Maybe your driver’s license has just expired or is about to expire, or maybe you’re moving to a different state where you’ll need to get a new driver’s license. What should you do with your old driver’s license? Keep it (maybe you DO like your photo)? Dispose of it?

What should I do with my old driver's license?

For the sake of identity theft protection, if nothing else, best practices indicate that you should destroy/dispose of the old one, or turn it in to your state’s DMV to properly dispose of it, whenever you get a new, updated driver’s license. There’s way too much important information about you that criminals or identity thieves could use to their benefit and to your detriment. If nothing else, if you do decide to keep your old driver’s license, at least keep it safely locked up. 

Should I Destroy My Old Driving License? 

If you keep your old driver’s license, keep it locked up securely. First, scribble over your image with a permanent marker, along with your driver’s license number and your name and address. It is recommended that you dispose of it properly, and the best way to dispose of it is by using a cross-section shredder like this great one.

To ensure your sensitive information’s safety, dispose of the tiny, shredded pieces of your old driver’s license a few bits at a time over the course of a couple of weeks. The separate pieces will get taken away a few chunks at a time by your trash pickup. 

You can also cut it up into small pieces with scissors, or just burn it, though burning it can create toxic fumes, so do so in a well-ventilated space. Disintegrators are also effective disposal tools.

If you don’t have a shredder, there are companies that specialize in securely taking and shredding old documents that may contain sensitive information (such as old tax returns, older than 10 years), though there is a fee they’ll charge you.

What to Do With Old ID Cards? 

Identification cards, like your driver’s license or old credit/debit cards, contain sensitive, important information about you, like your birthdate, address, etc., that identity thieves can exploit to their own benefit in a way that could harm you (like your credit). To dispose of your old ID/license, start by scribbling over your image, name, ID number, etc., with a permanent marker. Then, it’s recommended to always properly destroy old ID cards/driver’s licenses to keep them out of circulation. If you do keep your old IDs, keep them safely locked away.

Is it Illegal to Destroy a Driver’s License?

It is technically illegal to destroy or alter any government-issued ID or documentation, as these things are technically property of the issuing government entity. Such damage or destruction to government property isn’t often prosecuted unless high-profile court proceedings or other stakes are pending.

Destroying your own expired driver’s license or other old ID cards is considered safe and is recommended when you obtain updated identification.

What Should I Do With My Old Driver’s License?

Identity theft prevention experts will almost always recommend destroying your old driver’s licenses, either by burning, shredding, or cutting them up. You can always turn your old driver’s license in to the DMV office, and they’ll punch a hole in it signaling that it’s not usable, and then dispose of it properly.

Old credit cards and other forms of ID that contain sensitive information on them are also recommended to be destroyed/disposed of safely. If you do keep old licenses/ID cards, keep them safely locked up.

How Do I Safely and Securely Dispose of an Old Driver’s License?

With a permanent marker, scribble and write over your photo, the driver’s license number, and your name and address. Cut your license up with scissors into tiny pieces, or shred your license with a cross-section shredder. You can then throw out some of the pieces, a little at a time, over the course of the next two to three weeks, so that your trash pickup takes the pieces away in separate trips. You might even think about burning your license. 

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

Some state DMV’s will request your old license when you get a new, updated license so they can dispose of it properly, though most states will let you keep your old driver’s licenses to dispose of or keep as you see fit.

It’s not illegal to keep an old ID (maybe you think it’s easier to renew your ID with the old one in hand), though it’s recommended that you destroy/dispose of it properly. You can burn it, cut it up, shred it, turn it in to your DMV to let them dispose of it, or take it to a company that specializes in shredding documents. 

Note that you probably don’t want to hand an expired ID to a police officer the next time you get pulled over, right?

What Should I Do If I Lose My Driver’s License?

Should you happen to misplace or lose your driver’s license, conduct a thorough search of your home, vehicle, places you’ve been, etc. Contact your local police department and bank, and let them know that your ID has gone missing.

Chances are less in favor of something catastrophic happening to you, but you want to be covered in case your driver’s license falls into the wrong hands and someone tries to conduct business with your accounts, at the post office, etc.

So, Should I Keep or Destroy My Old Driver’s License?

You can certainly keep your old driver’s licenses for nostalgia’s sake, but it is highly recommended that you dispose of them properly or turn them in to the DMV so they can properly dispose of them.

Cross-section shredders like this one are the most effective means of destroying your old licenses/ID cards that you don’t want to leave floating around with your sensitive information made available. This is a good identity theft prevention method. If you decide to keep your old driver’s licenses/ID cards, keep them safely locked away.

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