 lit. e, LCR 16d para. 3)

Despite the name, a driver may, five years after a permanent withdrawal and with the permission of the appropriate vehicle department, reapply for a driver’s license. In order to do this, the driver will be treated as a new driver and will be subject to the same requirements as an individual who has never been licensed.

Safety and preventive withdrawal

Security withdrawal

The authorities may withdraw a security clearance (LCR 16d para. 1) if the conditions for granting a driving licence are not or no longer fulfilled. This type of removal is not intended to punish the driver, but rather to protect other road users.

In order for a security withdrawal to be pronounced, an expertise must take place. The purpose of this expertise is to determine the driver’s fitness to drive. During the expertise, the driver has the opportunity to determine himself.

This type of withdrawal can be pronounced when there are problems related to alcohol, drugs and medication. However, it also happens that this type of withdrawal is pronounced because of other causes of inability to drive, especially related to health.

Preventive withdrawal

Preventive withdrawal (LCR 15d), like safety withdrawal, is intended to protect other road users. But unlike the latter, preventive withdrawal can be pronounced when the authority has simple doubts about a driver’s aptitude to drive (i.e. without an expert opinion).

It also means that the driver is not able to determine what withdrawal is made.

This is an indefinite licence withdrawal. Once the assessment is completed, if it is determined that the driver is unfit to drive, a safety withdrawal will be issued. Conversely, if the expert opinion concludes that the driver is fit to drive, the licence withdrawal ends.

A preventive withdrawal is, by law, mandatory when the driver :

  1. Driven despite a blood alcohol content while driving of 1.6 ‰ grams of alcohol per liter of blood (0.8 mg per liter of exhaled air, LCR 15d al. 1 lit. a)or
  2. driving under the influence of drugs (regardless of the amount measured) (LCR 15d para. 1 lit. b).

History and registration of withdrawals

Background

Depending on the offence committed, the driver’s history over the past two, five and ten years is taken into account and may aggravate the licence withdrawal that will be pronounced.

Our penalty assessor can tell you the framework of what you are risking. Our page dedicated to the influence of background will provide you with more details. These are technical and complex issues for which the assistance of a lawyer is often justified. LegalPass can put you in touch with a partner lawyer working at a preferential rate and on a flat fee basis.

Registration of withdrawals and other measures

Driver’s license withdrawals and warnings do not appear on your criminal record.

On the other hand, the Traffic Admission Information System (SIAC, formerly ADMAS) records the various license withdrawals and other measures pronounced by the administrative authorities. Warnings are recorded in the SIAC for five years and licence withdrawals for ten years.

You can apply for a SIAC certificate at your local motor vehicle department:
BE,
FR,
JU,
NE,
VD,
VS.

Would you like to discuss your personal situation with one of our lawyers?

Do you need to be advised and represented by one of our Partner lawyers?


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CH - 1003 Lausanne
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