Of course, you can drive in New York State with a valid driver license from another state. In fact, all 50 states and the District of Columbia will honor another’s jurisdictions driver’s license. You don’t need to apply for a New York State driver license except if you become a New York State resident.
If you qualify as a New York resident, then you must get a New York State driver license within 30 days. If you have a valid driver license issued by another U.S. state or territory, federal district or Canadian province, in most cases, you can simply exchange it for a New York driver license. If your license was issued outside the U.S. or Canada, you must apply for a new original NYS driver license at a DMV office.
So who is a “New York State resident”? Section 250(5) of the NYS Vehicle and Traffic Law says:
As used in this section, the term “resident” shall mean domiciliary, that is, one who lives in this state with the intention of making it a fixed and permanent abode. It shall be presumptive evidence that a person who maintains a place of abode in this state for a period of at least ninety days is a resident of this state.
To live in a house, an apartment, a room or other similar place in New York State for 90 days is considered “presumptive evidence” that you are a resident of New York State. The People can use this as evidence to issue a traffic ticket if you drive in New York State without a New York State driver license or vehicle registration. At a trial or hearing, the judge would consider the law and the evidence of your intent and decide if you are a resident of New York State.
If you pay taxes or your children attend school in another state, a judge considers these facts to decide if your intent is to make New York a “fixed and permanent” residence. According to this law, students from other states or other nations who attend school in New York State are usually not considered residents of New York. .