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

So, what happens when your license expires but you still need to drive? Driving with expired license penalties include fines of up to $250 and points against your driver license. Depending on the number of traffic violations on your record, your car can be impounded and you could be arrested for driving without a driver’s license. If you get caught driving with an expired license by a police officer, your auto insurance rates could also increase due to the points on your license.

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Rachel Bodine graduated from college with a BA in English. She has since worked as a Feature Writer in the insurance industry and gained a deep knowledge of state and countrywide insurance laws and rates. Her research and writing focus on helping readers understand their insurance coverage and how to find savings. Her expert advice on insurance has been featured on sites like PhotoEnforced, All...

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Written by Rachel Bodine
Insurance Feature Writer Rachel Bodine

Leslie Kasperowicz holds a BA in Social Sciences from the University of Winnipeg. She spent several years as a Farmers Insurance CSR, gaining a solid understanding of insurance products including home, life, auto, and commercial and working directly with insurance customers to understand their needs. She has since used that knowledge in her more than ten years as a writer, largely in the insurance...

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Reviewed by Leslie Kasperowicz
Farmers CSR for 4 Years Leslie Kasperowicz

UPDATED: Jun 6, 2022

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Depending on the state you live in, you could face tickets, fines, motor vehicle impoundment, or even arrest if you get caught driving with an expired license. Read on for how to get a car out of impound. 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 undergo the driver license renewal process 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 current driving license is set to expire. If you don’t renew your driving license within the renewal period and then get caught driving with an expired one, you could be in real trouble.

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Can I drive with an expired license?

If the police 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 follow the driver’s license renewal process by a certain date and submit proof, otherwise face fines. If he decides to punish you or your license expiration, expect some (or all) of the following fines for driving with an 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.

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What are the insurance penalties for non-renewal?

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 long can you go without renewing your driver’s license?

Depending on the state you live in, renewing an expired license can be an easy task or a hard one for eligible drivers. You usually just have to stop by your local Department of Motor Vehicles office and wait in line with your expired license. Sometimes you can simply renew your driver’s license online or apply for a temporary license, but you do need to meet the requirements in your state for online renewal eligibility.

Other drivers may need to go to their state’s Department of Motor Vehicles office or their driver license office. Most states require a vision test and a new photo, so be prepared for that. Your state’s Department of Motor Vehicles will most likely charge you between $25 and $150 renewal fee for license renewal, even if you choose online renewal.

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

Once you get your license current, you’ll want to get the best car insurance rates. Enter your ZIP code into our free tool and get started.

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