Caught driving without a license? The penalties can be serious.

Consequences for motorists caught driving without a license vary by state. In all 50 states, it is illegal to drive without a license. Driving with a suspended license and driving with a revoked license are closely related.

Although every state has its own rules, they tend to be harsh on those caught driving without a license. In most locations, driving without a license is treated as a misdemeanor, not an ordinary traffic offense. That usually means you will need to go to court and may need to retain a lawyer.

In Indiana, driving without a license is considered a felony – even on the first offense.

There are three aspects to the penalties:

1. Fines for Driving Without a License

Fines for driving without a license can range from $50 to $25,000 depending on where you live and whether it is a first offense. While the average fee is about $500-$1,000, it often ranges into the several thousands. Since this is a misdemeanor charge, extra costs can be levied by the court.

It is very common for your vehicle to be impounded after you are accused of driving without a license. You will not be able to regain custody of the vehicle until you have paid the fine and met all other obligations. If your driving privileges are suspended (or you were never legally allowed to drive) that could take a very long time.

2. Lost Driving Privileges for Driving Without a License

Most people who are found driving without a license have had their license suspended or revoked in the past. Sometimes, teens who have never been licensed before are cited for driving without a license, but this is still rare. In either case, driving without a license now can mean you won’t have one in the future.

In some states, an existing license suspension can be doubled if you are stopped for driving without a license. Others add a period ranging from three months to two years. This can be especially rough for people who were caught without insurance, had a license suspension, and then were caught driving without a license!

3. Jail Time for Driving Without a License

Jail time for driving without a license is not guaranteed, especially on a first offense. But when states do provide for jail time, the amount ranges from several days to 12 months. Virginia is the only state that mandates prison for up to a year, but several states have imposed a maximum sentence of six months.

It may be unusual to get the maximum prison sentence for driving without a license, but it is never worth the risk! The consequences of jail time can follow you for years. To give just one example, you will have trouble finding affordable car insurance for years after the qualifying offense, even once you get out.

4. Subsequent Driving Without a License Offenses

Even states that are relatively lenient about a first offense impose strict penalties on those who drive without a license on more than one occasion. Fines can be astronomical, ranging into the tens of thousands of dollars. You may lose your driving privilege for years, and other states can consider this if you move.

Prison time also becomes very serious for second and subsequent offenses. In Vermont, you can be imprisoned for up to two years on a second offense, whereas in Kentucky, Florida, and Georgia, you can be imprisoned for up to five years on subsequent offenses.

Penalties or Fines for Driving Without Insurance  

If you are stopped by a law enforcement officer, you will generally be required to show your driver’s license, insurance, and proof of registration. In most states, you can be cited for not having insurance if you fail to show an insurance card, even if you actually do hold a valid car insurance policy.

If this happens, you’ll need to take your proof of insurance to court to avoid major penalties.

What if you don’t have car insurance?

Across the United States, most states immediately suspend your license and vehicle registration if you don’t have car insurance. You will also be required to start an expensive SR22 car insurance policy for high risk drivers.

Fines for driving without insurance are very hefty. It is not unusual to be charged thousands of dollars, with the cutoff in many states set at $5,000. You might be required to pay the fine in full before you can drive again. You may also be liable for vehicle impounding fees and a special reinstatement fee for your license and registration.

More than a dozen states establish prison sentences for driving without insurance. These range anywhere from 15 day to a year. While 30-day sentences are common, a handful of states provide for six-month sentences. A court may impose mandatory community service, too.

What If It’s a First-Time Offense?  

As with most other crimes, a first-time offense can be treated with more lenience.

As a first-time offender, it is to your benefit to attend all court hearings and to explain your side of the story to the judge. While having the case dismissed is unlikely, taking responsibility for your actions might help you avoid getting the strictest sentence imposed in your case.

Always sign any tickets and citations you are given. Signing a ticket is used as proof of receipt, not as an admission of guilt. If you refuse to sign a traffic ticket, the officer can impose additional penalties on you before you ever have the opportunity to state your case.

Remember, this is not legal advice. If you are worried about the legal repercussions of a traffic stop or any other situation, it’s a wise idea to consult with a qualified attorney who can give you the facts.

Is There Any Ticket for Driving Without a License?  

If you don’t have your license with you, can you still get a ticket?

The answer is yes. If you have a current, valid license and you’re legally allowed to drive, you should always carry your license with you when you operate a vehicle. You can receive a traffic ticket and a light fine for not having your driver’s license. This is considered a traffic violation and not a misdemeanor or major crime.

In many cases, police officers can determine whether you have a valid license by checking the computer system.

If there is any confusion about whether you have a valid license, you have the option of bringing your license to a court hearing. Sometimes, the judge in these cases will strike down the fine and give you a warning. This may also mean that you can keep points off your license.

Avoid a ticket for driving without a license by always keeping your license in your wallet.

It’s not easy to bounce back if you drive without insurance. Cheap Insurance helps you track down the most affordable insurance in your area so you never have to worry. You can compare car insurance from all the best auto insurance companies by state – making it simple to save money on car insurance.

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