In New Hampshire they have a law that it makes it illegal to issue a driver's license unless the person has no other license in another state:

263:4 Driver Limited to One License. – No person shall receive a driver's license unless and until he surrenders to the division all valid driver's licenses in his possession issued to him by any other jurisdiction. All surrendered licenses shall be returned by the division to the issuing department together with information that the licensee is now licensed in a new jurisdiction.

Source. 1905, 86:4. 1911, 133:8. 1921, 119:7. PL 101:1. 1927, 11:2. RL 117:1. 1945, 44:3. RSA 261:1. 1965, 207:1. 1981, 146:1, eff. Jan. 1, 1982.

The US Constitution specifies that each state must respect the laws of the others, so it would seem contrary to this that one state should refuse a drivers license unless the same is revoked in another.

Has this issue ever been tested in court?

  • When I changed states to Texas from Wisconsin, they punched a hole in my Wisconsin drivers license but gave it back to me. Upon returning to WIsconsin 6 or so years later, I surrendered by Texas license (which they punched a hole in) but informed me that my Wisconsin license was still valid, so they issued me a replacement card instead of a new license. – Ron Beyer Dec 3 '18 at 15:49
  • Why would this fall under the Commerce Clause (I assume that's what you're referring to by "each state must respect the laws of the others")? Even assuming that New Hampshire was constitutionally obligated to respect driver's licenses issued in other states, why would that obligate New Hampshire to issue their own license? – Comintern Mar 2 '19 at 5:06
  • 1
    @Comintern: Sounds more like Full Faith and Credit clause. – Ben Voigt Mar 2 '19 at 5:07
  • @BenVoigt You're correct. The same question applies though. – Comintern Mar 2 '19 at 5:07

This requirement isn't about whether or not New Hampshire considers other state driver's licenses valid for the purposes of assessing someone's ability to drive, but enforcing the requirement that a person cannot claim primary residency in more than one place. As far as I know, it is a requirement in every state that you declare that state your primary residence in order to receive a driver's license. As a practical matter, this makes it more difficult to register to vote in more than one place, and makes it easier to determine the best place to call you for jury duty, among other things. As part of that declaration, the state issuing the license is requiring that you surrender your other license because it prevents you from trying to use it to defraud the other state by claiming you are still a resident there. As was pointed out in comments, the states don't necessarily communicate to each other that a license was surrendered, but in order to get another copy you would have to certify that you are primarily a resident of the other state again, which would be perjury.

This doesn't really have to do with the Full Faith and Credit clause, since the states aren't refusing to accept the records of the other state. To the contrary, the few times I've changed my license I can use my old state's license to prove my ability to drive - the new state puts their faith in my proper testing by the old state, rather than forcing me to retake a test (in fairness, they also accept out of country licenses of their own volition, having to redo tests for everyone moving to the state would be a huge drain on resources for little gain). For what it's worth, while it seems like states usually ask that drivers change to the state's license within x days of moving to the state, I've never actually seen a penalty attached to failure to do that, and for the purpose of certifying your ability to drive valid out-of-state licenses are always accepted, even if there were a penalty for failing to change them after you move to the state.


Most states require you to be licensed in that state if you are a resident of that state, which is what it looks like is going on in New Hampshire. Since a New Hampshire License is backed by the full faith and credit of the State of New Hampshire, any other U.S. State or Territory will treat a New Hampshire license as their own for the purposes of any transaction made off of the license (there are more license uses than just valid driving credentials, such as buying age restricted products... most states will even orient the license based on whether you are old enough to by alcohol or not on the date of issue.).

The full faith and credit does not absolve someone from not knowing another state's driving laws and following the state law that conflicts with a NH law.

  • 3
    does not answer the question – Cicero Dec 3 '18 at 15:29

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