Ask a Cop: Can you Check a Driver’s Out-of-state Record?

Blogger’s Note: Columnist-slash-cop Steve Sutherland, a veteran officer with the Bainbridge Island Police Department, is back to field another question. Feel free to write more questions or responses below. For more past editions, click here.

The question, from blog commenter “CMC Spouse”: “Jane” is pulled over for speeding. She’s using a friend’s vehicle that is registered, insured, etc. However, “Jane” hasn’t had a valid license for a few years (DUI…imagine that) & no insurance of course. She gives the officer a CA DL number with a made up expiration date. She does give her correct name. She was issued a speeding ticket and sent on her way. When an officer runs your license, are you only able to check WA driver’s licenses?

The answer, from Officer Sutherland, is yes.

An officer can check the driving status of any license presented by a driver, no matter what state issued it.


In the scenario presented by the writer on this question, an officer would have found out rather quickly that this person was operating a motor vehicle without a valid driver’s license by requesting a license check from California.

The officer would probably cite both offenses.

Steve Sutherland has been a Bainbridge Island Police officer for eleven years. He also worked as an officer for the Suquamish Tribal Police Department for almost four years. He’s currently an instructor for the Bainbridge department in defensive tactics, Taser and pepper spray. He lives on Bainbridge and enjoys relaxing, working in his yard, and reading (fiction mostly).

One thought on “Ask a Cop: Can you Check a Driver’s Out-of-state Record?

  1. Thank you Sir, but obviously the license was a fake since she hasn’t had one in over 5 years. Stay Safe and thank you for your service.

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