To drive a vehicle, you must have a valid driver’s license. Driving without a valid driver’s license is a crime and punishable by law. But not having a driver’s license and forgetting your valid driver’s license at home are two different things.
In Georgia and around the United States, both carry a penalty for the driver, although leaving your wallet at home with your driver’s license inside is much less serious than not having a valid license at all.
Penalties for driving without a valid license vary depending on a variety of different factors, including the state you live in, whether or not this was your first offense, and whether your license was suspended, revoked, or expired.
Driving Without a Valid License
If a police officer pulls you over and you are without a license that the officer can verify, he could charge you with driving without a license. There are a few reasons an officer cannot verify your driver’s license, including:
- A canceled, suspended, or revoked driver’s license
- An expired license
- Lack of ever having a driver’s license
Operating a vehicle without a driver’s license holds different penalties and fines, depending on how many offenses you have.
if you drive without a license and it is your first offense, you will face the least penalties. In Georgia, there is a mandatory minimum fine of $500. You could also face two days of possible jail time and have your license suspended for two months.
Keep in mind that driving with a suspended license during that time could lead to a second offense. Note: This first offense only applies to Georgia residents and not residents of another state passing through Georgia.
If you have just moved to Georgia, you must apply for a Georgia driver’s license within 30 days. Failing to apply in time will lead to your current license’s expiration, no matter the printed expiration date on your out-of-state license.
Second Through Fourth Offenses
A second offense that occurs within five years of the first carries a hefty penalty. If you’re caught driving without license proof, you’ll face a fine between $1,000 to $2,500, ten days or more of jail time, and a longer suspension of your driver’s license.
If the court convicts you of driving without a license within five years, the state of Georgia considers your second and third offenses as high and aggravated misdemeanors.
A fourth conviction of the same offense is a felony and becomes part of your permanent criminal record. Upon conviction of this fourth offense within five years of the first, the court collects your fingerprints and tracks you using the Georgia Crime Information Center (GCIC) system.
You also face one to five years of prison time, a fine of $2,500 to $5,000, and a possible suspended or revoked license for life.
Driving Without a License on You in Georgia
As mentioned, driving without driving license credentials and forgetting your driver’s license at home are two separate situations. In this case, you have a valid driver’s license, but you’re not carrying it when an officer pulls you over in the state of Georgia.
Operating a motor vehicle without a driver’s license in your possession is against Georgia law. According to George code 40-5-29, you must carry a driver’s license while driving and present that license upon demand by a police officer.
If you can’t, and the officer can verify that you have a license, you will face a fine of no more than $10 by the court.
What If They Can’t Verify?
If the police officer can’t verify that you have a valid driver’s license when they stop you, they could write you a ticket for driving without a license. In that event, you would go to court and present your driver’s license, so they reduce your charge, and you pay the fine.
On the other hand, if you can’t produce a license, valid on the date of the stop, you could face a more severe charge.
Non-Residents Driving Without a License in Georgia
Non-residents driving in Georgia must also have a driver’s license that isn’t suspended or revoked. In fact, driving with an invalid license through Georgia opens up more problems for the driver and the court. That’s because the court needs to assure the driver will appear for their court date.
In that case, a police officer will probably arrest the offender, and they must post a bond. Failure to show could lead to jail time and the loss of bond money.
Accidents With an Unlicensed Driver
People driving with a suspended license or an otherwise invalid license are more likely to leave the scene of an accident. Oftentimes, they don’t have valid insurance to drive their vehicle.
If you have an accident with an unlicensed driver, contact an attorney. You want to not only cover your expenses but ensure someone is looking out for your rights.
Dealing with legal issues can overwhelm anyone. That’s why it’s good to reach out to professional attorneys with experience in Georgia law when you face charges in the state. Whether you’re facing charges for driving without a license or had an accident with an unlicensed driver, a qualified lawyer can help.
Call Georgia Auto Law for help with your driver’s license issues, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 404-662-4949, or online through live chat.