These days unless you live in the big city, it’s hard to get around without a car. That being said, there are several things that you have to worry about when you have a car; like car insurance, renewing your tags, paying personal property taxes, and having your driver’s license.
While the specific laws and regulations are different in every state, it’s illegal to drive without a license in all 50. You shouldn’t get carted off to jail for not having your license on you, but if you know that you don’t have your license, or if it’s been suspended or revoked you could be in some serious trouble.
The punishments and penalties for driving with a suspended or revoked license vary widely from taking driving courses, tickets that require you to fix the problem within a month, impoundment of the vehicle you’re driving, and even jail time (when you know that your license has been revoked).
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Penalties for Driving Without Your License
It is illegal to drive without a driving license when drivers:
- Have never been issued a license from the state that they live in.
- Have had their driver’s license suspended due to driving infractions or other legal breaches.
- Are operating motor vehicles when their driver’s licenses have been revoked.
If you can’t produce your license if a police officer asks you to, you will face some penalties, depending on the circumstances that you’re in, the status of your legal records, and your license history. The charges enforced by police officers are in two categories: correctable offenses and willful violations of the law.
If you just forgot to carry your license, most of the time you’ll just get a ticket that requires you to show up to court and prove that you fixed the issue. After appearing in court, the charge is dismissed by the court. If you fail to appear or can’t prove that you have your license, often charges evolve into willful violations and carry much more severe penalties.
If you know that your license has been revoked or suspended, you’ll face very serious charges. The reasons for suspensions vary (including driving under the influence, speeding, trafficking illegal substances, or due to expiration), but the punishments can be very severe. If a driver willfully drives with a suspended or revoked license, they will automatically be cited. Often, drivers are arrested and charged with a misdemeanor for breaking the law.
These penalties vary depending on the state you live in as well.
In states like Washington, you could be put in jail for up to two years if you regularly break the law. In Illinois, drivers have their licenses suspended for driving without proof, and second offenses lose drivers their licenses.
It’s important to research your home state and understand the laws for your license as well. Often, these kinds of offenses are best managed with the help of a skilled attorney.