It’s a day like any other, and you’re out, driving your car, minding your own business. Suddenly, a patrol comes along, pulls you over, and asks for your papers. It’s nothing unusual — until you realize that you haven’t checked recently whether your license is suspended or valid.
Today I am going to make sure that this never happens to you. I will list all the ways you can reliably check the status of your license. And if it turns out that it is indeed suspended, I will give you some suggestions on how to turn that around.
Where and How to Check the Validity of Your License
You can check the validity of your license in many different ways. Some are quicker, others less so, but all will get the job done. I will start with the (potentially) quickest one, then proceed over to the rest.
One thing you should keep in mind here is that the process and details will certainly vary by state. And while I can’t go over each state, I can give you a basic idea of what to expect.
Check Your Status Online
Chances are, your state’s DMV (or Department of Motor Vehicles) has a constant online presence. You should always be able to hop over to its website and see what kind of information is available.
Most states will allow you to check your license status after you’ve successfully verified your identity. However, the exact procedure tends to vary. Some states (Florida, for instance) will only ask for your license number. Others (like Texas) will ask for your full name, date of birth, driver’s license number, and social security number.
As soon as you fill out the online form, you will get to a page with information on your license. Once there, you’ll be able to see whether it’s valid, suspended, expired, or perhaps revoked.
You can find more details on this process here, in one of my older articles.
Give Your DMV a Phone Call
If you prefer a more personal exchange of words, you may opt to give your DMV a call. You will likely get to talk to a representative who will hear you out and ask for some information. This can be your name, date of birth, and license number. Depending on the state, it may be something else entirely.
Once the rep has confirmed your identity, they will tell you the current status of your license. However, keep in mind that they may not be able to give you any additional information over the phone, such as details about its suspension, for instance.
Pay Your DMV a Personal Visit
It may seem outdated now, but there’s no denying the value of a face-to-face exchange of information. Upon arrival, someone will direct you to the right office, wherein you will need to prove your identity. You will do this by presenting a valid legal document. Commonly accepted ones include birth certificates, permanent residence cards, and passports.
A personal visit will often give you more information than you would have gotten otherwise. The rep may readily share in person things that they may have withheld over the phone. If your license is indeed suspended, you will likely get to see some actual paperwork. What’s more, if you want to find out some other details, such as how long the suspension is going to last, this will be the time to ask questions.
Order Your Driving Record
Now, this is a slower option that’ll cost you some money, but it will deliver definite results. Depending on the state you’re in, you should be able to order your driving record online, via post, or in person. However, you will need to wait for the record to arrive, which may take a while.
Regardless, when it does, you’ll be able to get a good bit of information on your license, from its current status to your past suspensions, tickets, and current points. If you want a complete report and know what you’re getting into, then this is the best option for you.
Why They May Have Suspended Your License
The one thing that you won’t want to do in this situation is panic. As far as you know, it may have been a technicality, an administrative error, or a misunderstanding.
This happens more often than you think, and it understandably causes a whole lot of frustration. In this day and age, when living fast is the norm, one can easily forget to check these small yet crucial details. And neglecting this seemingly minor thing can mess up your day in more ways than one.
The DMV may have suspended your license due to a variety of reasons, including:
- Driving under the influence
- Reckless driving
- Previous drug offenses
- Fleeing the scene of an accident
- Missing a court date for whatever reason
- An unpaid vehicle fine, surcharge, or fee
- Failing to keep up with insurance payments
- Not keeping up with child support checks
- Various other reasons depending on your state
And the worst part is that you may not even know that you’ve committed some of these. Sure, getting caught while driving under the influence is something you remember, but you can easily miss court dates by not getting your mail in time.
Regardless of the reason, resolving the situation can get just as frustrating as the situation itself. Therefore, it’s always best to follow the procedure and choose the path of least resistance.
How To Reinstate Your Suspended License
Since your license is suspended and not revoked, you’ll always be able to reinstate it by fulfilling certain requirements. These vary by state and the nature of your suspension, but there is always one thing that you can do to speed everything up:
Get your hands on your suspension notice and read it.
There is a good chance that you never received your suspension notice, especially if you’ve recently moved. Do remember that keeping your address current at the DMV is of vital importance. You ought to do it to avoid any future bumps in the road.
Regardless, you should be able to get your suspension notice in any of the abovementioned ways. In fact, if you’ve personally visited the DMV (and learned of the suspension), chances are that you’ve already gotten a copy. Reading it will tell you the reason(s) behind your suspension and its length, as well as what you can do to shorten or eliminate it entirely.
This may include:
- Paying a fee or fees
- Taking a defensive driving course
- In case of timed suspensions, simply waiting it out
- Resolving any issues that may have caused the suspension, such as paying the late child support
In short, be cooperative and respectful, and the DMV will do everything in its power to help you out.
We’ve come a long way since the times of crowded counters and getting up early just for some information. The Internet has speed things up to the point where everything is available at the click of a button.
With most people using online forms and queries, getting your answers in an old-fashioned way has become much less tedious. If you call an office, chances are that someone will be available. If you arrive with questions in person, a rep will probably be able to see you right away. No method is wrong, and all have their ups and downs.
With such a wide array of options, there’s no real reason or excuse not to stay up to date on the status of your license. Check it from time to time, and you’ll save yourself a whole lot of annoyance.