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Driving Without a License

Driving without a license is illegal in every state in the USA or even driving a car with a license that is suspended or revoked is illegal in all of the fifty states in the USA and its consequences can be serious. Most states however differ between driving without a valid driving license and driving a car without a proof of a driver's license, meaning when the driver is not physically carrying his valid driving license with him.

In most the cases, the first time this happens, it is not just a simple traffic violation, but actually minor offense. However if the offense is repeated again and again then it becomes a felony. There are penalties for driving without a license, penalties for driving with an expired license, and penalties for not being able to produce a license when stopped by the law enforcement agencies. These can be from just 'fix it tickets' to having the car impounded or even serving jail time.

The fines that you may have to pay can range from anything between $50 in Oklahoma State, up to around $25,000 for a second offense in Illinois. You can even have your license suspended up to a year on the first offense. If there is a repeated offense then your license suspension may go on until a year or so. There might also be a possibility that the law enforcement agencies might take away your car or your license plate as well. For repeated offenses there is a large possibility of serving some jail time which may go on for five years, there can be community services as well, and not to mention that your driving record would have the Misdemeanour record on it now.

The penalties of driving without not having a license at all are less severe than driving with a license that is suspended or revoked, but this is still considered a Misdemeanour rather than a mere traffic ticket. In most of the states, it is such a serious offense that you may end up leaving the scene in handcuffs if you are found driving with a suspended or revoked license.

Table with Penalties on each State

State Fees 1st Offense Penalty Subsequent Offense
Alabama Misdemeanour: $100-$500 Possible imprisonment for no more than 180 days and immediate vehicle impoundment. Possible license suspension increase by 6 months.
Alaska First Offense - Class A Misdemeanour: 10 day suspended imprisonment provided at least 80 hours of community service are completed; possible forfeiture of vehicle; license suspension increased by at least 90 days. Subsequent Offense - Class A Misdemeanour: Imprisonment for at least 10 days; possible forfeiture of vehicle; license suspension increased by at least 90 days.
Arizona Class 1 Misdemeanour - Imprisonment for up to 6 months; possible vehicle impoundment. Driving on a suspended or revoked license - Class 2 Misdemeanour This charge carries a potential sentence of 4 months in jail and fines of up to $750.
Arkansas Misdemeanour: Fine no more than $500 Imprisonment for between 2 days and 6 months
California $300-$1,000 Fine Imprisonment for between 5 days and 6 months Subsequent Offense - Imprisonment for between 10 days and 1 year; $500-$2000 fine.
Colorado Misdemeanour - No more than $500 Imprisonment for no more than 6 months, license suspension increased by 1 year Subsequent Offense - Driver ineligible to be issued a driver’s license for a period of three years.
Connecticut $150 - $200 Imprisonment for no more than 3 months Subsequent Offense - Imprisonment for no more than 1 year, $200-$600 fine, or both.
Delaware $500-$1,000 Imprisonment for between 30 days and 6 months. Possible vehicle impoundment of at least 90 days Subsequent Offense - Imprisonment for between 60 days and 1 year; $1,000-$4,000 fine; possible vehicle impoundment of at least 1 year.
District of Columbia $2,500 Imprisonment for no more than 1 year
Florida Misdemeanour $500 - $5,000 First Offense - 2nd Degree Misdemeanour: Imprisonment for no more than 60 days or $500 fine Second Offense - 1st Degree Misdemeanour: Imprisonment for no more than 1 year or $1,000 fine.Subsequent Offense- 3rd Degree Felony: Imprisonment for no more than 5 years or $5,000 fine. Immediate vehicle impoundment.
Georgia Misdemeanour - $500 -$5,000 First Offense - Misdemeanour: Imprisonment for between 2 days and 1 year; possible additional fine of no more than $500. Second or Third Offenses - High and Aggravated Misdemeanour: Imprisonment for between 10 days and 1 year; possible additional fine of $1,000-$2,500. Fourth or Subsequent Offenses - Felony: Imprisonment for 1-5 years; possible addition fine of $2,500-$5,000.
Hawaii $250-$2,000 First Offense - Imprisonment for 3-30 days; $250-$1,000 fine; license suspension increased by 1 year; additional, inapplicable penalties. Second Offense - Imprisonment for 30 days; $1,000 fine; license suspension increased by 2 years; additional. Subsequent Offense - Imprisonment for 1 year, $2,000 fine. permanent license revocation; Additional, inapplicable penalties.
Idaho Misdemeanour - $1,000 -$3,000 First Offense - Misdemeanour: Imprisonment for between 2 days and 6 months; fine of no more than $1,000; license suspension increased by 180 days. Second Offense - Imprisonment for between 20 days and 1 year; fine of no more than $1,000; license suspension increased by 1 year. Subsequent Offense - Imprisonment for between 30 days and 1 year; fine of no more than $3,000; license suspension increased by 2 years.
Illinois Misdemeanour - $2,500 -$25,000 First Offense - Class A Misdemeanour: Imprisonment for no more than 1 year; fine of no more than $2,500. Subsequent Offense - Class 4 Felony: Imprisonment for 1-3 years; fine of up to $25,000. Possible vehicle impoundment. Fourth or Subsequent Offenses - Possible seizure of license plate; possible vehicle immobilization.
Indiana Felony - No more than $10,000 Class 6 Felony - Imprisonment for between 6 months and 2 years, 6 months; fine of no more than $10,000.
Iowa Misdemeanour - $250 -$1,500 License suspension increased for an additional like period or for one year, whichever is shorter.
Kansas Misdemeanour: $100 First Offense - Class B Nonperson Misdemeanour: Imprisonment for at least 5 days; fine of at least $100. Subsequent Offense - Class A Nonperson Misdemeanour: Imprisonment without eligibility for parole until completion of 5 days; fine of at least $100. License suspension increased by 90 days.
Kentucky First Offense - Class B Misdemeanour: Imprisonment for at least 90 days; license suspension increased by 6 months. Second Offense - Class A Misdemeanour: Imprisonment for between 90 days and 1 year; license suspension increased by 1 year.Third or Subsequent Offense - Class D Felony: Imprisonment for 1-5 years; license suspension revoked for additional 2 years.
Louisiana $500-$2,500 Person with a Class D or E driver’s license: Imprisonment for no more than 6 months, fine of no more than $500, or both.Person with a Class A, B, or C driver’s license: Imprisonment for no more than 6 months, fine of no more than $5,000, or both. Subsequent Offense - Imprisonment for between 7 days and 6 months; fine of $300-$500; potential civil fine of no more than $1,150. Subsequent Offense - Class A, B, or C driver’s license: Imprisonment for between 7 days and 6 months; fine of $300-$500; potential civil fine of no more than $2,500. License suspension increased by 1 year
Maine $250-$500 First Offense - $250. Second Offense - $500. Possible license suspension of 1 year.
Maryland Misdemeanour - $1,000 First Offense - Misdemeanour: Imprisonment for no more than 1 year, fine of no more than $1,000, or both; possible license suspension increased by no more than 1 year. Subsequent Offense - Misdemeanour Imprisonment for no more than 2 years, fine of no more than $1,000, or both; possible license suspension increased by no more than 18 months if second offense, no more than 2 years for subsequent offenses. Possible vehicle impoundment.
Massachusetts Misdemeanour - $500 -$1,000 First Offense - Imprisonment for no more than 10 days, $500-$1,000 fine, or both Subsequent Offense - Imprisonment for between 60 days and 1 year. License suspension increased by 60 days.
Michigan Misdemeanour - $500 -$1,000 First Offense - Misdemeanour: Imprisonment for no more than 93 days, a fine of no more than $500, or both. Second Offense - Misdemeanour: Imprisonment for no more than 1 year, a fine of no more than $1,000, or both. Cancellation of vehicle’s registration plates.License suspension increased by like period.
Minnesota Misdemeanour - No more than $1,000 Misdemeanour - Imprisonment for no more than 90 days, fine of no more than $1,000, or both.
Mississippi Misdemeanour - $200 -$500 Misdemeanour - Imprisonment for between 48 hours and 6 months; $200-$500 fine; license suspension increased by 6 months.
Missouri First Offense - Class D Misdemeanour: No set term of imprisonment; not to exceed one year. Second Offense - Class A Misdemeanour: Imprisonment for between 6 months and 1 year. Subsequent Offense - Class E Felony: Imprisonment for no more than 4 years.
Montana Misdemeanour - No more than $500 Imprisonment for between 2 days and 6 months, license suspension increased by 1 year, vehicle used is seized and rendered inoperable for 30 days.
Nebraska First Offense - Class II Misdemeanour: Unable to operate any motor vehicle for 1 year; license revocation for like period. Second or Third Offense - Class II Misdemeanour: Unable to operate any motor vehicle for 2 year; license revocation for like period. Fourth or Subsequent Offense - Class I Misdemeanour: Unable to operate any motor vehicle for 2 year; license revocation for like period.
Nevada Misdemeanour - No more than $1,000 Imprisonment for no more than 6 months, a fine of no more than $1,000, or both. If license suspended, extension of suspension by like period. If license (revoked), extension of period of ineligibility for license by 1 year.
New Hampshire Misdemeanour - No more than $1,000 Misdemeanour - Imprisonment for at least 1 week; fine of no more than $1,000; license suspension increased by 1 year.
New Jersey $500-$1,000 First Offense - $500 fine. Second Offense - Imprisonment for 1-5 days; $750 fine. Subsequent Offense - Imprisonment for 10 days; $1,000 fine. License suspension increased by no more than 6 months.
New Mexico Misdemeanour - No more than $1,000 Imprisonment for 4-364 days; possible fine of no more than $1,000. Possible vehicle immobilization.
New York Misdemeanour - $250 -$500 First Offense - Imprisonment for no more than 30 days, $200-$500 fine, or both. Subsequent Offens - : Imprisonment for no more than 180 days; fine of no less than $500.
North Carolina Misdemeanour - No more than $300 First Offense - Class 3 Misdemeanour - Imprisonment for 1-10 days; fine of no more than $200; license suspension increased by 1 year. Second Offense - License suspension increased by 2 years. Third Offense - Permanent license suspension.
North Dakota Misdemeanour - $1,500 -$3,000 First, Second or Third Offense - Class B Misdemeanour: Imprisonment for no more than 30 days, $1,500 fine, or both. Fourth or Subsequent Offense - Class A Misdemeanour - Imprisonment for no more than 1 year, $3,000 fine, or both.Possible destruction of license plate.
Ohio Misdemeanour - $1,000 First Offense - Unclassified Misdemeanour: Fine of no more than $1,000; 500 hours community service. Subsequent Offense - 1st Degree Misdemeanour: Imprisonment for no more than 180 days; $1,000 fine. Possible license plate impoundment.
Oklahoma Misdemeanour - $50-$1,000 First Offense - $100-$500 fine. Second Offense): $200-$750 fine. Subsequent Offense - Imprisonment for no more than 1 year, $300-$1,000 fine, or both.
Oregon $220-$2,000 Class A Traffic Infraction: $220-$2,000 fine. Possible vehicle impoundment.
Pennsylvania $200 Summary Offense: $200 fine; license suspension increased by 1 year if originally suspended, 2 years if it was originally revoked.
Rhode Island Misdemeanour - $250-$1,000 First Offense - Misdemeanour: Imprisonment for no more than 30 days; $250-$500 fine; license suspension increased by 3 months. Subsequent Offense - Imprisonment for no more than 1 year; $350-$1,000 fine; 2nd Offense - license suspension increased by 6 months, license revoked.
South Carolina $300-$1,000 First Offense - Imprisonment for no more than 30 days, $300 fine, or both. Second Offense - Imprisonment for no more than 60 days, $600 fine, or both. Subsequent Offense - Imprisonment for no more than 90 days; $1,000 fine.
South Dakota Misdemeanour - No more than $2,000 Revoked - Class 1 Misdemeanour: Imprisonment for no more than 1 year; fine of no more than $2,000. Suspended or Cancelled - Class 2 Misdemeanour: Imprisonment for no more than 30 days; fine of no more than $500.
Tennessee Misdemeanour - $500 -$2,500 First Offense - Class B Misdemeanour: Imprisonment for not more than 6 months, fine of no more than $500, or both; license suspension increased by like period of time. Subsequent Offense - Class A Misdemeanour: Imprisonment for not more than 11 months, 29 days, fine of no more than $2,500, or both; license suspension increased by like period of time.
Texas Misdemeanour - $500 -$2,000 First Offense - Class C Misdemeanour: Fine of no more than $500. Subsequent Offense - Class B Misdemeanour: Imprisonment for no more than 180 days, fine of no more than $2,000, or both.
Utah Misdemeanour - $1,000 Class B Misdemeanour: Imprisonment of no more than 6 months; $1,000 fine.
Vermont No more than $5,000 First Offense - Imprisonment for no more than 2 years, fine of no more than $5,000, or both. Sixth or Subsequent Offense - Imprisonment for no more 2 years, fine of $5,000, or both. Possible seizure of license plates.
Virginia Misdemeanour - No more than $2,500 Class 1 Misdemeanour - Imprisonment for no more than 12 months, fine of no more than $2,500, or both.
Washington Misdemeanour - No more than $5,000 Gross Misdemeanour - Imprisonment for no more than 364 days, fine of no more than $5,000, or both.
West Virginia Misdemeanour - $100 -$500 First Offense Misdemeanour - $100-$500 fine. Second Offense - Misdemeanour: $100-$500 fine. Third or Subsequent Offense - Misdemeanour: Imprisonment for 30-90 days; $150-$500 fine.
Wisconsin $50-$2,500 Suspended - $50-$200 fine. Revoked - Fine of no more than $2,500.Vehicle may be impounded
Wyoming Misdemeanour - $750 Misdemeanour - Imprisonment for no more than 6 months, fine of no more than $750, or both.

Data provided by the National Conference of State Legislatures. SOURCE: http://www.ncsl.org

Driving when I left my license at home

Driving a vehicle without carrying your valid driving license will get you a ticket if you have forgotten to carry it with you or left it at home. It will probably be a minor traffic violation which will probably be dismissed by you showing up in the court with your valid driving license and maybe even paying a small fine.

Driving with a suspended license

It is a grave mistake to drive a car with a revoked or a suspended license, no matter how tempting it may be, it can be a very expensive mistake on your part. Most of the times, if your license is suspended or revoked it is probably because you broke some traffic laws or had an offense which led you to the suspension of your license. And now if you are found driving again with a revoked/suspended license, this would just add to your offenses and increase your time and maybe even land you jail!

Difference between Suspended and a Revoked License

  • Suspended License: You license can be suspended due to a lot of points on your license or could be because you were driving without a proof of insurance or could be another major offense. A suspended license means you are at a temporary loss of your driving rights or privileges for some time. How your license is reinstated differs from state to state. In some states, the suspension might end automatically and your license would be reinstated while in other states you would have to reapply to have the suspension lifted.
  • Revoked License: This one is quite a serious matter. When your license is revoked, it means it has been canceled and only after you have met all the requirements or the time frames that were imposed on you, only then you can reapply for a completely new driving license. The license is usually revoked for major or serious offenses such as DUI (driving under influence).

The penalties for driving with a suspended or a revoked license differ in all states. In most states, however, a large fine is imposed which can range up to $25,000. The suspension time that you have to serve will obviously increase as well and there is mostly jail time as well for such offense in most states, the time you have to spend in the jail, however, varies according to your state as well as on the seriousness of your offense. Like mentioned before, the first time offense is not as serious as a repeated offense that is done on a second, or a third time, which will guarantee some time behind bars.

Another negative to add under your belt if you are found driving with a revoked/suspended license is the insurance front. Most insurance companies take it negatively and this leads to increases in your insurance rates as it is considered high-risk behavior. If your license has been suspended for a really long period of time, you can even expect your insurance policy to cancel and then you would get much higher rates of insurance once you apply for insurance again.

Letting someone else drive your car without license

Another important point when it comes to driving without a license is that, not only should you refrain from driving without a valid license, but never ever let anyone else behind your wheel, who do not have a license. If the unlicensed driver gets into an accident with your car, it can be an insurance nightmare for you, since it is the car that is insured and not the driver. Your insurance company would be on solid legal rights to deny any claim for the car, thus you would be solely responsible to pay for the cost of repairing or even replacing your car. Most of the insurance companies do have a clause that states that all insured vehicles must be driven by drivers having a valid license.

This can lead to a high increase in your insurance payments as well and there might also be a chance that the insurance company might cancel your policy as well and reapplying for another one will probably get you much higher rates than before. Many states might even take away the vehicle from you if it is found in an accident with an unlicensed driver and also impose fines which you would have to pay in order to get your car back.

One in Five unlicensed drivers are involved in fatal accidents

There is a good and a valid reason why the laws are so strict in keeping the unlicensed drivers off the road. Not only it is a general disobedience to not following the laws of the country but it is also dangerous or risky for other drivers on the road.

According to a study by AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, one if five crashes which are fatal, involve an unlicensed driver who either does not have a license or whose license status is unknown to the law enforcement agencies. The study also showed that a driver with a suspended license is most likely to repeat the same offense again and showed that 28 percent of the people who broke the law had received more than three license suspensions or revocations in 3 years before being involved in a deadly collision again.

Thus, it is better to be safe than sorry. It is always better to catch a ride with somebody or take the public transport if you do not have your license in handy with you, as not only will it be bad for your record but would also be very expensive.

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