I have encountered the police officer, who charged me with 1M00JJH with Article TA-16-101(a1). Which states that I was driving without required license and authorization.

I came to the United States in the month of August 2018. And people told me that my Indian driving license is valid until a year from my I-94 entry date. I stay in Maryland, I cannot find any such thing at the DMV website.

I was charged for not having a valid driving license, though I had a valid Indian Driving license. Now I need to appear in court for the hearing. Can anyone help me out, whether my Indian driving license is valid or not? Whether the charges pressed are correct or not.

Edit: Thank you guys, for your inputs. My lawyer asked me to apply for the license out here to go ahead with.

There was one more catch that the vehicle I was driving was a rented one and they passed my application based on my Indian driving license which they approve since it is within one year of my residence.

If they approved me to drive the vehicle without any concerns I think they might have gone through legal channels if not then even they would be charged because of this.

  • 3
    Only a guess so a comment rather than an answer. Many countries accept each other's licences for a year due to a reciprocal agreement. However, this is usually just for tourists. If you are there for some other reason then the limit may be much shorter. Even if you are American, you may need to get a local licence quite soon after moving to another state.
    – badjohn
    Jun 1, 2019 at 9:05
  • This is a great question for Expatriates. I will ask the moderators to migrate it.
    – phoog
    Jun 14, 2019 at 2:17
  • The accepted answer is incorrect.
    – phoog
    Feb 25, 2021 at 3:48

3 Answers 3


Presuming you have a valid IDP issued according to the 1949 Geneva Convention, you are free to drive in any US state for up to 1 year since your date of entry. For reference see the Digest of United States Practice of International law, which examined this issue:

Reading these provisions as a whole, we believe that the State of Georgia, consistent with the CRT,

(1) must permit an alien to drive in Georgia using a foreign driver’s license issued by a country party to the CRT only if the alien has been lawfully admitted to the United States;

(2) must permit a lawfully admitted alien to drive in Georgia using a foreign driver’s license of a CRT party only during the first year after the alien’s admission; and

(3) may, in accordance with Georgia’s residency laws, require an alien resident in Georgia to obtain a Georgia driver’s license as a condition for continued authorization to drive. By the same token, nothing in the CRT would prevent the State of Georgia from applying more liberal rules with respect to the driving privileges of aliens.

What Maryland laws say on this matter is not too relevant, as the US Congress has ratified the 1949 Geneva Convention and international agreements generally trump state law in the US. This might not be too helpful when dealing with a regular patrol officer who is unlikely to be well versed in the nuances of international law, but you might have better chances in court if you hire a good lawyer.

That being said, in your case it appears that you are not in a possession of a valid IDP or at least weren't in possession of one at the time of your traffic stop. Therefore the 1949 Geneva Convention does not apply to you and won't allow you to circumvent Maryland's local laws.

  • Very nice research! Your analysis is persuasive. Upvoted. Jun 15, 2019 at 3:49
  • I will add, however, that convincing MVA or a Maryland judge that Maryland law is trumped by the 1994 Geneva Convention will be a significant hurdle. Jun 15, 2019 at 20:44
  • @David there doesn't seem to be case law on this matter, possibly because lower court judges do respect the 1949 Convention. Jun 15, 2019 at 22:29
  • I'd say rather that while lower court judges accept the primacy of federal jurisdiction, absent a reasonable brief on the matter, it's entirely likely that many or most lower-tier state courts would be ignorant of the Convention. Jun 15, 2019 at 22:52
  • @DavidSupportsMonica I do not agree with your assessment of this answer, for two reasons: first, nothing in the quoted material suggests that the benefits of the convention are conditioned on the possession of a valid IDP, and second, the quoted material does not suggest that point three applies only after one year. In other words, because the asker of the question was resident in Maryland, the one-year period noted in point two was not applicable, and the officer was correct to cite the driver for the license violation.
    – phoog
    Feb 25, 2021 at 3:47

Whoever told you that you would have a year's use of your Indian license was wrong.

Driver's license eligibility is controlled by each individual state. Maryland DMV ("MVA") says that a new Maryland resident must obtain a Maryland drivers license within 60 days. (Here's a link to the Maryland MVA's FAQ) The MVA's view of whether you're a Maryland resident is similar to the position taken by Maryland's state tax department (the Maryland "Comptroller") which says you're a tax resident if you maintain a place of abode (a "domicile") in Maryland for six months or more.

Maryland does not have a driver's license reciprocity agreement with India. (Maryland's list of reciprocity countries)

Here's the MVA FAQ addressing how a foreign scholar can obtain a license in Maryland.

If you show up in court with a newly-issued Maryland license, the case might be dismissed; it's likely that if not dismissed, the fine would be reduced. Even if you haven't received the new license, having applied for a new license (and being able to show the court actual physical paperwork that you've applied) will help.

I think the best course of action right now is to gather all your documents and records, and physically go to an office of the MVA. Surely other persons legally-present in the state for long periods of time (but not permanently) have succeeded in obtaining licenses.

Source: I'm a lawyer (in another state).

EDIT October 9, 2019.

My answer here is incorrect. See @JonathanReez' Answer, whose reasoning is persuasive. I cannot delete this Answer because it has been Accepted.

  • The MVA FAQ says that someone without US citizenship has to have two years of Maryland income tax returns in order to get a driver's license. How does that work with the requirement to change their license over within 60 days? Jun 1, 2019 at 12:47
  • @MichaelSeifert I don't know, I didn't see that one. What's the URL for that FAQ? Jun 1, 2019 at 12:49
  • The one you linked to in your question — here. Jun 1, 2019 at 12:50
  • I suppose you could retroactively file the "past two years" of returns, even if it included time that you weren't actually present in MD, But that seems like a strange requirement. Jun 1, 2019 at 12:52
  • 1
    @MichaelSeifert the page at license.mva.maryland.gov/checklist/checklist.aspx supports this conclusion; it contrasts "US citizens, immigrants and non-immigrants with valid USCIS documentation able to prove lawful status in the US" (eligible for Real ID license) with "Immigrants who do not have valid USCIS documentation" who get a non-Real-ID-compliant license.
    – phoog
    Jun 14, 2019 at 2:10

Drivers Licences are, in general, based on place of residence

  • when you move elsewhere, you are required exchange your driver's Licence for a local one
  • generally 6 months is assumed to be an acceptable timeframe

Depending on the Jurisdiction, you may also be required to have a International Drivers Permit (IDP)

  • The Maryland site (which at the moment does not respond), will no doubt contain the needed information for both the IDP and the timeframe within you must convert your non Maryland license

Sometimes it is possible to recieve your original license back when you return back to your home country. It would be wise to inform them of the expected date of return upon application.

Assume that a policeman on the otherside of the world, will not know what your Driver's Licence looks like (or can determine if it is valid for the vehicle your are driving).
(Consider yourself lucky if they know what a IDP looks like)

The likelihood is high that the Judge will determine that you have not conformed to Maryland law.

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