I can drive here, yes?
March 18, 2009 1:36 PM   Subscribe

Driving with an out-of-state license, valid for a state in which I no longer reside.

I've been moving around a bunch lately. Got my PA driver's license renewed in CA just shy of a year ago. Now I'm living in NYC (~6 months) and haven't had the time to register/renew here yet. I'm going home to PA to visit my parents and want to drive a few places while I'm there. Is this technically legal? Am I likely to run into any trouble? I'm a good, responsible driver with no record to speak of. I don't have auto insurance, but my parents do, and I'd be driving their car. Am I way over-thinking this (probably yes)? Help me give my parents some piece of mind. On a side note, would I run into any trouble renting a car with my CA license?

Hopefully this was pretty clear and comprehensive - I'll be monitoring the thread closely to make any clarifications, as necessary.

Thanks Mefites!
posted by xiaolongbao to Travel & Transportation (12 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
As long as you have a drivers license which has not expired, you are permitted to drive anywhere you like. Licenses do not automatically become invalid when you change your address, even when crossing state lines.

Car insurance goes with vehicles, not drivers, and insures everyone who drives that car, so your parents' insurance will cover you if you borrow their vehicle. Getting a license without insurance can be a trick, because most DMVs will require proof of insurance before they'll issue a license, ut because you don't seem to own a car, this is probably alright.

You do need to get a New York license, but again, as long as it hasn't expired, your PA one is still valid.
posted by valkyryn at 1:42 PM on March 18, 2009

Yeah, you're overthinking this. As long as the license isn't expired and is still valid in the state in which it was issued, you can use it in any of the 50 states and the District of Columbia. Hell, probably even Puerto Rico and Guam. Given that a large chunk of car rentals are done by people who are traveling, the fact that you have an out-of-state license isn't even remotely a problem for them.
posted by dhammond at 1:43 PM on March 18, 2009

You should be fine..and I've never heard of needing insurance to get a license before, that doesn't make much sense.
posted by mattsweaters at 1:46 PM on March 18, 2009

Off topic, but..

You should be fine..and I've never heard of needing insurance to get a license before, that doesn't make much sense.

North Carolina requires proof of insurance to get a license. If you don't have insurance, you can only drive fleet vehicles. Not saying it makes sense, just saying those are NC's rules.
posted by mandapanda at 2:00 PM on March 18, 2009

Also, I was told every time I moved that we needed to get a new license within 30 days. I haven't heard of anyone getting busted for something like that, but I hadn't heard of anyone getting a jaywalking ticket until a few weeks ago either.
posted by theichibun at 2:03 PM on March 18, 2009

Response by poster: Ok, a couple follow-ups

* My license is CA (sorry if that was confusing)
* I don't need a new license (at least, I don't think so from the above responses), so the insurance question is mostly just in case i get in an accident while driving a car that isn't mine

@theichibun: i've heard that too. just been too busy/lazy. remains a concern in the back of my mind since i don't drive that much.

Thanks for all the responses so far. Much appreciated and very reassuring.
posted by xiaolongbao at 2:11 PM on March 18, 2009

While it's true that the license is "valid", what theichibun says is also correct. Many states have laws requiring you to get a local license within 30 days of becoming a resident or acquiring a job within the state.

(Personal anecdote: I was once hassled by a cop after I was pulled over for something else and had been living in FL for more than a year but still had a NY license -- he did not give me a ticket for it -- just told me to take care of it "this week")
posted by dyslexictraveler at 2:12 PM on March 18, 2009

If anything, you're more likely to get in trouble with NYS for not getting an NYS driver's license within the required time period. And that is very unlikely.
posted by oaf at 2:13 PM on March 18, 2009

Best answer: Yeah, you are over thinking this. You'll be fine. Driving your parents' car, you will be covered by their insurance should anything happen. And yes, you can get a rental car with an out-of-state license, otherwise business trips would be very difficult indeed.

I do advise you to get licensed in your state of residence though - some DMVs will actually charge a hefty fee if you do not update your address in a timely manner (usually 30 days). And I have seen many, many people who had to pay up. It's rare, but it does happen.

IAAIA with a P&C license in all three states involved, but IANYIA. If your parents are that concerned about the situation, have them call their agent - they should answer any questions they may have and put them at ease.
posted by sephira at 2:19 PM on March 18, 2009

Response by poster: Thank you for all the responses. Please feel free to add more details!
posted by xiaolongbao at 2:32 PM on March 18, 2009

When I first moved to Seattle, I kept my Oregon license for the first year out of laziness. The first time I got pulled over, the cop gave me a warning. The second time, that cop gave me a ticket for not getting my Washington license within the 30 days.
posted by nomisxid at 2:57 PM on March 18, 2009

Best answer: if you are ever pulled over and produce an out of state license, they'll ask why - i don't care what the truth is, the answer is "i just moved here 3 weeks ago" or " my permanent address is in _____".

i'm still licensed in washington. i've been to texas and now oklahoma. i'm keeping that baby as long as it's valid.
posted by nadawi at 8:05 PM on March 18, 2009

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