Your Driver's License FAQ

Answers to questions on driving outside of your state, driving with a suspended or revoked license, and driving when you're over 65.

If I Get a Ticket in Another State, Will It Affect my Driver's License?

Typically, an out-of-state traffic ticket will affect your home-state driving record. The majority of states (all except Michigan and Wisconsin) belong either to an agreement called the "Driver's License Compact" or the "Non-Resident Violator Compact." Basically, the states that are part of these agreements have agreed to share driving information related to traffic convictions and license suspensions. So, an out-of-state traffic conviction generally will affect your driving record as if you received the ticket in your home states.

Can I Use my Driver's License in a Foreign Country?

In many countries—including Canada and Mexico—American tourists can lawfully drive so long as they hold a valid license U.S. license. In many countries that don't recognize U.S. driver's licenses, American tourists will need an "International Driving Permit" (IDP) to lawfully operate a vehicle in the country.

However, driving laws and restrictions differ by country. So, before traveling to a foreign country where you expect to be driving, it's best to check the most recent information from the U.S. State Department.

When Can My Driver's License be Suspended or Revoked?

Driving a car is considered a privilege rather than an absolute right. And, all states will revoke or suspend the license of drivers who are convicted of certain offenses or repeatedly violate traffic laws. In many states, offenses that can lead to license suspension include:

In addition, many states use "point" systems to keep track of a driver's moving violations: Each moving violation is assigned a certain number of points. If a driver accumulates too many points within a given period of time, the department of motor vehicles suspends her license.

If you have too many serious problems as a driver, your state may take away (revoke) your license altogether. If this happens, you'll have to wait a certain period of time before you can apply for another license. Your state may deny your application if you have a poor driving record or fail to pass any required tests.

What Will Happen If I'm Caught Driving With a Suspended or Revoked License?

Driving with a suspended or revoked license is usually considered a crime that carries a heavy fine and possibly even jail time. The penalties are typically most severe if the suspension or revocation was the result of a conviction for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs (DUI).

My Elderly Friend Is Becoming Unsafe at the Wheel. Will Her License be Taken Away?

Unsafe drivers who continue to drive despite the advice of family and friends often don't come to the attention of DMV unless a police officer reports unsafe driving after making a traffic stop or responding to an accident. If a licensing agency moves to cancel someone's license as the result of an officer's observations, an accident, or the report of family members or a doctor, the driver usually has an opportunity to protest.

Many states—including California and Arizona—also have special renewal requirements for drivers who are older than a certain age.

Is my Driver's License Good in Every State?

If you have a valid license from one state, you can generally use it to lawfully drive in other states that you visit. But, if you make a permanent move to another state, you'll have to take a trip to the local department of motor vehicles to apply for a new license. Usually, you must do this within 30 days after moving to the new state.

Also, although states generally accept out-of-state licenses, most states are inflexible with age requirements. So, younger drivers should double-check before assuming their license will allow them to drive across state borders.

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