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Sgt. Troy Christianson mug

Sgt. Troy Christianson of the Minnesota State Patrol

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: If you are on active duty in the U.S. military you do not have to renew your expired Minnesota license until you are discharged, regardless of the length of time served. The law requires you to 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.

To be sure that your driving record is maintained after your license expires, you must 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 address below: DVS, 445 Minnesota St., Suite 163, St Paul, Minnesota, 55101.

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

If you are stopped by law enforcement outside of Minnesota you must provide your military ID, expired Minnesota license and In Service letter as proof of valid status. Be advised that not all states honor the In Service letter. While on leave or prior to 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 explain your current military status. If you have notified DVS of your military status, it will be noted on your record.

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

Vehicle registration for vehicles owned or co-owned by active military men and women that are kept out of state are exempt from registration tax up to 90 days after discharge. Applicable sales tax, plate, contributions and filing fees must then be paid. For complete instructions on how to renew registration call 651-297-2126.

Always remember, you can avoid a ticket — and a crash — if you simply buckle up, drive at safe speeds, pay attention and always drive sober. Help us drive Minnesota Toward Zero Deaths.

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