To drive any car in the U.S, you need to have a valid driver license. Driving a vehicle without a valid driver’s license is illegal and could lead up to harsh penalties. In every state, it is illegal to operate motor vehicle when:

  • The vehicle’s driver has never been issued a valid driver license in the state
  • The driver has a suspended or revoked driver’s license
  • The driver license is under the age of 16 and does not have a valid drivers license

Is Driving without a License a Serious Offense?

Driving without a license is not a mere traffic violation like a speeding ticket.  Driving without a license is a criminal offense, and the penalties can be severe depending on the state you are caught driving in: 

  • CaliforniaMisdemeanor and car can be impounded for 30 days or even forfeited
  • Florida – Misdemeanor
  • Illinois – Driving privileges and right to apply for license can be suspended or revoked
  • New York – Misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $500 and imprisonment for up to 30 days
  • Texas – Misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $200

What If I Don’t Get a New License after Moving to a New State?

As soon as you become a resident of a new state, you must apply for a driver’s license from that state.  The time within which you must change your driver’s license varies from state to state, but if you fail to do so within the time allotted by state law, your license from your old home state is invalid and you become an unlicensed driver.

What Happens If I Allow an Unlicensed Driver to Drive My Vehicle?

States impose serious penalties if you allow an unlicensed driver to operate your car.  For example, in Florida, you can be thrown in jail and ordered to pay a fine.  In California, your car can be impounded for 30 days or even forfeited, unless you have filed a stolen vehicle report.

What If I Just Forgot My License?

If you forgot your license while driving, you can get a warning or a ticket if you are pulled over. You may be given a chance to prove that you actually do have a valid license to avoid the fine.

Do I Need a Lawyer for My Unlicensed Driver Problem?

If you have been cited for driving without a valid driver’s license, you should speak to a criminal defense lawyer immediately to learn more about your rights, your defenses and the complicated legal system.