What Happens If You Get Caught Driving With An Expired License?

Depending on the state you live in, you could face tickets, fines, vehicle impoundment, or even arrest if you get caught driving with an expired license. While penalties are different in every state, it’s important to make sure you never let your driver’s license expire. No matter where you live, it’s always illegal to drive without a valid license.

In most states, it is customary to have residents renew their driver’s licenses every four years. Depending where you live, your driver’s license will most likely expire on your birthday. If your birthday is coming up, check and see if your license is set to expire. If you don’t renew your license and then get caught driving with an expired one, you could be in real trouble.

Fines For Driving With An Expired License

If the officer who pulls you over is in a good mood that day, he could let you off with a simple warning. He could also give you a “fix-it ticket,” which requires you to renew your license by a certain date and submit proof, otherwise face fines. If he decides to punish you, expect some (or all) of the following penalties:driving with expired license

  • A ticket up to $250
  • Points added to your record
  • Impoundment of vehicle
  • Arrest

Like stated above, the penalty will be dependent on the state in which you live. In New York State, the fines could range from $25 to $40 if your license expired within 60 days of the stop. If more than 60 days, the fine could be anywhere from $75 and $300. In the state of Wisconsin, you could be fined up to $500 and face jail time if you get caught more than once. In Illinois, you will be automatically given a two month suspension for your first offense, and could be thrown in jail for up to a year for repeat offenses. As you can see, the penalties range from minor to severe. If you are confused as to what the penalty is in your state, check out the chart here.

Insurance Penalties

Perhaps the most significant hit on your bank account won’t come from the fine or the penalty from law enforcement. If you get caught driving with an expired license, your insurance rates could shoot up and not go back down for years!

Most likely, the infraction will result in “points” added to your record. These points are a nuisance because of how difficult they are to get removed. They almost always will result in your insurance premiums being increased when it comes time to renew your policy.

An additional thing to consider is that if you get into a car accident while operating a vehicle with an expired license, your insurer could deny claims. By not being legally authorized to drive your car, you could be responsible for thousands of dollars (or more) because the insurance company could deny coverage.

How To Renew Your License

Depending on the state you live in, renewing an expired license can be an easy task or a hard one. You usually just have to stop by your local DMV/RMV and wait in line with your expired license. Sometimes you can simply renew your driver’s license online. Most states require a vision test and a new photo, so be prepared for that. Your state will most likely charge you between $25 and $150 to renew an expired license.

Always be sure to not let your expired license sit for too long without renewing. If you wait past your state’s limit, you might need to retake your driving test (written and/or road). To learn the requirements and cost for renewing your driver’s license, please check your state’s registry


  Comments: 3

  1. Frederic Thomas

    My registration expired December 2018 and I am having trouble passing a smog test. I am still driving my car .I paid the registration fees but will not get new tags till I pass a smog test.

  2. My license expires before I will receive a certified copy of my marriage license for a real id drivers license renewal. I purchased the certificate today and was told it will arrive in a month or so.
    Can I get an extension?
    Thank you.

    • Andrew@4AutoInsuranceQuote

      Hi Judy,
      You will need to ask your state’s department of motor vehicles to see about an extension. It’s possible they would give you one, or at least give you a temporary license, but you will likely need to show proof that you bought the certificate. You might also be required to show other forms of identification and residency. It doesn’t hurt to ask the DMV though, because they might be willing to work with you. It will be entirely up to them. If they don’t give you an extension, then you can get a new license once your certificate comes. Just be prepared to not drive without a license, and possibly pay a reinstatement fee.

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