Any exercise of driving privileges must be pursuant to traffic laws. A motorist who fails to comply with such could face suspensions, revocation, probation, or even jail sentence, depending on the circumstance.
Irresponsibly operating a motor vehicle could result in certain traffic violations and incidents. These include speeding, texting behind the wheel, reckless driving, driving under the influence, driving on a suspended license, or hit and run. These could eventually lead to license suspension or revocation.
Driving while suspended, with a revoked license, or no driver’s license at all are all punishable under traffic law. Depending on the property damage and severity of injuries and if fatalities are involved, the case may be aggravated and may lead to a felony conviction.
Driving without a license is identified as a wobbler offense that could be prosecuted as either an infraction or a misdemeanor. If the conviction will be classified as an infraction, costly fines shall be the maximum punishment. Meanwhile, if you have been charged with a misdemeanor criminal offense, the maximum punishment will be a significant amount of fines and six months imprisonment.
Note that driving without a license is not the same as driving while your driver’s license has been suspended or revoked by the Department of Motor Vehicles. Those who do the latter are charged with and must face a more serious crime. The DMV shall not ‘only’ suspend or revoke a driver’s license since the offender has broken more than one statute under driving law. To an extent, driving without a license is a less complicated traffic violation.
When charged with driving without a license, it is best to hire a criminal defense lawyer who can help you dismiss the charges against you. Under state law, some individuals are required and some do not need a California license to operate a vehicle.
State residents driving on public highways or in publicly accessible parking lots must have a legal driver’s license from California.
In contrast, individuals who are not required to have a valid license from California include:
- government officials driving vehicles owned by and operated during the federal business for the United States
- operators of a husbandry vehicle running on a site other than on a public road
- drivers of an off-highway vehicle going across public roads
- tourists at least 18 years of age who has a valid license from their origin country
- non-residents aged 21 above, if hazardous material is transported and holding a legitimate license from another state to do so
- non-residents with a valid diplomatic driver’s license
As in above, violators of the vehicle code may be prosecuted and violations may lead to non-criminal infractions or misdemeanors. The penalties for driving without a license traffic offense could include up to six years of jail time, costly fines, and a 30-day impoundment of the vehicle (if the offender has similar offenses in his or her criminal record before the conviction).
The primary aspect that the prosecution would consider in a case of driving without a license is the criminal history of the violator. A background check is key. Generally, a first-time violation would be charged as an infraction. Subsequent violations are more likely to be prosecuted as a misdemeanor. However, an experienced criminal defense attorney may be able to convince the prosecutor to lower the charge to a traffic infraction.
With expert legal help and assistance, the following are defenses that may be used against the above charges:
- The defendant is a tourist and does not have a license issued by California but holds a valid license from his state or country of residence
- The defendant is legally exempted from having a driver’s license from California
- The defendant was not driving the vehicle, otherwise known as the “no driving” defense
- The defendant had a legal license but it was not in his or her possession the time he or she got pulled over.
Proving that you have a valid license at the alleged time of the violation is often the best legal defense. If applicable, when your license is not from California, your defense lawyer could help you in obtaining DMV records and in proving that you are eligible to vote and pay property taxes in the other jurisdiction.
Furthermore, many prosecutors would allow the defendant to postpone prosecution and seek a state license. This is unless the defendant’s driving record will show that he or she is a repeat offender.
If you suspect that you might have a warrant of an arrest related to the above or other criminal offenses, contact a trusted defense lawyer immediately. Any traffic ticket must be taken seriously. Protect your legal rights. Talk to our experienced criminal defense attorney at the Law Offices of Marc Grossman. Call 855-5664-911 for a free consultation.