Oops! Your driver’s license expiration date came and went, and now you’re stuck with an expired driver’s license. What do you need to do to get back on the road as soon as possible?
First, don’t panic. Yes, it’s your responsibility to pay attention to your driver’s license expiration date and renew your license before that date. But when you only need to renew your license every few years, it’s easy to see how it could slip your mind.
So don’t beat yourself up about it. Just follow our simple three-step plan to get road-ready in no time.
How to Renew Your Driver's License After It Expires
Step 1. Stay Out of the Driver’s Seat!
You cannot legally drive if your license has expired. Even if it just expired yesterday, you can face serious consequences for driving on an expired license. Penalties vary by state, but if you’re caught driving on an expired license, expect to get a ticket and have to pay a fine at the very least. In California, for example, driving with an expired license is a criminal offense, punishable with up to $1,000 in fines and up to six months in jail. Yikes!
So if your driver’s license expires, make arrangements to carpool, Uber, or take public transportation until you can get a new license. The good news is that you can probably get a new license pretty quickly. This leads us to Step Two...
Step 2. Check With Your Local DMV to Renew Your License
Most states offer a grace period for renewing your expired license. During this period, you can renew your license the same way you would if your license were still active. Depending on your state, your grace period might be just a few months or it could be a couple of years.
The exact process for renewing your license is a little different state to state, but it typically involves:
Confirming your personal details
Completing a renewal form
Paying a renewal fee
And maybe getting an updated driver’s license photo
You might need to physically visit your local DMV to renew your license. But it’s also possible in many cases to renew your license online in minutes! Just check your DMV’s website to see if they offer online driver’s license renewals and if you qualify to renew online.
If you’re able to renew your driver’s license immediately with your DMV, congratulations! You’re ready to hit the open road again. But if you missed your grace period, you’ll need to move on to Step Three…
Step 3. Retake Your Driving Tests and/or Driving Course as Needed
Maybe you’ve been taking public transportation for the last few years and haven’t needed to renew your license. Or maybe life just got crazy and you didn’t even realize that your license expired months ago. Whatever your reason for missing your renewal grace period, you’ll need to take an extra step or two to renew your license.
Again, the exact requirements vary by state. In Indiana, for example, after the 180-day grace period, you can renew your expired license with just a written test and a vision screening. This applies until three years after the expiration. At that point, you would need to retake the driving test as well. And in Texas, if you miss the two-year grace period, you’ll need to apply for a brand new license, which means re-taking the written test and the behind-the-wheel driving test.
Whatever your state requirements, if it’s been several months or even a few years since you last drove, you should seriously consider taking a quick traffic school course to refresh your memory. Not only will this course make you a safer driver, but it will also help you pass any driving exams you need to take to renew your license.
Don’t let an expired license bring your life to a standstill. Renewing your expired license is usually a quick, simple process. Follow our three-step plan, and you’ll be back in the driver’s seat in no time.