driver's license in a car

Driver's licenses are essential in the United States for driving, voting, and entering places requiring ID (like bars, airports, and venues). That said, losing your driver's license when you're incarcerated is possible, making it difficult to get a job and adjust to life outside of jail or prison. The good news is that you don't have to panic because getting your license back after jail or prison is possible.

The steps to get your license back may vary based on your state. The cost may also vary. Still, we have some helpful tips to help you get your license back after incarceration.

Does Everyone Who's Incarcerated Lose Their License?

First, knowing if your license is gone after you go to jail or prison is essential. The short answer is that only some lose their license when incarcerated.

In many cases, losing your license after incarceration comes down to the charges that landed you behind bars. Charges for driving-related crimes like drag racing or driving while under the influence (DUI) may result in you losing your license.

Some charges won't cause changes to your license, but the length of your sentence may lead to your license expiring. In these cases, you'll have to renew your license when you get out.

The Difference Between Revoked, Expired, and Suspended Licenses

When you're incarcerated, one of three things may happen to your license, depending on the length and nature of the crime. Depending on the crime, your license may be suspended or revoked. It's also possible for your license to expire if you're incarcerated past its renewed date.

Suspended License

The state may suspend your license if you had a driving-related crime or fail to pay a ticket. Suspended licenses result in losing access to your license for a prolonged period. Suspensions usually last 6 months to 1 year, but it's not uncommon to see multi-year suspensions. You must serve the suspension time and pay the necessary fees to get your license back.

Revoked License

Revoked licenses are serious. The state has taken away your ability to drive indefinitely in these cases. Getting your license back is possible, but you must go through the necessary process with your state. This also means you have to pass a permit and road test again. Some states may also take away your ability to drive permanently.

Expired License

An expired license is the most common reason people lose their license after incarceration. To fix an expired license, you must submit a new picture, file some paperwork, and pay any necessary fees.

The Steps to Restore Your License

The steps to restore your license depending on the crime's severity and why you were arrested. For example, it's harder to regain your license after DUI charges than stealing. Depending on your state, there may also be some rules you need to follow. Below we list the typical steps you'll have to follow.

Determine the Status of Your License

The first step is to know what the status of your license is. It's easy to find the status of the license, but you may have to call around and wait to hear back from the DMV or courthouse. Fortunately, you can use a criminal background check search, like the one on, to learn about the status of your license.

Pay Fees

 Fees every state loves fees. Some fees will be paid to get your license back if it is suspended, revoked, or expired. Fees change based on the crime, how long it's been since you've had a license, and the type of license you want. Depending on the crime, you may also have to pay fines, court fees, and money you owe the state.

Road Test

You'll have to pass another road test when your license is revoked. You may have to pass a permit and a driving test like the one you took when you first got your license. It's also important to note that some courts will assign counseling for drugs and alcohol if you have a DUI charge. Defensive driving courses may also be a requirement.

Get Your License Back Today

Losing your license after incarceration can be a significant roadblock to returning to society. Thankfully, it's possible to get your license back. As long as you determine the status of your license and pay any necessary fees, it's easy to get your license back. For DUI cases, you may have to visit your local DMV or check with the state to determine the steps needed to get your license back.