If you don’t have a valid driver’s license and you plan on operating a motor vehicle, you might want to think twice about getting behind the wheel. Driving without a license is against the law everywhere in the United States regardless of your age or driving experience. There are serious consequences that affect your driving record and your wallet if you are caught.
To legally drive a vehicle in any of the 50 United States an operator must have a valid driver’s license issued by the state department of motor vehicles (DMV) or by the state registry of motor vehicles (RMV) in which you reside.
Your license allows you to drive legally throughout the country but if you don’t have a license, it’s unlawful to operate a vehicle no matter where you go.
This law is consistent from one state to another and you are breaking the law if you operate a motor vehicle when:
you have never been issued a valid license by the RMV or DMV
your driver’s license has been temporarily suspended
your driver’s license has been permanently revoked.
The law is applied differently in certain circumstances.
Operating without Proof of Licensing
If you are operating a motor vehicle without your valid driver’s license on your person because you simply forgot to take it with you, and you are legitimately asked to produce the license, you may be issued a warning or citation by a traffic officer.
Most law enforcement agencies have the ability to check electronically to instantly confirm that you do in fact have a driver’s license. The officer has a choice of writing a ticket or letting you go (this time). You may be required to produce the physical license in order to avoid a fine.
Operating without a Valid Driver’s License
If you are operating without a valid driver’s license and cited for the offense, you will be required to appear in court on an assigned date. You or an attorney who represents you must appear in court as scheduled.
Driving without a valid license is considered a misdemeanor in most states. However, if convicted, the conviction will show on your criminal record.
Each state administers different penalties for driving without a license. Penalties and fines are different for those operating without proof of licensing and those operating without a valid license.
Usually a first offender will receive a smaller penalty than someone who is a repeat offender. In some states misdemeanor charges upgrade to felony charges in certain situations for repeat offenders and those caught committing a major traffic violation or DUI.
In any case, multiple offenses mean larger fines, increased insurance premiums or points against your driving record.
Depending upon the circumstances you can expect one or more of the following consequences:
More fines if you are a repeat offender.
Additional license suspension time.
Community service time.
Driver’s license revocation.
Expect to pay much more if a repeat offender.
Felony charges if caught for a major traffic violation, DUI, or other aggravated driving charges.
Points added to your driving record
Steep license reinstatement fees.
There’s no doubt that it’s a mistake to get behind the wheel if you’re not properly licensed. You may think there’s no chance of getting caught. After all, “you’re just going to the store” or “just driving around the block”.
Drivers are required to have a valid license for good reasons and operating any motor vehicle without one has serious consequences.
If you have questions about how to obtain a valid driver’s license contact the state department of motor vehicles (DMV) or state registry of motor vehicles (RMV) where you live. Contact an attorney if you require legal assistance.