If I have two drivers licenses, are they both valid?
January 3, 2008 2:52 PM   Subscribe

I lost my driver's license, got a replacement, and then found the original. I now have two drivers licenses. Are they both valid? Is there anything wrong with carrying the old one sometimes?

A month ago I lost my driver's license, got a replacement, and then a few days ago I found the original. I now have two drivers licenses. Are they both valid? Is there anything wrong with carrying the old one sometimes? I use two different wallets, so it would be convenient to keep one license in each wallet.

Is this illegal? The old license is not expired... it is still good for three more years. Can I still use it sometimes? Would a bar turn it away if it scanned it? Both licenses have the same drivers license number.

If it matters, I live in Washington state.
posted by stilly to Law & Government (11 answers total)
The license number & photo are all that matters (assuming there's no smart chip / RFID in there). Anyone know if WA has a smart card driver's license? Given the general government attitude toward change, I'm guessing the answer is no.

Basically, the state has issued you a license to drive. The card is not really the license. The card is merely evidence supporting that: you have obtained a license, the state knows who you are, you are competent to drive, you have a right to be in the state and are a resident thereof, etc.
posted by TeatimeGrommit at 3:02 PM on January 3, 2008

I have no idea if they're valid, but keep one of them as a backup. I had my ID stolen and to get another one I had to round up my high school diploma, and my birth certificate, and an employment ID with a photo, and my social security card.

Until then I had no government issued photo ID. It was a nightmare. Of course I am living in NY and my stolen ID was from another state, but still--it's a great IDea (heh) to keep the backup handy.
posted by sondrialiac at 3:07 PM on January 3, 2008

I don't know about Washington specifically, but generally when you get a new licence before the old one expires they recommend that you destroy the old one. Furthermore, if the expiry date on your replacement licence is different than on your old licence, it is quite possible that your old licence card is now technically void.

That said, I don't think it is actually illegal to have two licence cards. While it may be unusual, if all the info is correct it shouldn't be a problem. (Now of course, I could be completely wrong. You should probably ask at the DMV)
posted by wsp at 3:11 PM on January 3, 2008

Call the DMV and ask. Don't give them any specific info. That would be the only way to know for sure.
posted by special-k at 3:21 PM on January 3, 2008

It might not be valid for driving purposes, but most places will accept it as valid photo id.
posted by blue_beetle at 3:27 PM on January 3, 2008

I got busted in Seattle once for this very thing, when I got pulled over for speeding - I had my old one with me and the new one was at home, so according to the officer I was technically driving without a valid license - a reissue invalidates the old license. That said, they'll never know unless you're pulled over, but the most recent valid license is the only one that is a legally acceptable document.
posted by pdb at 4:12 PM on January 3, 2008

Hmm. When this happened to me in Washington, they recommended that if I found the old license to destroy it, as it's not valid anymore. I don't remember if the expiration date was different or not, but I'm thinking there's probably some sort of bar code difference on the back of the license itself. I would call the DMV to be absolutely safe.
posted by calistasm at 4:47 PM on January 3, 2008

I have five old drivers licenses. I never turn mine in when I get another one, and I've lost a couple, then found them. I keep them in my car in case I get pulled over next time I lose my "real" one -- in the past I've explained that I have a valid license, and while this one is invalid, all the ID info on it is correct. They then go back to the copmobile to look up my particulars. I've never been cited or reprimanded for not having a valid license on me, although I suppose that's a matter of the officer's discretion.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 5:33 PM on January 3, 2008

You can use them interchangeably until the expiration date. Then you'll be back to having one valid one with the new expiration date.
posted by nax at 7:01 PM on January 3, 2008

If you do end up getting in some trouble a simple "I'm so sorry, I thought I'd lost my old one but it must have turned up somehow and I swapped them." Seems plausible enough.
posted by Octoparrot at 8:28 PM on January 3, 2008

This may depend on the state you reside in. When I moved from CA to IL and wanted to keep my CA license, I had to go through a nightmare of paperwork with the IL DMV explaining that I had "lost" my old license, had to re-take the written test (because of the missing ID), sign some affidavit swearing that if it turned up I would relinquish it immediately to the state of Illinois, etc. Whether this is because IL is overly anal about this sort of thing or because it was an out-of-state ID, I can't say, but I do know that another acquaintance of mine (in IL) was stopped by the cops, who noticed that he had two licenses in his wallet. The cop took the old one, telling him it was illegal to keep. Whether this is true, or just police grandstanding, who knows, but it seems like there are some states which take issue with this sort of thing. If you really want to stay on the "right side" of the law, the suggestion above of calling may be a good one. Provided you get someone on the other end of the phone who knows what they're talking about, of course.

That being said, if you don't carry them both at the same time, you shouldn't have a problem. Use Octoparrot's line about "Oh, gee, I didn't even realise this wasn't the current one. Sorry, officer!"

If you're looking for a second form of ID that won't be questioned, the simplest route is usually to get a state ID and license at the same time. Makes it pretty painless, in my experience.
posted by the luke parker fiasco at 11:17 PM on January 3, 2008

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