A driver’s license is a valuable privilege that is required in order to operate a motor vehicle on any Virginia road. For a variety of reasons, some individuals may not possess a driver’s license in Virginia, but they may still have responsibilities such as education, childcare or employment that demand their presence. Thus, they elect to drive, even without a driver’s license. If you have been caught driving without a license in VA, here is what you can expect.
Situations That Constitute Driving Without a License
Driving without a license may seem self-explanatory; however, a wide variety of situations can constitute operation of a motor vehicle without a license. The most common is, as you may expect, actually not being in possession of a driver’s license. This would apply to someone who has never acquired a license but is operating a vehicle anyway.
However, other situations may also apply. If someone has had their license suspended or revoked that license is no longer valid. They will need to either petition to reinstate the license at a later time (for a suspension) or apply for a new license entirely (for a revocation). In both of these situations, the driver does not have an eligible driver’s license and can be penalized, even if they possessed a license before.
Possible Penalties for Driving Without a License in VA
In general, driving without a license in VA, regardless of the context of why, is a misdemeanor (Class 2) if it is your first offense. The first offense is typically the least severe in terms of penalties, a judge can impose jail time of up to six months, a maximum $1,000 fine or both. Because a first offense is often more lenient than later occurrences, judges may not require the full possible penalty; a skilled traffic lawyer can help you to ensure that your punishment is as lenient as possible.
From the second offense onward, the penalties become more severe. As a Class 1 misdemeanor, you can now expect up to one year in jail, a fine of $2,500 or some mixture of the two. While a judge may suspend your driver’s license for a first offense, he or she is much more likely to do so on the second or subsequent offenses. Continuing to drive with a suspended license poses new and often even more significant problems with greater punishments.
If you operate a motor vehicle without a license, your car can also be impounded, and you are responsible for paying the fees for storage and impounding when you retrieve it. Your car will remain impounded for a maximum of three days; you may recover it sooner if you obtain a valid driver’s license.
Arguing Against a No-License Charge
In order to be charged with driving without a license in VA, the prosecution must demonstrate that you were operating a motor vehicle on a Virginia highway and did not have a driver’s license that was valid. Each of these elements can be contested by a skilled legal professional depending upon the factors at play in your case.
Not all motorized objects that you can drive are considered motor vehicles, such as mopeds, electric or standard bicycles or scooters. Similarly, the law states that you must be driving on a highway, and the definition of this term could be contested by your attorney. If you were sitting still, you can argue that you were not “operating” the vehicle. However, one of the most common means of overcoming a charge of driving without a license is when you do not have a Virginia driver’s license because you just moved. The law grants a brief 60-day grace period in which a license from another state or country remains valid; you may utilize this exception to avoid penalties if you have just moved to Virginia from another state or country.
Work With Virginia Traffic Law Professionals
If you have been charged with driving without a license in Virginia, you have options to mitigate the penalties that you may face or avoid them entirely. Rely on a skilled traffic law professional who can represent you in court to achieve the best outcome possible in your case. The Law Offices of Kermit A. Monge would be happy to review your situation and offer guidance about how to overcome a charge of driving without a Virginia driver’s license. Reach out to schedule a consultation with a traffic law professional to discuss your case and determine if you have any avenues for beating the charge or reducing the penalties.