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Can I hold driver's licenses from two different states at the same time?


Question: Can I possess a driver's license for two different states at the same time?

Answer: State laws differ, but, in general, you cannot possess two different state's driver's license at the same time.

Normally, you need to be licensed in the state that you are considered to have permanent residency in and that license would be good to use throughout the United States to drive as long as it's valid. However, there are some exceptions to this general rule and thus you are allowed to obtain a second license without surrendering your primary license.

Two driver's licenses aren't usually allowed since it can be confusing to keep an accurate driving record for the person in two states or a second state doesn't want to license you so that you can avoid suspensions, penalties, etc. in another state. That is why no matter what type of license you are applying for the state's licensing office will check with the National Driver Registry (NDR). This database lists problem drivers who have serious offenses on their record such as a DUI or those whose license has been suspended, revoked, canceled, etc.

The one state that we are aware of that allows you to obtain a second license is Florida. The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (HSMV) states that part-time residents may elect to retain their valid out-of-state license and receive a Florida license which states "Valid in Florida Only." So in most all states one has to turn in or exchange their previous state's license for a new license when they move to a new state, but Florida allows you to keep your other state's license and carry a Florida only license.

What allows this is Florida Statute section 322.03(1)(B) which states that a person who does not drive a commercial motor vehicle is not required to surrender a license issued by another jurisdiction, upon a showing to the department that such license is necessary because of employment or part-time residence.

This statute goes on to say that any person who retains a driver's license because of employment or part-time residence shall, upon qualifying for a license in this state, be issued a driver's license which shall be valid within this state only. A person may not have more than one valid Florida driver's license at any time.

If a person does turn in their license to get a Florida driver's license then Florida law notes that all surrendered licenses may be returned by the department to the issuing jurisdiction together with information that the licensee is now licensed in a new jurisdiction or may be destroyed by the department, which shall notify the issuing jurisdiction of such destruction.

While most states require you to surrender a driver's license if you obtain a new license there, Florida allows you to retain your "home state" license when living part-time in Florida and have a need to keep your other driver's license but obtain a FL only license. Other states may have similar laws, but you would need to check with the Department of Motor Vehicles of specific state in which you want to find out if two licenses are allowed since most states do not allow this.

No matter what state you are residing in, or licensed in, you can get state car insurance rate quotes here with us.  Your car should be insured in the state that the vehicle is garaged and driven in for the majority of the year.  So, if you own homes in different states and keep a vehicle at each residence, then you'll need to insure each vehicle based on where the vehicle is located.

UPDATE: When this question was originally asked, there was a "Florida only" license available. However, effective November 1, 2009, a Florida law was passed that prohibits the HSMV from issuing a "Valid in Florida Only" license. This change along with a few other changes regarding Florida driver's licenses were made in order to comply with Real ID Act mandates.

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9 Responses to "Can I hold driver's licenses from two different states at the same time?"
  1. Karen Cangialosi

    I was informed I need to obtain a dual license. I reside in Florida & have a Florida license; however, I also have a car located in New Jersey. I was driving it today & a police man pulled me over since my NJ license plate was expired. He told me I could obtain a dual license from the NJ DMV. How do I obtain that? I do not want to continue to be pulled over.

  2. Ryan M Daley

    REAL ID is a mandate on Federal agencies, restricting the circumstances under which they may accept state-issued driver's licenses and identification cards for official purposes. Participation by states is voluntary, although Federal agencies are prohibited from accepting driver's licenses or identification cards from non-compliant states for official purposes (e.g., boarding aircraft, accessing federal facilities, and entering nuclear power plants). This does not stop states who do not want to do everything the federal level at one point wanted them to (e.g. Obama was against it) from doing what they want regarding governing themselves. Many states have held out and/or rejected Real ID. In such a state you can use a passport to fly.

  3. Doan

    Florida is under the Real ID Act now and you must give up your driver license.

  4. thomas p foster

    Can I renew my Florida-only license?

  5. Ryan

    I have a question. I am an out-of-state student in NC. I am apply for in-state tuition, and I have to show my intent to become a permanent resident (which I will not be, but I have lived here a year and it will save me $5,000 in tuition). My vehicle is registered in Iowa and I have Iowa plates and license. In order to be considered an in state student I need to get my NC license, but I plan on moving back to Iowa and don't want to go through the hassle of changing over everything. Can I just hold on to my old license, and present a passport or birth certificate to get a NC license?

  6. Anonymous

    I am a bit confused that Florida allows dual drivers licenses from another State? As the Federal Law Under the "Real ID Act" Provisions of 2005 that mandated all States be compliant by 2008. It states that it must " Refuse to issue a driver's license or ID card to someone with a driver's license issued by another state without confirmation that the person is terminating or has terminated the other license." please double check you facts. http://www.cga.ct.gov/2005/rpt/2005-r-0482.htm

  7. Anonymous

    Good info and solves a problem for me.

  8. Anonymous

    Very help full

  9. Anonymous

    This information is so helpful and much appreciated!

Disclaimer: Answers and comments provided are for information purposes. They are not intended to substitute informed professional advice. These responses should not be interpreted as a recommendation to buy or sell any insurance product, or to provide financial or legal advice. Please refer to your insurance policy for specific coverage and exclusion information. Please read our Terms of Service.

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