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How do you renew your driver's license in California if it has expired?


In California you may renew your license in person, by mail or over the Internet. You need to meet certain conditions though to be able to renew your CA driver's license by mail or through the Internet.

To be eligible to renew your license by mail, you must be able to answer NO to all of the following questions:

  • Does your driver license expire more than 60 days from today's date?
  • Will you be 70 years of age or older when your current driver license expires?
  • Are you currently on any type of driving probation or suspension?
  • Did you violate a written promise to appear in court within the last two years?
  • Have you already received two consecutive four year extensions by mail?

So if your license is already expired then it would appear that you could not renew it through the mail option.

The Driver License Renewal-by-Internet allows applicants who are eligible to renew their Driver License by mail, and meet certain other criteria, the ability to renew over the Internet. You may be eligible to renew your license by Internet if you receive a Renewal By Mail (RBM) Notice with a Renewal Identification Number (RIN).

If you did not receive a RIN through the mail then it appears you also could not take advantage of the Internet option for renewing your license.

To renew your expired California driver's license and cannot renew through the mail or Internet options then the CA Department of Motor Vehicles site states that you should visit your local DMV office. They advise that you make an appointment for faster service. To renew your license at a DMV office location you will need to:

  • Complete application form DL 44. (An original DL 44 form must be submitted.) A DL 44 form can be requested by calling 1-800-777-0133. Copies will not be accepted OR bring in the renewal notice DMV mailed to you (Cross out any old information and write in the current information).
  • Give a thumb print.
  • Have your picture taken.
  • Pay the application fee.
  • Pass a vision exam.
  • Look at your renewal notice. It will tell you if you need to take a written test. If you must take a test, it will include traffic laws and sign test. You will only need to answer the first 18 questions of the 36 question exam. A passing score is at least 15 correct answers. You have three chances to pass.

After you complete the requirements you will be issued an interim license valid for 60 days until you receive your new photo license in the mail. If you have not received your license after 60 days, call the DMV to check the status of it. 

Please be aware that it is not legal to drive with an expired driver license. There are not any late fees associated with a driver license renewal whether you renew it by Internet, in person or through the mail. While there are no penalties, you may be cited by a police officer for driving with an expired driver license. If you are a commercial driver and your license has been expired over two years, you will need to also take a driving test in the type of commercial vehicle you will be driving.

If you need further information on how to renew your license after it has already expired, please visit your local DMV or contact the CA DMV at 1-800-777-0133. Remember that if you have to go into the DMV office to get your license renewed that you will need someone else to drive you there since driving with an expired license is illegal.


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2 Responses to "How do you renew your driver's license in California if it has expired?"
  1. Tara Tompson

    I'm so glad I came across the site. I had to renew my license and didn't even think about it until it had 3 days left. I was going to be out of town for a while so thankfully I could do it online.

  2. Visitor

    This doesn't directly answer the question I have, which is can I renew an expired driver's license through the Internet or mail?