Driving Without a License – What You Need to Know
It can be stressful and worrying to be charged with driving without a license, especially if you already have your license suspended or revoked for a prior offense. Learn what you need to know about these charges and how you can defend yourself with expert California criminal defense counsel.
Being Charged with Driving Without a License
It's illegal for anyone to drive in California without a driver's license. This covers both individuals who have not yet received a license and those who have had their license revoked or suspended for some offense in the past.
The prosecution has to prove several things according to California Vehicle Code 12500(a) to reach a conviction, however. These things include:
- That you were actually driving the motor vehicle on a highway AND
- You didn't hold a valid California driver's license AND
- You didn't have a good excuse for exemption from the driver's license requirement
However, note that a valid driver's license can come from another state – you cannot be charged with this crime for having a valid license from another state.
You may be charged with this crime if you have not renewed your driver's license as well, and if you become a California resident and don't get a new driver's license within 10 days. That's because, according to the law, your license is not valid in either of those two cases, so it's essentially the same thing as driving without a license.
Penalties for Driving Without a License
You may be charged with either a misdemeanor or non-criminal infraction depending on the details of your case. First offenses are usually charged as infractions, while subsequent offenses are more likely to be charged as misdemeanors.
Infraction offenses carry penalties including:
- A fine of up to $250
If charged as a misdemeanor, you may face penalties including:
- Up to six months in county jail
- A fine of up to $1000
Defenses for Driving Without a License
California criminal defense attorneys can utilize several defense strategies to help you avoid a conviction for this crime or infraction.
You Were a Visitor
If you're not a resident in California but still visit for longer than 10 days, you aren't technically guilty of violating this law. Thus, you need only prove that you did not intend to reside in California at the time of the traffic incident.
You Were Exempt from Having to Have a Driver's License
If you were exempt from having a driver's license due to some ordinance from the DMV or another state/federal agency, you may be exempt from these penalties.
You Weren't Driving
Obviously, you won't be charged for this crime if you want the one driving the vehicle but were instead sitting in the passenger seat.
Your License Wasn't In Your Possession
If you left your license at home or something else happened to it so that you didn't have it in your possession at the time of the traffic stop, you may not be convicted of this crime. However, you may be saddled with a ticket.
Contact a California Criminal Defense Attorney Today
If you've been charged unfairly with driving without a license, contact the law offices of Peter James Chambers today. We can get started on your case immediately with a free consultation and we'll work to avoid a conviction so you can get back to your life.