Two Licenses, One Cup
September 28, 2011 1:21 PM   Subscribe

My husband, having lived in 4 states in 4 years, is trying to get a New York State driver's license. Only problem is that apparently two out of state licenses are still active, and the DMV refuses to give him a license.

Asking for the mister, who is beyond frustrated by this.

My husband and I recently moved to New York State from Virginia. We lived in Virginia only one year--before that, we lived in Florida for one year, and he lived in NJ a year before that.

When he moved to Florida, he got a Florida driver's license from the DMV. They hole-punched his old NJ license, and he destroyed it when he got home, assuming it had been canceled. He's kept his Florida license since, and has a clean driving record on it.

We moved to New York State a few months ago and are planning to stay. My husband also recently bought a shiny new motorcycle, so he's extra eager to get a NYS license so that he can get a motorcycle learner's permit. But when he went to the DMV, he was told that his New Jersey license is still active, and that they won't license him because he has two state NDR records.

They told him to get his driving records from first Florida, then New Jersey (necessitating two DMV trips), proving that both records are in good standing and that his New Jersey license has been canceled. Though he was told on the phone by the NJ MVC that his New Jersey license has been canceled, his driving record arrived today and the paperwork shows that his license there is valid and in "good standing." It expires in March 2012. His Florida license is also in good standing, and expires in 2017.

We can't find any information on the NJ MVC website about surrendering or canceling this older license (which he doesn't have, anyway), and apparently New York State cannot cancel both licenses and give him a NYS license. He would prefer not to wait until March to get his New York license, especially with a beautiful new Suzuki waiting. Any advice on what he can do, or someone he can contact to get this resolved?
posted by PhoBWanKenobi to Law & Government (11 answers total)
Can he ask for new/replacement NJ and FL licenses? Then he could surrender those to NY.
posted by sandmanwv at 1:23 PM on September 28, 2011

Ask Fla for a motorcycle license?
posted by JohnnyGunn at 1:45 PM on September 28, 2011

We're physically in NYS, which makes traveling to the Florida DMV more of a pain in the ass than it would normally be. He's willing to try getting a duplicate NJ license and surrendering it--we'll call (probably multiple) DMVs about that option tomorrow.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 1:47 PM on September 28, 2011

NY has by far the most annoying DMV of any state I have ever lived in. Could you get NJ to send him a new copy of his old license, so he can surrender it? Or can he go to a NJ DMV to get the license canceled? That seems like the easiest route since FL is much further away than NJ.
posted by bedhead at 1:49 PM on September 28, 2011

I'm not sure why you would think that NYS DMV can cancel licenses issued by other states. Seems the solution here is rather simple: Go to the DMV in NJ, tell them you lost your NJ license and you need a replacement. Ignore all the ancillary details about FLA and NYS.

Get the license from NJ.

Go back to NYS DMV, say, "Here's my NJ license; do what you will with it; give me my NYS license."

posted by dfriedman at 2:38 PM on September 28, 2011

I'm not sure why you would think that NYS DMV can cancel licenses issued by other states. Seems the solution here is rather simple: Go to the DMV in NJ, tell them you lost your NJ license and you need a replacement. Ignore all the ancillary details about FLA and NYS.

Because some states will mark an out-of-state license as surrendered without forcing you to have the license in hand.

It looks like the driver's abstract he received today may be valid in place of a NJ driver's license, but he'll call the NY DMV tomorrow to be sure. We welcome any other suggestions before then, though, just in case there are any other bases we should be covering.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 2:56 PM on September 28, 2011

So there are two problems here. The first is that he needs a copy of his Florida driving records. That's an easy one and their website has the instructions. They apparently have a free online form that will give you basic "status" information, and then you can send away for the full record if you need it. Don't cancel the Florida license, because then he could wind up with no license, which is what you want to avoid.

New Jersey is a bigger issue. It's supposed to be cancelled, but the piece of paper you have says that its not. I'd try to reach them by phone and get confirmation as to whether the license is really still active or not. Assuming that this fails, I'd be inclined to go for the boring paperwork approach: send them an actual deadtree letter laying out the basic facts ("This license. It's supposed to be cancelled. It is not. Cancel it. Thanks.") attach copies of any documents you think would help, including a copy of the incorrect NJ record, and cross your fingers.

Bureaucrats tend to respond to paperwork. It may take them a little while to get to you, but sending an old school letter sometimes does the trick.
posted by zachlipton at 3:03 PM on September 28, 2011

Ignore all the ancillary details about FLA and NYS.

It doesn't sound like that will work. NYS won't give him a license because their computer shows that he has both a NJ and FL license already. He needs to only have one license, and then it seems like NYS can cancel the other one when he gets his new NYS license.
posted by zachlipton at 3:05 PM on September 28, 2011

He should call NJ and Florida and change his address with them to New York. He's legally required to do that anyway. Since he's no longer a resident that should then set off what's needed to cancel those licenses. Ask first, of course.

Also, consider joining AAA. I suspect they've handled this before.
posted by jwells at 5:58 PM on September 28, 2011

If you do end up having to make road trips for any of this paperwork, bear in mind that *any* state DMV can process your paperwork, not just the one near the city you lived in. So find the one closest to the state line/on your line of travel & you'll save yourself some gas money & time.
posted by Ys at 6:02 PM on September 28, 2011

You might want to try your state Assemblymember's district office. You can get that information at Project Vote Smart. I worked in an assemblywoman's office for a few years and the chief of staff had been there for 15 years and had a hookup at the DMV. That person would help with our constituents' problems.
posted by fyrebelley at 9:34 PM on September 28, 2011 [1 favorite]

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