Can I drive with an expired New Jersey drivers' license in Spain?
July 18, 2006 9:20 AM   Subscribe

Can I drive with an expired New Jersey drivers' license in Spain?

I have a old NJ drivers' license that expired on June 30th of this year. I am going back to renew it in August but in the meanwhile I need to rent a car for work. Is this possible? You can drive with an expired license in the states, but I doubt I will be able to rent a car hear. My hunch is no, but just wanted to see if anyone had any ideas.
posted by BigBrownBear to Law & Government (17 answers total)
i just set up a car rental by email (from the US) in New Zealand for January 2007. We had to send them driver license info for my wife and myself, and they were quick to notice that my wife's license will expire in December 2006, and stated that they would like the updated info once her new license arrives. So my assumption would be that yes, the rental places will notice and possibly not rent to you... unless you can find a smalltime rental place - like some garage that rents out a few cars, and isn't part of a big chain.
posted by chr1sb0y at 9:26 AM on July 18, 2006

You can drive with an expired license in the states

You can't do that in Illinois.
posted by MrZero at 9:28 AM on July 18, 2006

Very few states will allow you to drive with an expired license. It is precisely the same as not having a license at all. A police officer is likely to assume you are also uninsured, and at the very least will ticket you. And that's if you're lucky. They can tow your car on the spot.
posted by Malor at 9:32 AM on July 18, 2006

Response by poster: Ok. You are all confirming what I thought. In jersey you can (or at least you used to) be able to drive with an expired license although you could be fined. Don't know if that changed.
posted by BigBrownBear at 9:36 AM on July 18, 2006

BigBrownBear: Being fined normally means you weren't allowed to. But, since your license expired on June 30 of this, year the fact that the state offices were closed seems to apply to you:

Administrative Order 2006-01 and Closing FAQ. So it appears your license may be valid until July 31, 2006. Of course, trying to convince someone in Spain of that fact might be hard.
posted by skynxnex at 9:45 AM on July 18, 2006

I am not a lawyer, and I don't play one on the Internets, but you've never been able to drive on an expired license in New Jersey or anywhere else. That's what "expired" means - no longer valid. "You can do it but you could be fined" = it's against the law.

See the NJ General Statutes, Title 39, which covers motor vehicle licensing and registration:
39:3-10. No person shall drive a motor vehicle on a public highway in this State unless the person is under supervision while participating in a behind-the-wheel driving course pursuant to section 6 of P.L.1977, c.25 (C.39:3-13.2a) or is in possession of a validated permit, or a provisional or basic driver's license issued to him in accordance with this article.
posted by enrevanche at 9:49 AM on July 18, 2006

Response by poster: thanks skynxnex. That's a great loophole that I didn't think of. Would be hard to convince them of that, but on the other hand, they love paperwork and special forms here.
posted by BigBrownBear at 9:51 AM on July 18, 2006

If the police can't understand english, what is the problem. Typically you should have an IDP which is basically an officially recognized translation. Of course, the validity of those are predicated on a valid license. So AAA may not issue you one from an expired license. From what I recall the issue isn't important at car rental places in Spain.
posted by JJ86 at 9:54 AM on July 18, 2006

Response by poster: Yeah, I am going to get an IDP but it's a pain in the ass to do that from here. Hence the trip back to lovely Jersey in august.
posted by BigBrownBear at 9:56 AM on July 18, 2006

In jersey you can (or at least you used to) be able to drive with an expired license although you could be fined.

Sorry, that's one of the stupidest things I've read in a long time. I guess in BigBrownBear's world, everything is okay. You can drive 120 miles per hour, although again with the fine thing, and of course you may get arrested, but that doesn't actually make it wrong because you can do it.

Of course you can't legally drive in Spain, or New Jersey, or anywhere else without a valid, up-to-date license. What would be the damn point of the license otherwise?
posted by robhuddles at 10:41 AM on July 18, 2006

I just got back from Barcelona and southern France, drove over 600km, crossed boarders, I never once saw a police car, or anyone pulled over on the road. You do need to be on the lookout for speed traps(which are just cameras, no people to chase you down), but ironically they're labeled on most road maps and even road signs in some areas...looks like a circle with waves coming out of the circle, from left to right if I remember correctly. Granted this may not be legal, but I wasn't worried. Have fun!
posted by killyb at 12:57 PM on July 18, 2006

People in New Jersey have licenses? ;-)

Ok, just kidding. And add California to the list of states that will ding you hard for driving with an expired license. I got stopped once and almost had my car towed because my license had expired 1 week earlier. They let me have someone else come pick up the car, fortunately.

Why didn't you renew it? It's a pretty simple procedure out here. And it's best that you try to avoid getting into trouble in Spain, mmmkay? :)
posted by drstein at 2:02 PM on July 18, 2006

Response by poster: In bigbrownbear's world, I have been stopped three times in cars where the driver had an expired license and every time there was only the threat of a fine, twice waved by a nice cop (I was never the driver). Previously, there was a $60 (approx.) fee for the car missing up to date drivers license, registration or insurance card. I have no idea what the law actually is now - i am speaking of my experience. Then again, i havent actually lived in nj for a while so i dont know what the deal is. also, that is why i havent been able to renew it. you have to go in person now.
posted by BigBrownBear at 2:41 PM on July 18, 2006

Over here in Europe, it seems to be the case that, once you have a licence, you have it for life, or until you're old enough not to care. For example, my UK driving licence doesn't expire until 2040, when I hit my 70th birthday.

Generally, having a licence issued is proof that you can drive. Expiry of the licence is just an arbitrary condition that hasn't really been bought into over here. To me, it would be strange that they would even check.

Of course, I've never tried to hire a car in Spain on an expired US licence, so if you're stranded and you're life is detroyed on the basis of this advice, don't hesitate to not call me.
posted by veedubya at 3:29 PM on July 18, 2006

I think you'll probably be fine.
posted by Count Ziggurat at 8:45 PM on July 18, 2006

When you hire a car you have to show your liscense.
One of the checks is normally for when said liscense expires.
If your liscense has expired possibly your insurance is not valid. If you are involved in an accident and have no insurance you deserve what you get, which could be more than you bargained for!
posted by adamvasco at 12:39 AM on July 19, 2006

Yes. of course you can.
posted by DrtyBlvd at 4:25 AM on July 19, 2006

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