Yes, there is a difference between an expired license and a cancelled driver's license. Though the definition of expired and cancelled can vary from state to state due to the wording of state laws an expired license is less serious than a cancelled driver's license normally.
An expired driver's license means that you could renew your license and make it valid once again by simply going to your state's Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) and paying a fee or if it is way past your expiration date you may need to re-apply and/or take tests, such as a knowledge or driving test, to renew your license.
A canceled license however means the state has terminated your driver's license due to some specific reason.
For instance the California Vehicle Code notes in section 13100 (CVC 13100) that when used in reference to a driver's license, "cancellation" means that a driver's license certificate is terminated without prejudice and must be surrendered. Any person whose license has been canceled may immediately apply for a license. Cancellation of license may be made only when specifically authorized in this code, when application is made for a license to operate vehicles of a higher class, or when a license has been issued through error or voluntarily surrendered to the department.
Florida Statute 322.22 notes that the states DMV is authorized to cancel any driver's license, upon determining that the licensee was not entitled to the issuance thereof, or that the licensee failed to give the required or correct information in his or her application or committed any fraud in making such application, or that the licensee has two or more licenses on file with the department, each in a different name but bearing the photograph of the licensee, unless the licensee has complied with the requirements of this chapter in obtaining the licenses.
The FL HSMV may cancel any driver's license, identification card, vehicle or vessel registration, or fuel-use decal if the licensee fails to pay the correct fee or pays for the driver's license, identification card, vehicle or vessel registration, or fuel-use decal; pays any tax liability, penalty, or interest specified in chapter 207; or pays any administrative, delinquency, or reinstatement fee by a dishonored check.
An expired Florida driver's license may be renewed any time within 12 months after the expiration date, with reexamination, if required, upon payment of the required delinquent fee or taking and passing the written examination. So your expired license is not valid to drive on but you can usually make it valid without too much work.
With a cancellation of your license you are normally required to surrender your driver's license back to your DMV and get the cancellation taken off in order to obtain your license back or apply for a new driver's license.
The penalties in most states are harsher if you are found driving on a canceled license than an expired license. In many states if you just renew your license before your court date you can get the ticket reduced or dismissed while the same does not hold true for a cancelled license.
To find out how your state defines an expired license and cancelled license and what the differences are, contact your state's Department of Motor Vehicles.
To get free auto insurance quotes, click here. If you have an expired or cancelled license an insurance company may allow you to start a policy as long as you are able to get a valid license within 30 days of the inception of your policy.