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What Happens if I Have a Valid License In One State, But it Gets Revoked in Another State?

Having your driver's license suspended or revoked can be a serious obstacle when you're trying to earn a living, raise a family, or just have a social life. But what happens when you move to another state? Does the suspension follow you, or can you obtain a valid license in the new state?

Reciprocity: The Driver License Compact

Thanks to the Driver License Compact (DLC), your driving record will follow you almost anywhere you go in the United States. The DLC is an interstate agreement that facilitates states' exchange of information regarding traffic violations, suspensions, and revocations. The compact's motto is "One Driver, One License, One Record."

Under the compact, any traffic offenses that occur in a different state are treated as if they occurred in the state where you're licensed. So, if your license is suspended in a member state, it will likely be suspended in any other member state to which you relocate.

Similarly, if you apply for a license in a new state, your suspension will likely prevent you from being issued a new license. That happens because when a person applies for a driver's license, the DMV (or applicable motor vehicle agency in the state) checks to see if the name appears on the National Driver Registration (NDR) -- a database containing the names of people who have had their license suspended or revoked.

The license compact isn't only interstate, but international in a few cases. For example, New York, Maine, and Florida all have special agreements with Quebec, allowing them to exchange information and take adverse action.

A Few Exceptions

While the majority of states are members of the Driver License Compact, there are a few exceptions. For instance, Tennessee, Wisconsin, Georgia, Michigan, and Massachusetts aren't members of the compact. Your chances of obtaining a new driver's license in a non-member state are probably greater.

In addition, in order to be penalized for an out-of-state offense, the driver's state must punish the same conduct. For example, Colorado has a careless driving statute, while Arizona does not. So, if a driver from Arizona is cited for careless driving in Colorado, the citation won't affect his driving record in Arizona. 

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