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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UPDATED: Jul 14, 2021

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If you are caught driving with an expired driver’s license, your car insurance rates could go up. It depends on which state you live in and the circumstances of the offence.

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However, an increase in insurance rates isn’t the worst consequence from driving with an expired license. It could result in having no insurance at all.

A Ticket for Expired License

Police officers usually do not pull you over looking for an expired license. However, if you are pulled over for anything else, he’ll ask for your driver’s license and then he’ll notice the expiration date.

What he does next is really up to the officer. If your license is expired even by one day, he is entitled to write you a ticket for the infraction. However, some officers will just give you a warning and a strong encouragement to get the license renewed as soon as possible. This is especially true if it hasn’t been expired that long.

Also, if you are caught driving with an expired license, you are technically driving illegally. Some officers will not allow you to drive away since you would still be driving illegally at that point. They will ask you to call someone to drive you home. In some states, they may even call a tow truck and impound your car.

As with all tickets, you’ll have to make an appearance before a judge.

If you are found guilty of the offense, it will go on your driving record. What happens next depends on the state and your insurance company.

In some states, driving with an expired license is considered a moving violation, and will count for points against your driving record. If this happens, expect a rate increase from your insurance company, just as you would if you had received a speeding ticket.

Other states do not consider this offense a moving violation, but instead class it with violations such as parking tickets. These usually don’t increase your costs.

However, your insurance company requires you to be a legally licensed driver in order for them to cover you. If they see you have driven for a while with an expired license, that will tell them that you might be a riskier client than they had originally figured. This could cause a rate increase even when it doesn’t add points to your record.

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Not a Valid ID

Remember that a drivers license is usually a person’s primary ID. If your license is expired, the ID is no longer valid.

This means that stores could refuse to sell you alcohol or tobacco. You might have trouble booking travel plans, especially on airlines. If you try to get a passport, social security card, or other legal document you won’t be able to use the license at all. You might not even be able to access your money at your bank if they ask for ID.

Being in an Accident

If you are in an accident while driving with an expired license, it is even worse. The insurance company could very well refuse to cover the accident if it learns of the expired license and there will be nothing you can do about it.

Think of an insurance policy as a contract between you and the insurance company. You agree to pay the premium when it is due and they agree to cover you. However, if you read the fine print of the policy, it requires you to be a valid driver’s license holder in order to be covered by the policy.

If you drive without a license, you are in essence breaking the contract between you and your insurance provider.

This doesn’t erase your responsibility for the accident. If the accident was your fault, and you were found to have an expired license at the time of the accident, you’ll be required to pay for the other driver’s car repairs and for medical care for his injuries.

Now you’ll be forced to pay out-of-pocket and the other driver might even take you to court. Normally your liability insurance would take care of this. But with an expired license, you might find that they won’t.

How to Avoid Paying for the Ticket

While it is often easy to forget to renew your license, it is one of the most preventable tickets you can receive. It is often easy to get out of as well, though this will depend upon the goodwill of the judge to some extent.

If you renew your license within a day or two of the ticket and have a valid driver’s license by the time you have to go to court for the ticket, many judges will dismiss the charges. However, if the license was expired for a long time and it is clear that you were being negligent rather than forgetful, he might not.

If he won’t dismiss the charges even with a renewed license, ask if you can take a defensive driving course in order to dismiss the ticket. If he agrees, you’ll still keep the charge off your record.

Defensive driving courses are very easy to take these days. There are many online that you can take that cost less than $50, some less than $30. These can be taken at your convenience from the privacy of your laptop. If you prefer a more social setting, many comedy clubs offer courses taught to both entertain and educate. Some even offer a meal, making them convenient after work activities.

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How to Remember to Renew Your License

Obviously, the best thing to do is to prevent the license from expiring in the first place. But often licenses are good for many years, in some states as much as ten years. How do you remember to renew the thing?

If you have a calendar program on your computer, you can enter reminders to yourself if your program goes out that far. Often if it isn’t due for eight years or more, this is impractical. It’s very likely you will buy a new computer or change programs long before then. If you are still using a paper calendar, this won’t be possible.

One thing to remember is that in many states, the renewal date is the same as your birth date. So you can get in the habit, or set reminders on a smart phone or computer program of checking your license as your birthday approaches.

Don’t leave it until the day of your birthday, however. You could be sick that day, called out of town unexpectedly, or have something else preventing you from going on that day. Plan to go at least a couple of weeks before then.

Additionally, at the beginning of each new year if you have certain things you do like cleaning out file folders, buying a new calendar, or whatever, check your license then to see if it will be due that year.

Many states send out a renewal notice. If you get one, don’t ignore it. Put it somewhere you will see constantly until you renew it. If your state offers online renewals, take advantage of it because it will save you a lot of time standing in line at the DMV.

Make sure you look ahead of time to see what documents you will need. Some states, like Texas, require separate proof of residency even for renewals.

Ways to Save Money on Insurance

If you do see a increase in your rates due to a citation for driving with an expired license, there are things you can do to try to offset those costs.

Ask your agent to go over your policy with you. There might be some discounts you could be getting that you don’t currently enjoy. Usually these would include a multi-car discount for having more than one vehicle on the policy, or a multi-policy discount.

A multi-policy discount is a great way to save money. If you have more than one type of policy, like auto, boat, homeowners, renters, or even life insurance with the same company, you’ll usually receive quite a large discount on each policy you have.

The more policies you have with a single company, the larger your discount will be.

If you have comprehensive and collision coverage, find out how much you would save by raising the deductible. Most people tend to leave the deductible at $250 or $500. However, the more out-of-pocket costs you agree to cover, the lower your premiums will be. In fact, raising your deductible to $1,000 can lower your premium by up to 40%, says the Insurance Information Institute.

Sometimes you can get discounts depending on how you pay for your insurance. Some companies will lower your premium if you pay it in full rather than in monthly installments. Other companies will offer you a discount if you set up automatic payments withdrawn from your checking account each month. You might even get a discount just for getting your bill via email rather than on paper.

Of course, you should spend some time shopping around for different rates. Not every company penalizes the same amount for something like an expired license, especially if you can show you have renewed it since then. By getting multiple quotes, you can get a better idea of what the best deal for you can be.

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