At all times, you need to know the status of your license. Driving with an expired license is not ideal, but driving with a suspended or revoked license can get you in very hot water. Many states allow a driver to check the status of a driver's license online.
TL;DR (Too Long; Didn't Read)
Many states allow you to check the status of your driver's license online. Go to the website of your state's DMV and see whether your state offers this service.
Driver's License Status
The status of a driver's license comes in only four flavors: valid, expired, suspended or revoked. A valid license means that you are ready to roll, but only for the period of validity, often five years. At the end of that period, you have to renew the license (and pay the state a hefty fee) or else it expires. Depending on where you live and how long ago your license expired, that may not be too hard to fix. And it's surely easier than dealing with a suspended or revoked license.
One thing is clear: you need to know the status of your license. The odds are, you can find this out online. While some states offer plenty of details about your driving record online, others provide only the basics. Almost all will let you determine the state of your license, however.
Checking the Status
Most states allow you to figure out the status of your driver's license online. Go to the website of your state's Department of Motor Vehicles. Look for the link to the license status page. You'll be asked to provide some personal data including your driver's license number. Once you enter the requested data, click the submit button. The next screen will tell you whether your license is valid, or whether it is expired, suspended or revoked.
Some states, like Alabama, require your last name, driver's license number and the expiration date of the license. Florida asks for the last four digits of a Social Security number if you are checking a minor child's driving record. Others, including Idaho, ask for your date of birth and, if you don't know the license number, your Social Security number.
In New York, you must sign up for MyDMV and get a MyDMV number to be able to access driver's license information online. In order to sign up, you must enter personal information including the last digits of your SSN. Once you are signed up, you can check your license status online, and also apply to restore your license after revocation.
The lifespan of your driver's license depends on the laws of your state. Most states pin the expiration date to your birthday. For example, a California license expires on your birthday five years after you get it. In other states, the time period can run from four to eight years.
What happens then? You have to renew the license. Usually this does not involve much labor on your part. You only have to pay a fee. Once the license expires, you can't drive until you renew it. Assuming you are timely, you can renew your license online in many states, including Georgia and California, by paying the fee. If your license has been expired too long, you'll have to start at ground zero with the knowledge and driving tests.
Suspended and Revoked Licenses
You can't drive with either a suspended or a revoked license. Suspension is temporary, while a revoked license is longer and sometimes permanent. Your license may be suspended for any of a number of misdeeds. They vary by state but could include driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, leaving the scene of an accident, failure to appear in court for a traffic or parking ticket, failure to keep proper insurance on your vehicle and failure to pay child support. Some states have a point system, in which a driver accumulates points for traffic violations, and after a certain number of points, the license is suspended.
If your license is suspended, you must comply with the conditions of your suspension. Only after that can you seek reinstatement of your license. When your license is revoked, you usually lose it for a longer period of time, and you may never get it back. In some states, like New York, you can pay your reinstatement fee online if you are a member of MyDMV. If you cannot get your license back after revocation, you can request approval online to apply for a new driver's license.