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  • Writer's pictureTom Fowler

Is It Illegal to Drive Without Your License on You?

Updated: Feb 23, 2022

Driving without a license is not a good idea because it is punishable by law. If a driver was caught by a police officer driving without a license or a valid driver’s license, then he/she may face serious problems. Thus, the driver will also be subjected to a small fine and additional charges.

Sometimes, a person drives a car and forgets to bring their driver's license with them. As a result of simply forgetting their driver's license, they may face some consequences during a traffic stop or checkpoint. Since they don't have a valid license, police officers will issue a ticket for the penalty for operating a motor vehicle without one. So, this would be a problem for an unlicensed person who cannot present a valid license during a stop.

So, when driving any car, even a right hand drive vehicle, it is a must to bring a valid license plus the vehicle's certificate of registration with you. This will save you from possible problems down the road if a police officer stops you. In case of an accident, such as hitting a deer and driving off, these requirements are being asked by the police officer for further investigation for the crime. A driver's license should always be inside the wallet since this may prove the person's identity driving the car.

Always remember that driving without a license is not acceptable in any place. So, if the person drives a car and the police officer instructed them to stop and present their valid ID, they need to present the license and the documents to know if the car's registered owner is legit. A valid driver’s license is enough to get important information about the holder's name, date of birth, address, and other physical descriptors that can be found in the Motor Vehicle Department description.

Caught driving without a license?

What Will Happen if Someone is Driving Without a License?

What do you think would happen if someone drives a car without bringing his/her valid driver’s license and is caught driving by the police officer? Well, simply forgetting a license or driving without a license may result in a traffic infraction, license suspension, and some serious legal problems by the driver. The police officers will be skeptical if the driver does not have the driver’s license on hand. Since the driver cannot present their valid license as proof that they are authorized to drive a car, police officers will start to doubt and ask for the vehicle's certificate of registration, potentially asking more intense questions.

According to car accident law, if the driver gets involved in an accident or has some traffic violation, they must present their driver’s license for ticket issuance. Their license should not be revoked or suspended to be considered a valid license. If it's suspended, canceled, or revoked, the police officers will impose restrictions. Their car may be impounded, and they could pay penalty fines. For more information about what may happen if someone drives a vehicle without a driver’s license, here are a few scenarios:

A Driver Caught Without a License

If driving without a license is the person's first offense, this can be considered an unclassified misdemeanor. An unlicensed driver may receive a residential community sanction and be charged with penalty fines up to $1000. In addition to that, they may be ordered to serve at least 500 hours of community service, and their license plate details will be listed on the record. Once they fail to complete the community service term, the traffic court could provide another sanction for indirect unlawful contempt.

Once a person drives a motor vehicle without a driver’s license again, it would be their second offense. For the second offense, there would be a serious consequence. The state law will charge them with a first-degree misdemeanor penalty or aggravated misdemeanor, which means they will face jail time for up to 6 months as advised by the court. Moreover, a driver needs to pay an additional $1000 penalty fine. Multiple offenses on driving without a license or having a suspended or revoked license may lead to serious consequences – both penalty fines and jail time.

If someone is charged with driving without a license or having a license suspension, it may be best to seek legal assistance because they know how to handle this case in front of the legal court. You may contact a lawyer near you for a free consultation on personal injury law pertaining to your case. If a family member of yours knows some legal experts who can help you alleviate your case in front of the court, it could be beneficial.

Driving a Vehicle with an Expired Current License

The first offense for bringing an expired license is classified as a minor misdemeanor and will be considered a correctable offense. A person will receive a first-degree misdemeanor if they are convicted of 2 or more of these same violations and it's not already classified as correctable offenses.

Thus, a person may be imprisoned for up to 6 months and fined around $1000. Then, the authority may remove their driving privileges. These driving privileges are given but can be taken anytime from people with a bad driving record and violations such as driving without a valid license, suspended license, or revoked license.

Driving with a Suspended or Revoked License

Suspended or revoked license or simply driving without a valid license comes with a much more serious offense. An individual may experience vehicle impoundment if they are driving with a suspended license. So, driving with a suspended or revoked license could end with vehicle impoundment.

There are various reasons why people experience a license suspension or license revocation. Some reasons they may receive a suspended or revoked license are suspension during high school, failing to provide child support, and not being covered with insurance from an auto insurance company. A car insurance company is required for car registration, so it is much better to secure it when registering the vehicle.

For the first offense, this wrongdoing is generally sanctioned by 500 hours of community service, or the person will be fined up to $1000. But, if the person has 3 or more types of convictions within 3 years, then he may need to forfeit his vehicle or his driver's license.

In general, driving without a license is strictly prohibited. Aside from that, never drive a car if you have a revoked license or suspended license. You may ask legal advice from a law firm near you for assistance with your specific predicament.

Driving a Car with a Valid Driver’s License but Forgot to Bring it

A lot of the time, drivers will forget to bring their valid license even if they have a valid driver's license. If this was the case, then their traffic infraction may be dismissed upon presentation of proof that they possessed a valid license during the incident. They may receive a citation dismissed by the court if they can present a valid license.

However, they still need to pay administrative fines because of this offense. The habitual offender for a specific traffic violation, like not stopping for a red light and driving with a suspended or revoked driver's license, may lead to jail time or other penalties along with serious consequences.

Things to consider when driving

Things to Consider When Driving any Vehicle

There are several considerations that drivers should take when driving any vehicle. Don’t hop behind the wheel of your vehicle if you don’t have a driver’s license with you.

For an ultimate guide when driving according to the state laws, it is important to take a glimpse at the following tips and suggestions below:

• Always bring a valid driver’s license with you when driving any vehicle

A license issued by the authorized agency will serve as identification or proof the person can drive based on the given authority. To consider a license to be valid, make sure that it is not yet expired or canceled. Always renew a license before the expiration date so that there will be no problem at all, especially during a police stop.

• Bring certificate of registration of the vehicle along with the license

A driver’s license and certificate of registration must go hand in hand. This is somewhat a package requirement that drivers should bring whenever they drive on the public highway. These requirements will be asked in checkpoint times, violations of traffic rules, and even during some road accidents.

• Be vigilant and be knowledgeable enough about the traffic and driving rules in most states

The laws and policies are somewhat the same in most states regarding driving without a valid license. However, it is still a must to know your own laws and regulations to not face any problems when driving. Remember that ignorance of the law excuses no one. So, it would be better to learn all the driving policies and rules in most states.

• Know who to contact for emergency purposes

If an individual gets involved in an accident or crime, contact a professional lawyer for legal advice. Many lawyers offer a free consultation; you may ask questions like what to do during license suspension, how to get a valid license after it is revoked or canceled, etc. It's better to have an attorney-client relationship so that you can ask for legal help.

So, before driving a car, always consider contacting a legal expert who can provide proper legal help and knows about the state's driving law.

These suggestions would help everyone when driving any car. So, it’s better to follow those suggestions before you hop behind the wheel of your car. These will also help you to avoid penalty fines and possible consequences like imprisonment.

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