State laws differ however yes, in many states you do not need a driver's license but can register and title a vehicle with just a state identification (ID) card.
Normally one is not required to have a valid license but will need at least a State ID to purchase and then register a vehicle. There are those that are unlicensed due to a handicap, etc that want to buy a car in their own name but will have someone that is fully licensed drive them around and so states allow a person just to show identification.
For example in California a driver's license is not required to be shown to buy or register a car. However if you do not have a driver's license it is very difficult to get insurance which can be an issue in most all states. In CA car insurance is needed for a car that is registered in the state.
The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) states that individuals are required to have a valid form of Pennsylvania identification in order to make application to title and register a vehicle in PA.
PennDOT notes that the Department of Driver Services will only allow agents to issue title and registration documents to customers who provide one of the following credentials for identification purposes:
- a valid Pennsylvania Photo Driver's License
- a valid Pennsylvania Photo Identification Card
- a valid Pennsylvania Photo Exempt Driver's License
- a valid Pennsylvania Photo Exempt Identification Card
- a valid U.S. Armed Forces Common Access Card - Dependents of Armed Forces Personnel must provide a valid United States Uniformed Services Identification and Privilege Card (DD Form 1173)
So while many states will allow you to buy and register a vehicle without a valid driver's license unless you have a way in which to obtain auto insurance for the vehicle than it will be difficult to actually register the car without proof of insurance.
Most all insurance companies require a valid driver's license to have an auto insurance policy since a person's driving record is one main rating factor. In some state you must show proof of insurance to a dealer in order to take the newly purchased vehicle off the lot.
Some dealer's may mandate that a person show proof of insurance when leaving with the car they purchased to lessen any perceived liability. Another factor may be if you financed the car through the dealership. If you did so then it is likely they will require you to obtain auto insurance before taking ownership of the car.
So if you are planning on registering a vehicle without a license but have a way in which to get insurance on it than you likely will not have difficulties in most states with registration. To find out what documents your state requires for registering a vehicle contact your state's Department of Motor Vehicles.