Military service members and their families move around a lot, and that can make renewing a driver’s license difficult. However, active duty service members are NOT automatically exempt from the requirements for maintaining a current, valid driver’s license from their home state.
Many but not all states have an automatic extension for driver’s license renewal. Besides, the Service Members’ Civil Relief Act does not exempt military personnel from updating their driver’s license. However, many states allow for more flexibility with license renewal. Below are the guidelines for each state; note that laws change so contacting the states DMV is always the best course of action.
Rules and fees for vehicle registration also vary by state. Many states don’t require vehicle registration with military orders. In some states, military members are entirely exempt from registration fees. Other states offer special consideration to veterans, such as discounts on registration or license plates. Again, the DMV is the best resource for such information.
Many states allow for an automatic extension for service members, valid for 30 days up to six months after discharge or return to the state (whichever comes first). In some cases, military personnel may also request a “military expiration endorsement”, which will assist them with law enforcement should they be pulled over for having an expired license. Some states like Colorado have free three-year license extensions available, within a year of expiration, if the service member submits a form to the DMV.
Additionally, many states now offer a military service or veteran’s designation on driver’s licenses and state-issued identification cards. These cards are often used for military and veterans discounts, or to prove military service. Currently, 49 states offer veterans designation on state-issued driver’s licenses or ID cards.
Can I Use My Military Identification in place of a driver’s license?
If you have a military license, which is issued for specific jobs and MOSs, then you can use that as a driver’s license.
However, the standard military DOD issued identification card is not the same as a state-issued license to drive. Military identification is only suitable for military use. although it may award the service member and their dependents discounts.
Military identification cards are valid for travel aboard airplanes and even to travel internationally, but not as a pass to operate a motor vehicle in the United States. When traveling abroad not only will they require a state issued driver’s license but many countries require an international driver’s license as well.
So while there is some flexibility with the law concerning an expired driver’s license while serving as an active duty service member, it is best to obey the law of the home of record and the laws of the state in which the service member is serving. Many law enforcement officers were prior service members and will often give more leeway to active duty service members. This does not preclude the law, and every service member should contact the local and home state DMV should they have questions of the validity of their expired license.