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What to Do With Old Drivers License | Keep or Destroy?

Whether you are moving to a new state or just facing expiration, deciding what to do with your old driver’s license is a common question. Do you just keep it for nostalgia’s sake, or is it best to dispose of it? I recently looked into the topic, and this is what I found out.

When you receive your new driver’s license, the best thing to do is destroy the old one or give it to the DMV to dispose of. Valuable information is found on a driver’s license that unscrupulous people or identity thieves could use to harm you. If kept, make sure you lock it away in a secure place.

I purchased this cross-cut shredder from Amazon for the specific purpose of destroying old documents and even junk mail. It sits in my office, not 3 feet from me, and gets plenty of use. It has lasted several years and is still going strong.

While procedures for dealing with old licenses will vary from state to state, here is some more information to help you make an informed choice.

Old Driver’s Licenses Best Practices

Some state DMVs will request you turn in your old license after you receive the new one, but most places will just hand them back to you and leave it to you to do whatever you like with them.

Is It Illegal to Keep an Old Driver’s License?

It is not illegal to keep your old license. No one will arrest you for keeping them in your home or even on your person. To avoid any misunderstandings, be careful not to give an expired license to a police officer that pulls you over.

Even so, most license providers want them destroyed so that people are not presenting these old IDs and violating licensing laws.

Related Is It Safe to Give Someone Your Bank Account Number?

It Can Be Easier to Renew With an Old License

Some people decide to keep them for their records. In specific cases, you can use an old driver’s license to renew your license up to two years after the expiration date. This is observed in South Carolina as well as in many other states. If this is true where you live, keeping an expired license makes good sense.

Keeping the old license while the grace period exists leaves your options open. If you change your mind about driving, you can just start the renewal process without having to retake your driver’s test.

Why Destroy Your Old Driver’s License?

A mainstream thief would have little use for an expired driver’s license. It’s not like they could not even pass themselves off as you to get out of a ticket. Nowadays, it’s also unlikely that a kid would not be able to use your ID to get liquor.

The problem is not that someone could take advantage of your driving history or stick you with a few parking tickets. The real issue is that your old driver’s license could provide an accomplished identity thief with a way to get access to more critical information.

Identity Theft Is a Real Concern

Identity Thief with Gloves Holding Driver's License Social Security Heath Savings Account and Credit Card Over a Keyboard

Your name and address alone will not give identity thieves power over you. The problem is that identity criminals are good at what they do. They have the means of turning this basic information into an avalanche of details about the intricacies of your life.

Here are a few things that could happen:

  • There are websites that thieves can employ to get your phone number, marital status, or employment data. Some of these websites’ fees are extremely reasonable, and the information they provide is invaluable to criminals.
  • They could go to the post office and get your mail redirected with this information.
  • They can gain access to critical financial information or credit card numbers. With the right information, they can get past your financial institution’s security questions and temporarily lock you out of your accounts while they transfer money out.

This is why it is always advisable to keep track of all your financial accounts so that you can monitor if there are any unusual transactions and contact the affected companies immediately.

What to Do if You Lose Your Driver’s License

If you notice an old license missing or even your current one, it is important to contact your local police to let them know. If any fishy business shows up on your accounts, it will make it easier to prove that you are not responsible.

While most thieves will not have the knowledge needed to take things to these extremes, they can still make trouble for you, especially if the address transcribed on your outdated driver’s license is current.

People could stake out your house, however unlikely, to establish your routine and commit a home invasion; though, this could happen without anyone obtaining information from an old driver’s license.

Even if it is unlikely an old driver’s license will fall into the hands of professional identity theft criminals, many people operate on the side of caution. It reduces the possibility of something untoward happening. Is it worth the risk?

Best Way to Destroy the License

The best way to destroy a license is to run it through a cross-section shredder, like the one I recommend found on Amazon. If you want to be even more sure, take the tiny pieces and dispose of them a few bits at a time. You can toss them into your garbage over a period of a couple of weeks.

You could also burn or melt it or just use scissors if you do not have a cross shredder. Cut it up into tiny pieces and strategically get rid of it.

Another good option is to take it to the DMV and let them dispose of your old license for you.

What Does the DMV Do With Your Old License?

When you return your old license to the DMV, they usually punch a hole through it so people know that it has been voided. Other than that, they do not go into specifics on how they destroy your old license. Some won’t take it at all but instead, recommend you shred it yourself.

It’s up to You

Aside from practical reasons, many people choose to keep their old driver’s licenses as a souvenir. It’s fun to go back and look at your pictures and see how you have physically changed throughout the years. Some people choose to just cut out the picture, while others opt to keep their whole licenses.

As long as old driver’s licenses are kept in a secure place, such as a safe like the one I recommend from Amazon, there is not much reason for concern.

I hope this article has been helpful. Thanks for reading!

For more, check out Is It Safe to Throw Away Credit Card Offers, Junk Mail, and Receipts?