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Can you legally drive with an expired license? (2022)

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Why you can trust Insurify

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Katie Powers

By: Katie Powers

Edited by John Leach

Updated September 20, 2022

Reading time: 7 minutes

In most states, there is no grace period between license expiration and license renewal that allows drivers to legally operate their vehicle with an expired license. Specific penalties vary based on the state you live in, but consequences for driving with an expired license include tickets, fines, jail time, and denied claims from your car insurance company.
The best method of avoiding complications related to an expired driver’s license is proactive license renewal. If mistakes happen, the penalties associated with driving with an expired license will likely increase the cost of your insurance. Before you buy or renew a car insurance policy, compare quotes from multiple providers to find the best option for you.

Quick Facts

  • You cannot legally drive with an expired license.

  • Depending on your state, you can renew your license online, by mail, or in person.

  • Penalties for driving with an expired license include tickets, fines, and jail time.

How long can you drive with an expired license?

Can you legally drive with an expired license?

No, you cannot drive with an expired license. Only a few states have limited grace periods in place for license renewal.

Driving with an expired license is illegal because states rely on obtaining updated driver information and ensuring your continued ability to drive safely. Though a few states provide drivers a grace period to complete driver’s license renewals after expiration, the period generally lasts for less than 30 days. The smartest option is to renew your license prior to expiration.

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Consequences of Driving with an Expired License

The penalties drivers face for driving without a renewed and valid driver’s license range in severity depending on state law. Serious consequences following interactions with law enforcement include hefty fines, tickets, potential jail time, and a lack of coverage from your insurer for anything occurring after your driver’s license expires.

What happens if you renew your driver’s license after the expiration date?

If you renew your license after the expiration date but do not drive with an expired license, you will likely face a more tedious renewal process, depending on what state you live in. In Missouri[1], for example, drivers with a license expired for over six months have to repass the state’s vision screening, road sign recognition, skills test, and written test but do not have to pay a late renewal fee.


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Why do driver's licenses expire?

Driver’s licenses regularly expire for a few different reasons. Many states need to confirm that drivers can see well enough to drive by conducting an eye test at the time of renewal. Mandated renewal also helps each state’s department of motor vehicles (DMV) update driver photos and addresses. License expiration dates also prevent the fraudulent use of a lost or stolen license.

How often do you need to renew your license?

Specific guidelines vary by state, but drivers in the United States must renew their driver’s licenses anywhere from every 2 to every 12 years[2]. The most common renewal cycles, however, last between 4 and 8 years. Often, the deadline for license renewal occurs on the driver’s date of birth, making the expiration date easier to remember.

Does my insurance coverage still apply if my license expires?

Driving with an expired license is illegal, so auto insurers rarely provide coverage if you happen to have an at-fault accident or receive a speeding ticket or DUI. Rare exceptions exist, depending on your car insurance policy and state grace periods, but you do not want to be fully on the hook for things your auto insurer would typically help cover.

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State Penalties for Driving Without a License

State penalties[3] for driving without a license vary. People caught driving with an expired license may end up facing the same penalties as those driving without any license. Below, you can find your state’s penalties for a driver’s first offense of driving without a license. Keep in mind the listed penalties may not apply concurrently and do not include penalties beyond the first offense.

Alabama

  • Misdemeanor

  • Fine between $10 and $100 and an additional $50 traffic fine

  • Up to 180 days in prison

  • Immediate vehicle impoundment

  • License suspension increased by 6 months

Alaska

  • Misdemeanor

  • Existing license suspension increased by at least 90 days

  • Possible forfeiture of vehicle

  • Completion of community service hours

Arizona

  • Misdemeanor

  • Up to 6 months in prison

  • Possible vehicle impoundment

Arkansas

  • Misdemeanor

  • Between 2 days and 6 months in prison

  • Possible fine of up to $500

California

  • Between 5 days and 6 months in prison

  • Fine between $300 and $1,000

Colorado

  • Misdemeanor

  • Up to 6 months in prison

  • Fine of up to $500

  • Existing license suspension increased by one year

Connecticut

  • Up to 3 months in prison

  • Fine between $150 and $200

Delaware

  • Between 30 days and 6 months in prison

  • Fine between $500 and $1,000

  • Vehicle impoundment up to 90 days possible

Florida

  • Misdemeanor

  • Up to 60 days in prison

  • Fine of up to $500

Georgia

  • Misdemeanor

  • Between 2 days and 1 year in prison

  • Additional fine up to $500 possible for first offense

Hawaii

  • Up to 30 days in prison

  • Fine of up to $1,000

Idaho

  • Misdemeanor

  • Between 2 days and 6 months in prison

  • Fine of up to $1,000

  • Existing license suspension increased by 180 days

Illinois

  • Misdemeanor

  • Up to 1 year in prison

  • Fine of up to $2,500

Indiana

  • Felony

  • Between 6 months and 2.5 years in prison

  • Fine of up to $10,000

Iowa

  • Misdemeanor

  • Fine between $250 and $1,500

  • Existing license suspension increased for up to a year

Kansas

  • Misdemeanor

  • Up to 5 days in prison

  • Fine of at least $100

Kentucky

  • Misdemeanor

  • At least 90 days in prison

  • Existing license suspension increased by 6 months

Louisiana

  • Up to 6 months in prison

  • Fine of up to $500

Maine

  • Class E crime

  • $250 fine

Maryland

  • Misdemeanor

  • Up to 1 year in prison

  • Fine of up to $1,000

  • Existing license suspension possibly increased by up to 1 year

Massachusetts

  • Up to 10 days in prison

  • Fine between $500 to $1,000

Michigan

  • Misdemeanor

  • Up to 93 days in prison

  • Fine of up to $500

Minnesota

  • Up to 90 days in prison

  • Fine of up to $1,000

Mississippi

  • Between 2 days and 6 months in prison

  • Fine between $200 and $500

  • Existing license suspension increased by 6 months

Missouri

  • Misdemeanor

  • Up to 1 year in prison (though no set term of imprisonment)

Montana

  • Fine of up to $500

Nebraska

  • Misdemeanor

  • License revocation for a year

  • Unable to operate any motor vehicle for a year

Nevada

  • Misdemeanor

  • Up to 6 months in prison

  • Fine of up to $1,000

  • Existing license suspension, revocation, or restriction extended

New Hampshire

  • Misdemeanor

  • At least 1 week in prison

  • Fine of up to $1,000

  • Existing license suspension increased by up to 6 months

New Jersey

  • $500 fine

New Mexico

  • Misdemeanor

  • Between 4 and 364 days in prison

  • Fine of up to $1,000

  • Possible vehicle immobilization

New York

  • Misdemeanor

  • Up to 30 days in prison

  • Fine between $200 and $500

North Carolina

  • Misdemeanor

  • Between 1 to 10 days in prison

  • Fine of up to $200

  • Existing license suspension increased by 1 year

North Dakota

  • Misdemeanor

  • Up to 30 days in prison

  • $1,500 fine

Ohio

  • Misdemeanor

  • Fine of up to $1,000

  • 500 hours of community service

Oklahoma

  • Misdemeanor

  • Up to 30 days in prison

  • Fine between $50 and $300

Oregon

  • Class A Traffic Infraction

  • Fine between $220 and $2,000

  • Possible vehicle impoundment

Pennsylvania

  • Summary Offense

  • $200 fine

  • Existing license suspension increased by 1 year

  • Existing license revocation increased by 2 years

Rhode Island

  • Violation

  • Fine between $250 and $500

South Carolina

  • Up to 30 days in prison

  • $300 fine

South Dakota

  • Misdemeanor

  • Up to 30 days in jail

  • Fine of up to $500

Tennessee

  • Misdemeanor

  • Up to 6 months in prison

  • Fine of up to $500

  • Existing license suspension increased

Texas

  • Misdemeanor

  • Fine of up to $500

Utah

  • Misdemeanor

  • Up to 6 months in prison

  • $1,000 fine

Vermont

  • Up to 2 years in prison

  • Fine of up to $5,000

Virginia

  • Misdemeanor

  • Up to 1 year in prison

  • Fine of up to $2,500

  • Possible vehicle impoundment up to 90 days

Washington

  • Misdemeanor

  • Up to 364 days in prison

  • Fine of up to $5,000

Washington, D.C.

  • Up to 1 year in prison

  • Fine of up to $2,500

West Virginia

  • Misdemeanor

  • Fine between $100 to $500

Wisconsin

  • $100 fine if license has been expired for less than 3 months

  • Fine between $50 and $200 for driver with suspended license

  • Fine of up to $2,500 for driver with revoked license

  • Possible vehicle impoundment for driver with revoked license

Wyoming

  • Misdemeanor

  • Fine of up to $750

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Ways to Renew Your Driver's License

By renewing your license prior to expiration, you avoid penalties and fees for late renewal and driving with an expired license. Renewal requirements vary by state, so check your state’s DMV website to find specifics. Necessary paperwork for in-person renewal may include your current license, Social Security number, a bill with your current address, and more.

Where can I renew my license?

All states allow drivers to renew their licenses in person, and some even require it for all drivers. Drivers are able to renew their driver’s licenses online in many states, with some exceptions and in-person requirements for obtaining a REAL ID or implementing a full name change on the new driver’s license. Depending on your eligibility, you may also be able to renew by mail.

Finding Cheap Car Insurance

A reliable way to find cheap car insurance is to compare quotes from multiple auto insurance providers at the same time, rather than navigating through a number of car insurance company websites. Utilizing discounts, increasing your deductible, completing safe driving courses, installing vehicle safety features, and bundling insurance also cut costs.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • No, you cannot legally drive with an expired license, though a few states offer a short grace period between license expiration and license renewal. Some states may send out a renewal notice for impending license expiration, but you should make a habit of renewing your license well in advance of the expiration deadline.

  • Drivers in the United States can renew their licenses online, in person, and by mail, depending on the specific requirements in their state. Some states require all drivers to renew their licenses in person, while others offer online renewal in most cases. Additionally, most states allow for renewal by mail for eligible drivers with medical or military excuses.

  • If you are caught driving with an expired license, you will face penalties determined by laws in your state. Potential consequences include expired license fees, tickets, and jail time, and most insurance companies will not provide coverage if your license is expired. Some states relaxed requirements slightly throughout the pandemic, so pay attention to changing state guidelines.

  • Comparison-shopping for car insurance quotes from providers in your state is the best way to consider your options and save. Finding affordable coverage that meets your specific needs is crucial. An auto insurer that works well for someone living in a rural area, for example, may not be the best choice for someone in an urban environment.

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Katie Powers
Katie Powers
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Insurance Writer

Katie Powers is an insurance writer at Insurify with expertise in personal finance and auto insurance topics. She strives to help consumers make better financial decisions. Prior to joining Insurify, she completed her undergraduate and graduate degrees at Emerson College. Her work has been published in St. Louis Magazine, the Boston Globe, and elsewhere. Connect with Katie on LinkedIn.

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Sources

  1. Missouri Department of Revenue. "General Questions about Driver Licensing." Accessed August 11, 2022
  2. Insurance Information Institute. "State Drivers License Renewal Laws Including Requirements for Older Drivers." Accessed August 11, 2022
  3. National Conference of State Legislatures. "Driving While Revoked, Suspended or Otherwise Unlicensed: Penalties by State." Accessed August 11, 2022