DMV Drivers License Guide
Every state has a different agency that handles licensing and identification of drivers and residents. While most people are familiar with the DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles), there are many states that assign different agencies such as the DOR (Department of Revenue), DPS (Department of Public Safety), or SOS (Secretary of State) office.
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Regardless of what agency handles this, all states outline requirements for both teen and adult drivers when it comes time to license individuals that will operate vehicles on public roadways. Don’t forget you’ll need a vehicle registration and auto insurance after you get your driver’s license.
Teens Applying for a Driver’s License
In an effort to standardize licensing requirements for teens, most states participate in what is known as the Graduated Driver’s License (GDL) program or something similar process. What is usually required is:
- Completion of a Driver’s Education program.
- Application for a learner’s permit.
- Application for a provisional license after a learner’s permit.
- Pass the written and driving test for an unrestricted driver’s license.
While a GDL program or something similar may seem cumbersome to many teens and their parents, the adoption of such programs was spurred by the high number of traffic accidents and deaths among teen drivers. The overall process usually takes a year or more before an unrestricted driver license is issued.
Many states do offer additional options for teens who need less restrictive driving privileges sooner such as that offered with a provisional license. In states like Texas and Florida, teens can apply for what is known as a hardship license. Additional paperwork and proof of what the states defines as a “hardship” must be provided. You can learn more about teen driver license programs and hardship licenses with your state agency.
Adults Applying for a Drivers License
Every state defines an “adult” as an individual 18 years of age or older. While adults can also benefit from participating in driving programs like GDL, the requirements are different and usually less encompassing. In many states, adults just have to be able to pass with written and driving tests required.
Some driver education courses may be required but not to the extent that teen drivers must comply with.
Individuals Applying for Identification Cards
If you are looking to be issued a state ID without permissions for driving, this is usually a simple one day task. As with an application for a license though, you will be required to show proof of identity such as a birth certificate and identification card.
Additionally, the proper form of payment for the ID being issued must be provided. An agent will take a picture of you and additional information will be obtained such as your place of residence and other identifying information that will appear on you ID.
How to Renew Your Drivers License
A driver’s license is your key to freedom and mobility. That’s why it’s important to renew your license on schedule before (or, at least, as soon as) it expires.
Driving on an expired license is a serious issue and according to what state you live in can carry a number of different penalties from tickets, to fines, vehicle impoundment, or in some cases, arrest.
While these can vary from state to state, it is always against the law to drive without a valid driver’s license.
License Renewal in Each State
Driver’s licenses in the United States are issued by individual states, districts, or territories, and many of these states or territories require license holders to renew their driver’s licenses every four years, though a lot of states require renewal every eight years.
Also, many states often use your birthday as the expiration date for your license, making remembering to renew your license easier.
Renewing an Expired Drivers License
If you forget to renew your license and you are caught driving with an expired one you are at a risk of getting a ticket. This ticket is designed to prompt you to renew your license before a designated date or else you will be fined.
Your penalty is based on the state or district in which you live and often the longer your license has been expired the more your fine will be. In some states driving on an expired license can mean license suspension and even jail time.
Though the cost of not renewing your driver’s license can also extend to your insurance.
If you are caught driving on an expired license than your insurance rates risk going up and are difficult to get back down again. If you are stopped while driving with an expired license you also may have points added to your record.
These points can seriously impact your insurance premiums especially when you have to renew your policy.
Perhaps the most serious thing to consider is if you get into a car accident if you’re driving with an expired license. If this happens your car insurance provider could not honor your claim and you could be liable for damage to your own vehicle and the vehicles of others.
Drivers License Renewal Process
While penalties for expired driver’s licenses also vary from state to state, so too does the driver’s license renewal process. Depending on where you are it can be very simple or quite difficult to renew your license.
Often times the process involves stopping by your local DMV office to wait in line to renew your license. Though some states allow you to renew your driver’s license online.
A lot of states require a brand new photo, so be sure to be prepared for that if you’re renewing in person. You also might be charged a fee to renew your license if it is expired.
Another good reason to renew your license on time is that you may be required to retake your driving test again. This can include either the written or road test or even both, so don’t hesitate.
Renewing a Driver’s License Online
Most states do not offer online driver’s license renewal. Your best option is to contact your local DMV and schedule an in-person appointment to renew your driver’s license.
Replacing A Lost Drivers License
Losing your driver’s license, or even having it stolen, isn’t a fun experience. It can also bring with it a whole host of problems, making it difficult and even impossible to drive or travel without it.
As it is illegal to drive without a license, if your’s is lost or stolen, you’ll need to take immediate steps to replace it.
How to Replace a Lost License
“I lost my driver’s license. How do I replace it?”
This is a question we would never like to ask. Unfortunately, many of us find us in the position where we misplaced our wallet/purse, have been the victim of theft, or simply misplaced or driver’s license.
First things first – Most states require that you file a police report. This report serves as the official statement that your license has been lost or stolen. Some states require a police report in order to replace your license.
Your state-specific page will have more information on these requirements.
Next, you’ll need to obtain a duplicate license to replace your original. You can often find these forms online, but you’ll need your driver’s license number and some other documents to fill them out.
If you’re out of your home state when you lose your license, you’ll want to look up your state’s driver’s license entity online. This should have information on how to replace your license if you’re currently out of town.
Though if you’re out of state you’ll usually be required to apply for your replacement license online, by mail, or email so that you can receive it by mail before returning home.
Otherwise, you’ll have to wait until you get home to apply for a replacement, as long as you won’t be driving until you get back.
Replacing Your License Online Or By Phone
If you’re traveling, some states will allow you to apply for a replacement license over the phone or Internet, or even by a mail-in form. Though often times these states require you to have your proof of residency and a photo up-to-date on their system.
Sometimes these types of quick applications also carry extra fees in addition to the standard replacement fee.
It’s also useful to know that some states will send you a temporary driver’s license instead of a permanent license replacement. These temporary licenses are usually only valid for a certain amount of time, requiring you to replace your license permanently when you get back home.
Replacing Your Drivers License In Person
If you’re home when your license is lost or stolen then you can personally visit your local Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to have your license replaced. In fact, some states only allow you to apply for a replacement license in person.
Your individual state page will have more information on the specifics and requirements.
It’s also worth remembering that your DMV might also have a system organized to flag up lost or stolen licenses.
This system can send notifications if someone other than yourself uses your license, so it’s important to remember to report and replace your lost or stolen driver’s license at your earliest opportunity.
New Drivers License Application Guide
If you’re applying for a driver’s license for the first time you may have some questions. It’s important to understand how the process works and what deadlines you need to meet.
How to Apply for a New Drivers License
Most states require restricted driver’s licenses for those who are applying for a license who are at the minimum age.
Graduate Drivers License Application
These restricted licenses act as learner’s permits of sorts and the age at which you can apply for them varies from state to state. These graduated licensing laws mostly apply to teenage drivers and the licenses are usually called something like “provisional driver” or “intermediate license.”
The graduated license is designed to protect the safety of a new driver and their passengers, usually by limiting how many people they can drive and what hours they can drive in.
Drivers Education And New License Application
If you’re going to apply for a new license, you’ll usually need to take part in a driver’s education program.
These courses are often offered through a high school program or professional driving school. These programs incorporate practical driving lessons with a qualified instructor that are used to certify the education required to obtain a driver’s license.
If you’re an adult applying for a driver’s license for the first time, depending on what state you live in, you may be required to take a driver’s education course before applying as well.
If you’re an adult driver with a new license you also may be subject to the same restrictions as a new teenage driver for a set period of time, which can range anywhere from a few months to one or two years.
During this probationary time, any traffic violations or accidents may have stronger penalties and more serious suspensions than there would be for a more experienced driver.
Applying for a Commercial Drivers License (CDL)
New commercial driver’s licenses (CDLs) also vary from normal driver’s licenses. Federal law dictates that drivers must be 21 years of age to operate a commercial vehicle on interstate roads in any state.
Thus anyone who wants to apply for a CDL must be 21 years old. Though some states do offer restricted CDLs that are only valid to drive a commercial vehicle in that specific state to drivers who are 18 years old and over.
Driver’s License Application: Fees & Requirements
While procedures differ state to state, you’ll most likely need to go to your local Department Of Motor Vehicle (DMV) office to apply for a license.
You’ll also need to take some documents with you to prove your identity. These can include proof of your social security number, your passport, and proof of residence in your state.
You will also have to complete an application form, pay an application fee, and pass a written, vision, and practical test to certify your driving knowledge and skills.
You can find more specific information on the requirements of each state and their traffic laws on their dedicated pages so that you can be certain that you have everything you need to meet your state’s specifications.
State By State DMV Drivers License Guides
Alabama DMV Drivers License Guide
Alaska DMV Drivers License Guide
Arizona DMV Drivers License Guide
Arkansas DMV Drivers License Guide
California DMV Drivers License Guide
Colorado DMV Drivers License Guide
Connecticut DMV Drivers License Guide
Delaware DMV Drivers License Guide
Florida DMV Drivers License Guide
Georgia DMV Drivers License Guide
Hawaii DMV Drivers License Guide
Idaho DMV Drivers License Guide
Illinois DMV Drivers License Guide
Indiana DMV Drivers License Guide
Iowa DMV Drivers License Guide
Kansas DMV Drivers License Guide
Kentucky DMV Drivers License Guide
Louisiana DMV Drivers License Guide
Maine DMV Drivers License Guide
Maryland DMV Drivers License Guide
Massachusetts DMV Drivers License Guide
Michigan DMV Drivers License Guide
Minnesota DMV Drivers License Guide
Mississippi DMV Drivers License Guide
Missouri DMV Drivers License Guide
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Montana DMV Drivers License Guide
Nebraska DMV Drivers License Guide
Nevada DMV Drivers License Guide
New Hampshire DMV Drivers License Guide
New Jersey DMV Drivers License Guide
New Mexico DMV Drivers License Guide
New York DMV Drivers License Guide
North Carolina DMV Drivers License Guide
North Dakota DMV Drivers License Guide
Ohio DMV Drivers License Guide
Oklahoma DMV Drivers License Guide
Oregon DMV Drivers License Guide
Pennsylvania DMV Drivers License Guide
Rhode Island DMV Drivers License Guide
South Carolina DMV Drivers License Guide
South Dakota DMV Drivers License Guide
Tennessee DMV Drivers License Guide
Texas DMV Drivers License Guide
Utah DMV Drivers License Guide
Vermont DMV Drivers License Guide
Virginia DMV Drivers License Guide
Washington DMV Drivers License Guide
West Virginia DMV Drivers License Guide
Wisconsin DMV Drivers License Guide
Wyoming DMV Drivers License Guide