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Ask A Trooper: Can active military personnel drive with expired licenses?

Question: The law states that an active duty military member with residence in Minnesota can have an expired license. But what will happen if I were to be pulled over for a traffic violation and my license was expired?

Answer: As long as you are on active duty in the U.S. military, you do not have to renew your expired Minnesota license until after you are discharged from the military. This is regardless of how long you have served in the U.S. military. As a Minnesota driver's license or ID card holder, you must renew your expired license or ID card within one year of being discharged from the military.

If you are a spouse of an active duty military member, you are also exempt from license renewal if you do not live in Minnesota during the time of active duty.

If you are stopped by a law enforcement outside of Minnesota you may provide your military ID, expired Minnesota license and In Service letter as proof of valid status while in the military; however, be advised that not all states may honor the In Service letter. While on leave or prior to you renewing your driver's license, always have your military ID and expired driver's license with you. If you are stopped by a Minnesota law enforcement officer, you can explain your current military status and if you have notified DVS of being in the military, this is noted on your record. To make sure that your driving records are maintained after your license expires, you should notify Minnesota Driver and Vehicle Services (DVS) of your military status. Send a copy of your military orders showing where you are stationed and your service date or a letter from your commanding officer with the same information to the following address:

DVS

445 Minnesota St Suite 163

St Paul, MN 55101

This will allow DVS to provide you with an In Service letter that outlines Minnesota Statutes that exempts active duty military members from renewal, up to 1 year from discharge. To expedite this process you may call (651) 297-3298.

To renew your license, present your expired Minnesota license and DD214 discharge papers at a DVS location that accepts driver license applications.

When it comes to vehicle registration, vehicles owned or co-owned by active military men and women kept out of state are exempt from registration tax up to 90 days after discharge, but must pay any applicable sales tax, plate, contributions and filing fees. For complete instructions on how to renew registration call (651) 297-2126.

A portion of state statutes were used with permission from the Office of the Revisor of Statutes. If you have any questions concerning traffic related laws or issues in Minnesota, send your questions to Trp. Jesse Grabow — Minnesota State Patrol at 1000 Highway 10 West, Detroit Lakes, MN 56501-2205. (You can follow him on Twitter @MSPPIO_NW or reach him at, jesse.grabow@state.mn.us).

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