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Tyron Jones

Car Insurance Expert
Updated: 11/2019

Tyron Jones is a car insurance expert who has operated within the auto insurance business for more than 10 years. 

Anyone caught driving without a license will face serious consequences. Those driving on a suspended license or one that has been revoked will also face serious consequences for doing so. In all states across the country, driving a vehicle without a valid license is illegal and can come with serious fines and even jail time.

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Consequences Differ Between States and Circumstances

In many instances, first-time offenders caught driving without their license on them will be given a simple traffic infraction. Depending on your situation and the officer who pulls you over, the offense may be considered a misdemeanor and can come with heavy penalties beyond a traffic ticket. If you find yourself pulled over for the same offense of not having your license or it has been revoked or suspended, it can turn into a felony charge. A felony charge is serious and can be on your permanent driving record for the rest of your life.

Penalties for Driving Without a License in Each State

Fines for Not Driving with Valid License

The fines for driving without a license, a suspended license or revoked license can differ significantly between states. In Oklahoma, the first offense can get you a ticket of around $50. If you are caught a second time, the offense becomes a more serious one and you will have to be fined up to $25,000. On top of the stiff fines, you can expect to lose your license for a specified amount of time, usually up to a year. If you are facing your second offense, you may lose your license up to two years and can lose your license plate. In some situations, your vehicle may get impounded.

The fines and consequences for getting caught driving without a license will take months or years to get through. For second offenses and beyond, you may find yourself spending time in jail on top of the fines. If you are lucky enough not to be sent to jail, there is a good chance you will have to complete community service. Additionally, you will get permanent marks on your driving record. These marks can impact your future employment, especially if you are looking to have a career as a driver.

The Possibility of Jail Time for Driving Without A License

Getting sent to jail for up to five years is a real possibility for anyone convicted of driving without a legal, valid license. The only exception to this is for first-time offenders. In general, getting caught without ever having a license might be less severe than getting caught driving your vehicle with a suspended or revoked license. However, it will still mean a traffic citation or misdemeanor charge. Most people will still find themselves leaving the scene in handcuffs after getting pulled over.

What Happens If You Simply Forgot Your License at Home?

If you happen to get pulled over and are asked for your license, what happens if you don’t have your physical license on you? If you have a valid license, but don’t have it on you if you get pulled over, the results will vary between state and officer. The best-case scenario is the officer lets you off with a warning. In other cases, you may get a traffic ticket. If you are given a ticket, you may be able to get it dismissed if you show up to traffic court with your license for verification. There may still be a small fine imposed.

Caught Driving with Suspended License

Operating any type of motor vehicle with a license that has been revoked or suspended will get you in a lot of trouble. Many people are tempted to get behind the wheel thinking they might not get caught. The risks for doing this are not worth the consequences. It could come with extremely expensive fines. There are many reasons why people lose their license or have it suspended. For example, major driving offenses such as reckless driving or DUIs will cause you to lose your license for a specific amount of time or indefinitely. Getting caught driving while you have a suspended or revoked license will increase the amount of time you go without it and possibly land you in jail.

Overview of Differences Between Revoked and Suspended Licenses

Suspended Licenses

When your license gets suspended, you will typically lose your right to drive for a specified amount of time. More often than not, a suspended license is the consequence of getting too many points on your license. You obtain points for things like getting caught driving without proper insurance and other minor traffic infractions. In some states across the country, once your suspension is up, your license will get reinstated automatically without having to go through any process. In other states, you will have to apply at your local DMV to have your suspension lifted once your time is up.

Revoked Licenses

A revoked license is more serious than a suspended license. This means your ability to drive has been taken away for failure to meet requirements asked of you or driving while you weren’t supposed to. Revoked licenses are often a result of a serious driving infraction such as a DUI. And by the way there’s no such thing as a DUI insurance trick to reduce costs, only companies that are more willing to work with you than others.

Penalties for driving with both a suspended or revoked license can be high. In many cases, the fines can be from a couple thousand dollars up to $25,000. On top of fines, suspension time limits will be extended and jail time is certainly on the table. First-time offenses are usually misdemeanors. Repeat offenders getting caught a second or third time will be facing possible felony charges. You will have a difficult time getting yourself out of spending time behind bars with multiple offenses.

Car Insurance Rates Are Affected

On top of the fines and possible jail time, drivers will also see their car insurance rates increase. Driving with a revoked or suspended license is very frowned upon by car insurance companies. This is because it makes you look like a high-risk driver. Anyone caught driving without a valid license can expect to see a dramatic increase in their insurance premiums. With suspended licenses, your insurance company will drop your coverage once they are aware of the suspension. This will leave you with a gap in car insurance coverage and thus raise your rates even more.

Allowing Friends and Family to Drive Your Vehicle Without A License

If you allow anyone to drive a vehicle registered in your name without a valid license, you will find yourself in a huge legal nightmare. In most cases, car insurance is based on the car more than the driver. This means that if a friend or family member get caught driving your vehicle without a license, you will find yourself on the hook for consequences right along with them. If your friend or family member get into an accident, you might lose your insurance coverage.

If your vehicle is in an accident and an unlicensed driver was behind the wheel, your insurance company has legal ground to cancel your policy and deny the claim. You will find yourself having to pay out-of-pocket to fix or repair your vehicle. Most car insurance policies list a clause in their terms that states coverage is only effective when the driver has a valid license.

If the unlicensed person driving your vehicle was also the cause of the accident, you might have to pick up the tab for the other vehicles involved. You could find yourself responsible and paying for their vehicle’s repairs, their medical bills and legal defense if they choose to sue you. Even if you weren’t in the vehicle at the time of the accident, you may still get fined a traffic ticket. If the court can prove you “knowingly” allowed an unlicensed driver to use your vehicle, you may be fined yourself. In some states, you may get your car impounded and get sent to jail.

Your insurance company will most likely raise your rates dramatically. For some people, finding new insurance will prove difficult and expensive. If you get your vehicle impounded, you will have to pay various law enforcement fees to get your car back.

Unlicensed Drivers Involved in Fatal Accidents

According to AAA’s Traffic Safety Foundation, almost one in five fatal accidents involved an unlicensed driver. This is one of the many reasons why the penalties and consequences are so high for driving without a license. The study conducted by AAA also found that most first-time offenders have a good chance of becoming repeat offenders. Almost 30 percent of the lawbreakers in the study had received at least three or more license revocations and suspensions in the previous three years before they were involved in an accident that involved a fatality.

Some Examples of Penalties by State

Alabama

The fees for a first-time offense of driving without a license is between $100 and $500. Additionally, the offense will be considered a misdemeanor charge and can come with the possibility of jail time up to 180 days. The driver’s vehicle will be impounded and they face a suspended license time increase of six months or more.

Colorado

The fees for a first-time offense of driving without a license are up to $500. Offenders may also face jail time up to six months and an increase of a suspended license by a year or more. Subsequent offenses deem a driver ineligible to be issued a new license for at least three years.

Delaware

First-time offenders can be put in jail between 30 days and six months. The driver’s vehicle will be impounded for a minimum of 90 days. The fees for a first-time offender will range anywhere from $500 to $1,000. A repeat offender will be sent to jail for a timeframe of 60 days to a year. There is a fine for imprisonment that ranges between $1,000 and $4,000. Additionally, the driver’s vehicle will be impounded for up to a year.

Florida

One of the more serious states to be caught driving without a valid license in is Florida. A first-time offense is an automatic 2nd-degree misdemeanor. This charge will come with a steep fine between $500 and $5,000. Depending on the judge, the driver may face another fine of $500 or jail time up to 60 days. Subsequent offenses come with steeper fines and consequences. A second offense is a 1st-degree misdemeanor and gets you imprisonment for up to a year. This includes another fine of $1,000. A subsequent offense gets you a 3rd-degree felony charge. This offense gets you up to five years in jail and a $5,000 fine. Your vehicle will be automatically impounded.

Georgia

A first offense in Georgia is a misdemeanor that comes with jail time between a couple days up to one year. The misdemeanor fines range from $500 to $5,000. Georgia drivers may also be fined an extra $500 for the offense on top of the other fines. Second and third offenses for being caught driving without a license results in a high and aggravated misdemeanor charges. Imprisonment is possible between 10 days and a year with an additional fine possible between $1,000 and $2,500. If you are charged four or more times, it is an automatic felony charge. This felony charge comes with one to five years of jail time and additional fines that range from $2,500 to $5,000.

As you can see, being caught driving without a valid license is serious business. It comes with consequences that can dramatically affect the quality of your life and finances. Getting past this type of violation will take lots of time and money. Most people facing multiple offenses will need to obtain legal help from a lawyer. Most traffic tickets involve minor infractions that can be handled without legal aid. For more serious offenses, hiring the help of an attorney may be your only hope of not losing your license permanently. For those facing license suspension, jail time, license revocation or more should speak with a traffic ticket attorney residing in your area for more information and help in defending the charges brought against you.

FAQ

If you have questions about driving without your license, we’ve put together an FAQ page that can help you find the answer to some tricky questions. Check out our different FAQ sections below!

Driving Without a License Penalty FAQs

If you have questions about the penalties associated with driving without a license, you’ll most likely be able to find the answers below.

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What happens if you get caught driving without a license?

The punishment for driving without a license varies depending on the state. In many cases, it may be a misdemeanor charge. But this can change depending on the state and if you have previous convictions.

How much is a ticket for driving without a license?

The amount of money that you will have to pay for driving without a license will depend on the state that you’re living in. You should be able to find the fine ranges for your state via your local authorities.

What happens if you drive without a license?

If you’re caught driving without a license, you will most likely receive a misdemeanor charge from the authorities. This will depend on the state that you’re living in. Also, you won’t be covered by insurance because you don’t have a license.

Is driving without a license a felony?

This will depend on the state, as well as other factors involved in the circumstances in which you were caught. In most cases, it will be a misdemeanor, but it’s important to check with local officials to see if you may be eligible for a felony.

Can you go to jail for driving without a license?

In many cases that depends on the state and circumstances of the situation. In many cases, you will not receive a jail sentence, but this doesn’t mean it’s not possible.

Is driving without a license a misdemeanor?

In most cases, driving without a license is a misdemeanor, but it’s important to remember that this varies depending on the state. If you want to avoid a criminal record, it’s best to avoid driving without a license.

Can you get arrested for driving without a license?

Depending on the circumstances, you may get arrested for driving without a license — states make their own laws. Make sure to never drive without a license.

What is the maximum fine for driving without a license?

The maximum fine for driving without a license can be extremely high depending on the state — you could be talking about a lot more than just a few hundred dollars!

Is driving without a license a crime?

Yes, it is considered a crime in most states. This means that you will most likely be charged with a misdemeanor, depending on the state that you live in.

Is driving without a license a felony in California?

In most cases driving without a license in the state of California will only be a misdemeanor or an infraction.

Is driving without a license a misdemeanor in Hawaii?

This depends on the circumstances, but Hawaii takes driving without a license extremely seriously. You may even go to jail if you’re caught driving without a license.

Is driving without a license a violation of probation?

Yes, if you’re on probation any type of criminal issue can be a violation of your probation. You should definitely not drive a vehicle if you’re on probation.

How many points for driving without a license?

Points systems vary depending on the state in which your license is issued. For this reason, it’s critical to look at the rules for the state that’s applicable to you.

How much is bail for driving without a license?

In many cases you won’t need bail, but the rules and bail amounts will depend on the state that you’re charged in and the circumstances of your case.

Is driving without a license a felony in Kentucky?

In most cases driving without a license is not a felony in Kentucky. Those driving without a license tend to be charged with misdemeanors in Kentucky.

Is driving without a license a felony in Massachusetts?

In most cases, it is a misdemeanor crime that will be punished through a series of penalties, including fines.

What are the consequences of driving without a license?

The consequences of driving without a license will depend on the state that you’re caught. Each state has its own penalties and punishment systems. You’ll most likely receive a misdemeanor charge, but it can be worse in some states.

Can you lose your license for driving without insurance?

Not always, it depends on the state that you’re living in and the previous penalties on your license. You should never drive without insurance.

Does driving without a license go on your record?

If you do end up being convicted of driving without a license, it can definitely end up on your criminal record. Remember — it is a misdemeanor in most states.

Is driving without a license a felony in Illinois?

In most cases, you will not be charged with a felony for driving without a license in Illinois. Instead, you will be charged with a misdemeanor, which can still carry serious penalties.

What happens when you drive without a license in California?

If you get caught without a license while driving in the state of California, you’ll most likely receive a misdemeanor or an infraction. These can still carry heavy penalties.

Can my car get impounded for driving without a license?

Depending on the state, your car may be impounded if you’re caught driving without a license. There are also plenty of other harsh penalties that you’ll face — never drive without a license.

Other Driving License Penalty FAQs

If you have any other questions about driving without a license, you’ll most likely be able to find the answers below.

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Can you drive without a license?

No, you are not allowed to drive without a license. It is a misdemeanor criminal offense in most states throughout the USA.

How to drive without a license legally?

You are not allowed to legally drive without any form of license. You should never drive without a license.

Can you drive a moped without a license?

No, you cannot drive a moped without a license. You may face stiff penalties if you’re caught driving a moped without a license in the United States.

Can you drive a scooter without a license?

Most scooters will require a license. You should always check with your state authorities to find out what local regulations require in terms of scooter license.

What can I drive without a license?

If you’re driving on main roads in the United States you will need a license for pretty much everything. Make sure to check with your local authorities to determine if you need a license for a particular thing.

Can you drive 49cc scooter without license?

In most cases, you will always need a license for a motorized scooter. Make sure to check with your state authorities for further clarity — it depends on the state that you’re living in

Can you report someone driving without a license?

Yes. If you believe someone is driving without a license, you can report it to your local police to have them deal with the situation.

Can you drive 150cc scooter without license?

No. You will need a license to drive a 150cc scooter, but you should also check with your state authorities for the exact rules, as rules vary depending on the state.

Can you drive a jet ski without a license?

In most cases, you will not need a license to ride a jet ski, but you should always check with local authorities to see if there are restrictions in the area that you’re planning on using the jet ski.

Can you drive a Vespa without a license?

Yes, you will need a license to ride a Vespa on public roads throughout the United States. Do not ride a Vespa without a license.

Can you drive an ATV without a license?

If you want to drive an ATV on a public road, you will need a license. You can’t drive motorized vehicles on public roads without a license.

How to anonymously report someone driving without a license?

You can report someone to your local police if you believe that they are not driving with a license. Ask them to remain anonymous before you report it.

How to beat driving without a license?

You should never drive without a license. It can carry stiff penalties — you should not be looking at it as something to ‘beat.’

How to report someone driving without a full license?

You can contact your local police if you believe that someone is driving without a full license. Make sure to ask to remain anonymous if you do not want to do it publicly.

Can you drive on private property without a license?

This can be a grey area, but in most cases if you’re on private property and you have permission, you will not need to have a license. As always, you should check with state officials to seek clarity — rules change depending on the state.

Can you test drive a car without a license?

No, if you’re going to be test driving a vehicle on public roads you will need to hold a license. Not doing so can carry severe punishments in some circumstances.

Do I need a lawyer for driving without a license?

It is often a misdemeanor charge, so you may want to contact an attorney if you want to fight the case and reduce potential punishments.

Can you drive without a license in Texas?

No, you need to have a driver’s license if you want to drive in Texas. If you don’t, Texas authorities will most likely enact strict punishments on you.

Can you drive a boat without a driver's license?

This is a complex area of boating law that will depend on a range of factors including the state that you’re boating in, as well as who else is in the boat.

Can you drive a forklift without a license?

This depends on local regulations but you will most likely need a certification to operate a forklift.

Can you drive a motorcycle without a motorcycle license?

No, you need a motorcycle license if you want to be able to drive a motorcycle on public roads throughout the United States. Driving without one can result in strict penalties.

How do I report someone driving without a license?

If you’d like to report someone for driving without a license, you can contact your local police station or driving authorities. You should also ask to remain anonymous if you want your identity to be hidden.

Can you drive off road without a license?

Depending on the state, you should be able to drive on private property without a license as long as you are granted permission by the property owner. Still, it’s always a good idea to check with your local authorities before you drive off road.

How to find driving license number without card?

You should be able to find your license number by heading to the DMV with the required forms of information and ID. It’s always a good idea to photocopy your license to avoid similar situations.

How to get out of driving without a license?

You should not be attempting to get around driving without a license. You should always have a license if you operate a vehicle. If you are caught without a license, it’s probably best to consult with an attorney straight away.

Can you take a defensive driving course without a license?

In most cases, you will need a valid license to take a defensive driving course. But this may also depend on the reason that you’re having to take the course. Make sure to speak to the course instructor or your local authorities to see if you’ll need a valid license.