Driving with an expired, revoked, or suspended license can get you in a lot of trouble both legally and financially. You could face paying a hefty fine, losing points, having your vehicle impounded, etc. Additionally, you can unwittingly increase your insurance premium, completely null your policy, and even go to jail. So, It goes without saying that you should only drive when your license is valid.
To err on the side of caution, you need to check your driver’s license status from time to time. Luckily, in the 21st century, you don’t have to wait around in long lines and can opt to do everything online. In addition to checking the status of your driver’s license, you can apply for a new one online.
In this article, we’ll talk about checking your status and getting a valid license accordingly. But first, let’s talk about the most important things you should know about the status of your license.
Driver’s License 101
Each state determines how long a license lasts, and the period of validity is typically 5 years. More often than not, you can check the status of your driver’s license online, on the DMV’s website. In some states, you can even find your driving record, number of points, and whether you have any fines due. However, others will only show you the basic info (such as the license status), which can be 1 of 4 things:
Depending on the status, you’ll need to extend your license or apply to get a new one. So, let’s see what you should do in each of these 4 scenarios.
When your license expires, you can choose between paying your state a fee to renew it, or letting it lapse. Additionally, the time you have before your license expires depends on the laws of your state. States usually attach the expiration date to your birthday and can keep your license valid from 4–8 years. However, as this period lasts for 5 years in most states, your license will expire on your birthday 5 years after you get it.
It’s always illegal to drive with an expired license, and you will likely have to face the consequences if a police officer stops you. So, it’s best to renew your license on time to avoid paying a fine or having your license revoked. Many states allow you to do this over the phone or online — for an extra fee. However, if you postpone renewing your license for too long, you’ll have to retake all of your driving tests before getting a new one.
Suspensions are temporary, and they may occur for a number of reasons. The laws and rules often vary from state to state and could include anything from driving under the influence to not showing up in court for a ticket. Additionally, some states will suspend your license if you stop paying for child support, or don’t have proper insurance for your vehicle.
In some states, your license status is based on a point system. The system allows your state to track dangerous and reckless drivers and punish them when necessary. Additionally, accumulating points can be costly, as it may cause your insurance premiums to skyrocket.
Finally, the DMV will suspend your license once you accumulate a certain number of points. In order to make your driver’s license valid again, you’ll have to remedy the situation (by paying the fine for example), as well as an additional fee.
Your state will revoke your license after a more serious or repeated offense. For example, in Illinois, you’ll lose your license if you have 3 moving violations within 12 months. Additionally, you risk having it revoked if you fail to appear in court for a traffic citation. Also, if you’re caught driving with a revoked license — you risk jail time and having your car taken away.
When your license is revoked, the process of getting it back is typically longer, and sometimes even impossible. Luckily, some states allow you to apply to reinstate your license online. For example, in New York, you have to be a member of MyDMV to request getting your license back.
Checking Your License Status Online
When you can’t or don’t feel like going to your DMV office, you can check the status of your license online. You can do this by visiting your state’s DMV website, and going on the “License Status” page. Next, you’ll need to input your personal data, including your driver’s license number. Once you’ve put in all of your info, click on the submit button and the status of your license will appear on the screen.
The information you have to input varies from state to state. For example, in Alabama, you’ll have to provide your driver’s license number, expiration date, and your last name. Florida’s DMV, on the other hand, asks for the last 4 digits of an SSN (Social Security Number) when checking a minor’s driving record. Additionally, Idaho and some other states require your date of birth and allow you to use your SSN if you don’t know your license number.
New York has a slightly different DMV system and requires you to sign up for a MyDMV number to be able to access your information online. To create your account, you have to input your personal info, including the last 4 numbers of your SSN. Additionally, the website allows you to check your driving record, apply to be an organ donor, and restore your license after it has been revoked.
Some states require you to go to your local DMV branch to validate your license. Luckily, there are some alternative ways to get this done. The exact process, documentation, and the time it takes for you to complete it all depends on your state and service provider. To help you get your license quickly, some companies offer third-party records and registries for your driving license.
A third-party company could move things along if you’re in a hurry to have your license ASAP. However, they do charge an additional fee, but it’s well worth it if you want to avoid getting your license suspended or revoked.
Why Should You Check Your License Status and Record?
Checking your license record and status is relevant for several reasons. For one, you need to know the expiration date, so you can plan ahead and not risk facing any penalties for an expired license. Additionally, you could have parking tickets that even you don’t know about, and therefore can’t pay and keep in check. You can also track the number of points you have on your record, to avoid having your license revoked.
Also, insurance providers and potential employers will likely take an interest in your records. For example, employers can check your status, especially if you’re in a position where you need to travel or transport something or someone. Additionally, insurance companies will run checks on you (including your license status) to determine if they’ll increase or decrease your premiums.
You should know the status of your license at all times. Moreover, checking it regularly will ensure you don’t face any penalties or fines as a direct consequence. While driving with an expired license isn’t ideal, it’s easy to extend it and you can even do it online.
However, if your license has been revoked or suspended — you could be in for a world of trouble. Also, keep in mind that it’s much easier to extend a license than it is to salvage a revoked/suspended one. You should also be aware of the fact that other people, such as a future employer or insurance agent, will check your license status and treat you accordingly. So, there could be a lot riding on it, and you need to know where you stand. Finally, because laws vary from state to state, you should visit your particular DMV website for any additional info.