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What Happens When You Get Pulled Over Without a Driver's License? Blacks Law Dictionary

By James Hirby

In order to drive and be in accordance with the law, individuals must have their driver’s licenses. Some people mistakenly believe that driving is a right. However, according to federal law, driving is a privilege that can be revoked if certain conditions are not met. People who get pulled over without a driver’s license could face serious consequences, depending upon the circumstances. 

Consequences

Driving without a license is considered a crime in all 50 states. In most cases, if no crash occurred and the driver wasn’t driving under the influence of anything, the charge for driving without a license for the first time will be a misdemeanor one that is punishable with fines, community service and/or possibly jail time. Depending upon the state that individuals get pulled over in, the fines for driving without a license could range anywhere between $100 and $1,000. 

Forgetting a License

Driving without a license because the license was forgotten at home or somewhere else is a bit different that driving without having a license at all. Most states will differentiate between the two, as humans are subject to forgetfulness and making mistakes. Usually, if an individual doesn’t have a driver’s license to show to police officers when they get pulled over, but they do have a valid driver’s license, they will merely be issued a much less severe traffic citation for not having their licenses with them. In many instances, the citations can be plead down or dismissed altogether upon the individuals showing the court their valid driver’s licenses when they appear before the court. 

Driving on Suspended or Revoked Licenses

People whose are pulled over and don’t have their driver’s licenses or who do have them with them, but they are suspended or revoked, almost always get arrested. Driving on a suspended or revoked driver’s license is a much more serious offense than driving with no driver’s license at all or simply forgetting it. People whose licenses have been suspended or revoked for whatever reason are not supposed to be driving at all until they resolve the issues that led to the suspensions or revocations. Additionally, people who are caught driving on suspended or revoked licenses could lose their driving privileges even longer than they did initially and have to serve longer lengths of jail time and pay higher fines and fees. 

The possible consequences for getting pulled over vary depending upon the circumstances surrounding why individuals don’t have a driver’s license with them. While instances of forgetfulness might be forgiven, deliberate driving without a license is a serious offense that comes with serious consequences.

Nathaniel Brown