What Is Driver’s License Status and How To Check It

Drivers License Status

What’s the difference between a clear license, a suspension, and a revocation? Not as much as you might think. Your driver’s license status is important to know because there are ways to avoid losing your ability to drive – and with it, many privileges of society.

It’s important to know your driver’s license status because it can impact your employment status, ability to secure a loan or lease an apartment, and even job prospects.

Understanding Driver's License Status

Having a clear license status means you’re allowed to drive without limits and that your license doesn’t merit further scrutiny. License status also impacts other aspects of life because it can be viewed on your profile by credit card companies and banks if it’s considered collecting an overdue bill. In addition, prospective employers who ask to see your credit report and judges handling other matters may see your driving status if it’s reported as an unpaid bill.

If your license is suspended, you’re likely barred from any driving and therefore unable to do your job. In addition, a suspended license brings scrutiny from any potential employer who may decide that it means you’re not trustworthy or inattentive to details and would not be a good risk as an employee.

Likewise, a court deciding a child custody, guardianship, or adoption case could view a suspended license as an indication of irresponsibility and decide not to grant custody.

But several scenarios can move your license into suspended status, including:

  • Unpaid child support
  • Unpaid civil judgments or other court-ordered penalty
  • Three major moving violations

A combination of major and minor driving infractions triggers automatic suspension.

Revocation of a driver’s license generally follows a court hearing unless you have triggered an automatic revocation by being found guilty of breaking a law, usually something like motor vehicle homicide.

The Significance of Driver's License Status

When your license is valid, it means you don’t have any outstanding tickets or issues. Suspension means you don’t have permission to drive until an issue like unpaid tickets or a waiting period is cleared up. Revocation of your license means you’re not allowed to drive unless reinstated by a judge.

Driver License Status

Different Types of License Status

Your driver’s license status can be one of the following:

  • Valid, meaning you have no reportable infractions and do not warrant further investigation.
  • Suspended, which is a conditional surrender that results from a pattern of traffic infractions, unpaid court judgments, or even unpaid taxes.
  • Revoked, the most serious status indicates serious misdeeds from serial DUI to being responsible for a motor vehicle homicide.
  • Expired is when your license needs to be renewed (online or in person). If your license is expired you may have to take a driving test to get a new license.

How to Check Driver License Status

Check driver license status by logging onto the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) website in the state where your license was issued. There is a way to input your license number to check your status or a phone number you can call to ask about it. The DMV will also have information about clearing your license status, whether that means paying a court judgment or waiting out a suspension period.

Understanding Driver's License Status

Your license can be suspended without your direct knowledge because it may happen automatically, triggered by a series of infractions like traffic tickets. It’s important to check and understand your license status because if you’re caught driving with a suspended license it may amplify penalties against you (for instance, a speeding ticket normally carries a fine, but a speeding ticket on a suspended license may require a court appearance and may result in probation for a misdemeanor offense).

Checking Driver License Status Online

Most states allow drivers to use a website to check their license status. To find yours, go to your state’s DMV website and input your personal information, including your driver’s license number. The result should tell you if your license is suspended or revoked. It will also tell you when your license needs to be renewed.

What Do Different Drivers Statuses Mean?

Valid:  A valid license means you may drive without limitations.

Suspended: A suspended license can be provisional. Depending on your situation, a judge may decide that your license is valid only to get from home to work and invalid if you’re driving anywhere else. If you’re stopped by police with a suspended license it can be an issue, as the officer may have the ability to take you into custody and compel you to appear before a judge to settle unpaid fines, or may impound your vehicle. A suspension is not permanent, so it makes sense to pay your overdue fine, make a court appearance to explain to a judge or wait out the suspension period without getting into trouble again. If you do not comply with the terms of the suspension you could get into bigger trouble, including compounded fines and potentially having your license revoked.

Revoked: This is the most serious level, which means you are not allowed to drive under any circumstances. Having a license revoked is often permanent, a result of a pattern of dangerous driving such as multiple accidents or DUI vs DWI. Reapplying for a driver’s license after a revocation is a process that requires court appearances.

Ensuring Accuracy in Your Driver License Status

Errors in recordkeeping may result in a change of your driver’s license status – or even a result of identity theft. If you discover that your license has been suspended or revoked and you do not have a pattern of driving penalties, you should investigate immediately. You’ll have to gather all of your paperwork like insurance documents (including proof of different types of car insurance), and birth certificate, and make an appointment at the DMV where you live to sort it out. Likewise, a clerical error at the DMV can mistakenly attribute someone else’s traffic tickets to your record. That’s why it’s important to check your status periodically to ensure it’s clear.

Common Mistakes in Driver License Status

Driving with a suspended license is not uncommon. Some people miss the notices sent by the court that tell them when the suspension takes effect, or they don’t understand that not paying court fines will trigger a suspension. Police may stop a vehicle if their license plate reader flags the car as belonging to someone with a suspended license. If the driver’s record is not serious (unpaid fines rather than multiple DUIs), the police officer may allow the person to drive home and park the car. However, this is up to the officer’s discretion, and they may decide instead to take the driver to the police station or courthouse while having the car towed. This situation usually results in higher fines and disrupts the driver’s work and home life. Lost your driver’s license? Knowing how to rectify the situation promptly is crucial to avoid further legal complications.

Updating Your Driver's License Information

Moving from one state to another is common, but did you know that each state has a requirement to switch your driver’s license within a specific period? That can trip you up if you’ve been busy enrolling children in new schools, finding new doctors, and settling into a new home. Keeping your address current is not difficult if you’re moving within a state (just update it on the DMV website) but it’s more challenging to schedule a time to go to the DMV and get a license in your new state of residence. Still, it’s important to comply with local regulations.

Check Driver License Status

Handling Suspensions and Revocations

It’s shocking to find that your license has been suspended or revoked, but it’s not difficult to sort out. 

Take these steps to stay on top of it:

  • Use the DMV website in your home state (which issued your license) to find out your license status and learn how to correct it. It may be a matter of paying overdue fines or paying past-due child support. Also, other states you have lived in may be able to track you for unpaid tickets or court judgments there and attach a suspension until those are paid. Only five states do not share information about their drivers: Massachusetts, Michigan, Tennessee, Wisconsin, and Georgia.
  • Find out what to do if a driver's license is suspended or revoked, and how to regain your driving privileges. Calling the DMV or the county clerk’s office for information can help.

Checking the Status Periodically

If your job depends on your ability to drive, it’s crucial to stay on top of your driver’s license status.

To ensure that you check your status periodically, make a habit of logging onto the DMV website at the same time as you do another task, such as:

  • When you have your oil changed
  • When clocks change for daylight savings
  • Whenever there’s a school break.

Benefits of Monitoring Your Driver License Status

It’s a great feeling to cruise down the highway without a care in the world. If you’re a careful driver and you’re confident that your driving status is valid you don’t have to worry every time you see a state trooper sitting alongside the road.

Avoiding Legal Consequences

An unpaid court fine can get your license suspended, but you may not find out until you get stopped by police for a minor thing like a broken taillight. Likewise, ignoring parking tickets can impact your ability to get to work. 

It’s important to understand that even small unpaid tickets or bills like state road taxes can have big penalties. Checking your license status periodically may help you avoid unpleasant surprises.

Keep your license status valid by:

  • Paying attention to official letters that arrive in the mail.
  • If you’re unable to pay a court fine up front, ask for a payment period in exchange for keeping your license out of suspension status.
  • Collection agencies can be used by states for unpaid taxes. If you ignore their calls and letters your license may be suspended. Find out what bill they are trying to collect and try to set up a payment plan.

Improving Your Driving Record

Take driving seriously, it can be the difference between a bright future and a hard grind to make ends meet. Having a vehicle is important in the U.S., allowing you to live in an affordable area and commute to a nearby city for work. Without the ability to drive, your options are limited.

Sloppy record-keeping and sloppy driving go hand-in-hand. If you dismiss traffic tickets as annoying and don’t pay them, your driving record will suffer, and your insurance is guaranteed to go up. By monitoring your license status and driving record you’ll catch any DMV errors before they become big issues, and you might stop an identity thief in his tracks. These steps will also make you a more conscientious driver, one who is attentive to speed limits and no-passing zones. Your driving record will improve as a result.

Being Prepared for Renewals and Expirations

Driver’s licenses require renewal every 3-5 years. If you make a habit of monitoring your license status you’ll be aware of expiration dates and avoid the common error of getting caught with an invalid license. Many states make it easy to renew online as long as your tickets are paid and your status is clear.

Set up an automatic reminder on your phone or calendar so you don’t miss important dates for renewal. 


In conclusion, by following the steps outlined in this guide, you can ensure that you stay informed and in control of your driver's license status and history. Regular monitoring will help you make informed decisions about your driving record, keeping you safe on the road and out of legal trouble.


Where to Check My Driver License Status?

You can typically check your driver's license status through your state's Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) website. Most states provide online portals where you can input your driver's license number, date of birth, and other required information to access your license status. If you're unsure of where to find this information online, you can visit your state's official DMV website or perform a quick internet search using keywords like "check driver's license status [your state]."

What Information Do I Need to Check My Driver’s License Status Online?

Typically, you will need your driver’s license number, date of birth, and sometimes the last four digits of your Social Security number to access your license status online.

What Does it Mean if My Driver’s License Status is “Valid”?

If your driver’s license status is “valid,” it means that your license is current and in good standing. You are legally permitted to drive within the conditions outlined by your license.

What Does it Mean if My Driver’s License Status is “Suspended”?

A “suspended” driver’s license status indicates that your driving privileges have been temporarily withdrawn. This could be due to various reasons such as traffic violations, failure to pay fines, or failure to maintain proper insurance.

How Often Should I Check My Driver’s License Status?

It’s a good idea to periodically check your driver’s license status, especially if you’ve had recent interactions with law enforcement, received traffic citations, or undergone changes in your personal information.