I’m sure we can all reminisce the sense of jubilation and pride when getting our drivers licenses for the first time. For me, anyway, it felt like I was able to enjoy a greater sense of freedom than ever before. Just me, my car, and the long, empty stretch of road ahead, with no end in sight. Perhaps, I had been driving for much longer than anticipated, as I’m now wondering how to check drivers license status.
It’s more than possible that one can have too much fun, to a point where they’d forget to renew their drivers license. Or, you might have been too exuberant with your driving, or have committed a felony. In any case, there could be a myriad of reasons why your drivers license may not be active anymore. If you’re keen to get back on the road again, here are some tips on how to check drivers license status…
Why Should You Need To Check Your Drivers License Status?
As we’ve mentioned earlier, there could be many reasons why you’d be curious to want to check your drivers license status. It may be that your license has expired, and requires renewal. Or, the DMV or authorities have the right to suspend or revoke your license if they find a good reason to. For instance, being caught driving recklessly or breaking the law. Hence, why it’s always a good idea to check.
So, before we take a peek at how you too can check your drivers license status, we’ll take a look at the many ways in which your license would no longer be valid. This way, you can at least be more aware of what needs to be done after you’ve checked your drivers license status. The most common reason why is when the expiry date on your license has elapsed or is quite close to expiring.
1. Check Drivers License Status – Expired Or Is Close To Expiring
Unlike many other countries around the world, the laws governing how long a drivers license can last is quite complicated here. In the US, drivers licenses are issued on a state-by-state basis. There are some exceptions, where a federally-issued drivers license may be doled out. This includes licenses for members of the military, US government officials and staff, as well as foreign dignitaries and officials.
Otherwise, the registration and issuance of your particular drivers license will be dependent on which state you reside in. The good news, for those not in the know, is that one state’s license doesn’t mean that you somehow can’t drive in another state. Drivers licenses across all states are standardized and recognized. With that in mind, each state also has varying expiry dates set for their drivers licenses.
For example, some states, like Arizona, have drivers licenses that don’t expire at all until you’re aged 65 and above. At which point, you’ll have to renew at regular renewals. In California, the licenses will be valid for 4 years since the time of issuance. And, they’ll automatically renew every 4 years unless you get in an accident or are ticketed. Most other states have a similar 4, 5, or 8-year validity period.
Members of the military may also have their own federally-issued license. This entitles them to drive vehicles that have DoT (Department of Transport) or government plates and registration. However, their service drivers licenses may cease to be valid once they leave the military. As a whole, you can see how easy it is to forget whether or not your license is even still valid, or if it needs renewal.
2. Check Drivers License Status – Suspended Or Revoked
A much more pressing reason to check drivers license status besides wondering when the expiry date is going to be is in the case of suspended or revoked licenses. Driving is a matter of privilege, hence why you’re obliged to undergo rigorous driving tests before you’re legally permitted to drive out on the open road. Should you forget what these meant, your local DMV won’t hesitate to take action.
Drivers licenses can be revoked or suspended if you repeatedly commit offenses on the road, or violate traffic laws. To be clear, there’s a big difference between suspending a license and revoking it. A key difference is how the action is meted out:
- A suspended drivers license is a temporary measure, and the license will be valid again after a certain amount of time. It all depends on what you do next, and the DMV ought to make this clear. Primarily, there’ll be a set suspension period. Once that’s done, you can pay any fines due, and then apply to get your license reinstated. You may also have to take a specific action, like clearing back tax payments.
- Revoked drivers licenses are permanent, and your license will be considered invalid. This is usually a sentence reserved for those drivers whose licenses have been suspended more than once before. And, they continually repeat the same moving violations and present themselves as a hazard. You may be able to apply for a brand new license from scratch, but the DMV has the right to deny you one.
2.1. Reasons For Suspending Or Revoking A Drivers License
Nevertheless, there is one crucial similarity between a temporarily suspended or permanently revoked drivers license, in that you can’t drive. Even during a suspension, your license will be invalid during the suspension period, and you won’t legally be allowed to operate a vehicle on public roads. At least, not until the suspended period is over, and you can apply with the DMV to have the sanctions lifted.
In some states, a points or merit system is put in place, whereby every traffic offense is given a certain amount of points. Should you accumulate too many points within a given span of time, the DMV will suspend your license. The actual construction of such systems, as well as what may or may not constitute seeing a drivers license suspended or revoked varies by state. Here are some of the more common reasons:
- Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs (DUI or DWI)
- Convicted of drug-related offenses
- Refusal to go through a blood-alcohol (breathalyzer) test
- Driving without a valid liability insurance
- Using faked or doctored registration plates
- Driving without a proper drivers license, or a faked drivers license
- Carrying a faked ID, or letting another person use your ID or drivers license
- Road rage incidents, which may include assaulting other people
- Speeding, often only subscribed if you’ve done this too many times
- Partaking in street racing or unsanctioned speed contests
- Reckless or careless driving that may cause danger to others
- Leaving the scene of an accident (hit and run)
- Not paying your driving or traffic-related fines
- Failure to answer traffic or court summons
- Not paying or being behind on your child support dues
- Failing to file an accident report when necessary
- Failure to pay parking tickets or moving violations
2.2. Other Types Of Drivers License Suspensions And Revocations
Besides outright suspending or revoking your drivers license, there are also other ways in which your local DMV can take away your privileges to be behind the wheel. Here are a couple more unique types of drivers license suspensions and revocations:
- Administrative Review Suspension – This is granted to folks who have a serious medical condition that may impair their driving abilities. To be more specific, they have an illness that might make driving a danger to themselves and others. For this sort of suspension to be lifted, you need to visit and get approval from the doctor first. In particular, a written notice saying that they can drive safely.
- Administrative License Suspension – Not to be confused by the earlier one, this type of suspension is more related to DUI-related offenses. If you’ve been caught driving under the influence (either alcohol or drugs), ALS laws can see your license be suspended without a hearing. Similarly, if you refused to do a breathalyzer test during a traffic stop, your license may also be suspended under ALS laws.
If your license has been suspended, the local traffic court will send you a notice prior to the suspension date. This notice usually includes options for how you can avoid getting your license suspended. Besides that, this notice should generally have the following details:
- The effective date of when the suspension begins
- The termination date of when you’re allowed to drive again
- An official statement (commonly from the Secretary of State’s office) that your license has been suspended
- List of offenses that prompted your license’s suspension, including the date of when it happened, case number, police reports, etc.
- Options to avoid an active license suspension, such as paying any outstanding fines, etc.
2.3. What Happens If Your Drive With A Suspension Or Revoked License?
Ah, you might say, but what if I just want to go for a short drive? Or, you choose to stick it to the man and drive anyway, knowing that you have a suspended or revoked license? Even if you’re committing this unintentionally, it can still get you in a lot of trouble. By driving around with a drivers license that was suspended or revoked, you’re actively participating in a crime, and there will be consequences.
If and when you’re caught, this results in either getting slapped with a pretty hefty fine. Or worse, you can get jail time for it. In Texas, for example, the fine for driving with a suspended or revoked license is between $100 to $2,000. If the authorities aren’t as merciful, you could spend the next 6 months in jail. Besides that, here are a few more side-effects of driving with a suspended or revoked license:
- You’ll have to pay for towing and storage (or compound, in other words) of your vehicle.
- Being caught this way means you’ll now carry a criminal record for life. This can then be viewed and scrutinized by your employers, landlord, creditor, and your colleagues.
- Your insurance rates (even for plans outside auto insurance coverage) will skyrocket significantly.
- Or, many insurance companies tend to cancel your auto insurance plan altogether and include you on a blacklist. This “excluded driver” list will subsequently make it much harder for you to find insurance with that company or elsewhere in the future.
3. How To Check Drivers License Status (In Every State)?
As scary as that might sound, it’s getting easier than ever to check drivers license status. Thus, you’re able to make yourself aware of your drivers license is pending renewal. Or, whether it’s been revoked or suspended. As we’ve hinted enough times already, managing your drivers license will differ from one state to another. Typically, however, needing to check drivers license has to go through the DMV.
Each state DMV will also provide numerous options for how you can do this. Here’s a quick list of the most common ways, which are echoed across most states, for how you can quickly check drivers license status:
3.1. Common Methods To Check Drivers License Status
- Online – With most key functions of the local governments moving online, you can of course expect to check drivers license status here, too. In most states, there’s a special portal (more on that later) with your local DMV. To access it, though, you’ll have to verify your identity. This entails providing the last 4 digits of your Social Security, typing in your driver’s license number, or a date of birth.
- Email – Some DMVs may ask that you send an email through your emailing client. Most, thankfully, have a submission form on their website, likely under the Contact Us section. Here, you may type in your name, email address, phone number, and so on. Under the big Question or Description field, let them know that you want to check drivers license status. Then, wait a few days for them to respond.
- Phone – If you don’t mind speaking to someone directly, you can phone up your local DMV’s customer service representative. You can then acquaint them with the details, and they’ll check drivers license status for you. Remember that the phone lines might be closed on the weekends. Moreover, some DMVs recommend calling them on certain days or hours, if you want the quickest possible response.
- In-Person – The most direct way to check drivers license status is no doubt going to the local DMV HQ or branch office, and making a walk-in inquiry. Most DMVs will have a Contact Us or Locate Us page on their website that lists all of their locations. Just be wary of their opening hours. On top of that, be wary of any COVID-19 restrictions and guidelines in place that might limit on-site visits.
4. Where To Check Drivers License Status For Each State
To make things easier for you, we’ve scoured across the world wide web to find every state DMV (all 50 of them). In addition, we’ll be providing links to each of their respective pages to check your drivers license status. From there, you can decide to look it up online, or consider some of the options we’ve stated earlier. Note, that not all of these DMVs are the same. Some are more featureful than others.
For example, some state DMVs can let you view how many violation points you’ve racked up, as well as any outstanding tickets through their online portal. Others, meanwhile, may charge you a fee for it. Anyway, here’s where you can check drivers license status and driving records, as well as how to find more information for it, online or otherwise, for each state:
4.1. Every State DMV Links To Check Your Drivers License Status
- Alabama – Department Of Public Safety
- Alaska – Department Of Administration
- Arizona – Department Of Transportation
- Arkansas – Department Of Finance And Administration
- California – Department Of Motor Vehicles
- Colorado – Department Of Revenue
- Connecticut – Department Of Motor Vehicles
- Delaware – Department Of Transportation
- District Of Columbia – Department Of Motor Vehicles
- Florida – Highway Safety And Motor Vehicles
- Georgia – Department Of Driver Services
- Hawaii – Department Of Transportation (note: each county within Hawaii has its own DMVs)
- Idaho – Transportation Department
- Illinois – Secretary Of State
- Indiana – Bureau Of Motor Vehicles
- Iowa – Department Of Transportation
- Kansas – Department Of Revenue
- Kentucky – Transportation Department
- Louisiana – Department Of Public Safety
- Maine – Secretary Of State
- Maryland – Department Of Transportation
- Massachusetts – Registry Of Motor Vehicles
- Michigan – Secretary of State
- Minnesota – Department Of Public Safety
- Mississippi – Department Of Public Safety
- Missouri – Department Of Revenue
- Montana – Department Of Justice
- Nebraska – Department Of Motor Vehicles
- Nevada – Department Of Motor Vehicles
- New Hampshire – Department Of Safety
- New Jersey – Motor Vehicle Commission
- North Carolina – Department Of Transportation
- New Mexico – Motor Vehicle Division
- New York – Department Of Motor Vehicles
- North Dakota – Department Of Transportation
- Ohio – Department Of Public Safety
- Oklahoma – Department Of Public Safety
- Oregon – Department Of Transportation
- Pennsylvania – Department Of Transportation
- Rhode Island – Department Of Revenue
- South Carolina – Department Of Motor Vehicles
- South Dakota – Department Of Public Safety
- Tennessee – Department Of Safety And Homeland Security
- Texas – Department Of Public Safety
- Utah – Department Of Public Safety
- Vermont – Agency Of Transportation
- Virginia – Department Of Motor Vehicles
- Washington – Department Of Licensing
- West Virginia – Department Of Transportation
- Wisconsin – Department Of Transportation
- Wyoming – Department Of Transportation
How Long Does It Take For Your Drivers License To Arrive?
That just about covers all of the quick ways that you can check your drivers license status, including some extra titbits on acquiring detailed historical records. Another great way to utilize these DMV web portals is to check the status of your drivers license in transit. In other words, how much longer do you have to wait before the full, proper drivers license is mailed over to you?
As is commonly felt, there’s great joy in completing and passing our driving tests. Once you’ve passed, the local DMV will ferry you over to get your photo taken. At which point, you’ll now have to wait a while before the final license will be stamped out and authorized for you. You can then double-check all the paperwork and documentation, to make sure your personal details are correct and matched.
Between now and when the full license arrives, however, the DMV will issue a temporary license or a learner’s permit. The DMV will then mail your permanent, full drivers license to your address. As for how long it takes, you’ll usually have to wait around 1 to 2 weeks. If it takes any longer than that, or should you want to satisfy your curiosity, you can always refer to the abovementioned sources.
Final Thoughts On How To Check Drivers License Status
In all, that’ll be a good place to round off our look at how you can check drivers license status. There can be many reasons why you’d want to do this. The most common among them is to know how much longer you’ll have to wait before getting the full license sent over to you. Following completion of all your tests, the DMV will send them by mail. This may take a week or two to arrive.
Additionally, you may also want to check drivers license status to see if you’re still in the clear, and are legal to get behind the wheel. It’s a great occasion to see if you need to renew your drivers license. Or, to see how many points you’ve racked up, in moving violations and traffic offenses. Understanding it can at least put some pressure on you to keep driving more modestly, and without causing a fuss.
Some of these web services, or simple walk-in appointments with the DMV, can inform you of quite a lot when it comes to how you’ve been driving. You can learn more about your past driving records. It includes a long list of accidents, traffic cases, summons, fines, and more. This could be quite useful in many scenarios. Maybe, you’re quite keen to improve on how your driving affects others around you.
Worse comes to worst, you could thus stay on top of your license. Has it been suspended or revoked? Furthermore, you’ll be left more informed about how long the suspension will last, or what you can do to reverse it. As a whole, this rectangular piece of plastic is never-endingly important for any driver. As you lug it around in your wallet or purse, don’t be shy about checking in on it every so often.
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