Consequences of Driving Without a License

close up of cop looking up info at traffic stop - driving without license concept

Driving without a license is a serious traffic violation in Pennsylvania. It’s also one that can come with severe consequences. Not only can driving with a revoked or suspended license mean a fine, jail time, and revocation for a longer period, but it can also prevent you from being able to go to school or work. However, it’s important to understand there are many different scenarios that can give rise to a violation of driving without a license — simply leaving your license at home is not treated the same under the law as driving with a revoked license.

Is Driving Without a License a Crime in Pennsylvania?

Under the Pennsylvania Vehicle Code, all drivers are required to be licensed to operate a vehicle. The law specifically states that no person, unless they meet an exemption, may drive a motor vehicle on a highway or public property within the Commonwealth unless they have a valid license. Driving without a license is considered a summary offense, punishable by a fine of $200.

There are several ways you might be violating the law by driving without a license. Maybe you never applied for a license. Or, you might have a valid license but are not carrying the document. Essentially, this means that you have a driver’s license, but it is not in your possession at the time you’re pulled over because you forgot it or lost it. In such cases, you may be able to have a violation dismissed if you can prove that you have a valid driver’s license within 15 days of the violation. However, you may still be required to pay a monetary fine for driving without your license on your person.

Driving with a Suspended or Revoked License

Pennsylvania law strictly prohibits operating a vehicle while driving privileges are suspended or revoked. According to the Pennsylvania Vehicle Code, any person who is guilty of driving with a revoked or suspended license commits a summary offense and will be required to pay a $200 fine.

There are many reasons a license can be revoked or suspended, including (but not limited to) the following:

  • Having too many traffic violations
  • Being convicted of certain types of fraud
  • Reckless driving
  • Engaging in drag racing
  • Serious assault by a vehicle as a result of driving under the influence
  • Accidents that cause injury, death, or property damage
  • Committing a felony where a vehicle was involved

In the event your license was revoked or suspended, and you were found operating a vehicle, the period for license revocation or suspension can be increased. A first-time offender may be required to pay a fine up to $500 and can face 60-90 days in jail.

If you were caught driving without a license after it was suspended due to a DUI and there is evidence of alcohol in your system, the penalties increase substantially. You can face a $1,000 fine and 90 days in jail for a first offense. For a second offense, you can be charged with a third-degree misdemeanor, fined $2,500, and sentenced to six months in jail. A third offense can be charged as a first-degree misdemeanor, and you can face a fine of $5,000 and two years in jail. In these cases, your vehicle may also be impounded.

What Does it Mean if Your License is Expired?

A driver’s license in Pennsylvania is valid for four years and expires on the day after the driver’s birthday. There is no grace period for an expired license. Once it has been expired for more than six months, you will not be able to go through the process to renew it online since it is not considered active. Rather, you will typically have to go through the DMV’s restoration process.

If your license is expired, it means you voluntarily allowed it to have a void status. Whether you simply forgot to renew it or intentionally failed to do so, operating a vehicle when your license is expired is illegal. In the event you get pulled over by law enforcement and it is discovered your license is no longer valid, you may be issued a ticket and can face a fine of up to $200.

If You Are Facing a Charge for Driving Without a License Contact an Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney

Depending on the surrounding circumstances, facing a charge of driving without a license can be a serious matter — particularly if a DUI is involved. It’s best to have the guidance of a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney who can fight for your rights and secure the best possible outcome in your case. Located in Exeter, Pennsylvania, The Kulick Law Firm is committed to providing skillful defense to clients in Northeastern Pennsylvania who have been charged with traffic-related offenses and various other crimes. Call (570) 203-2756 to schedule a consultation.

Categories: Criminal Defense