Every crime in California is defined by a specific code section. Our attorneys explain the law, penalties and best defense strategies for every major crime in California.
Penalties » What are the Criminal Penalties for Driving Without a License?
The answer to this question depends on what you mean by “driving without a license.”
First, let’s say you actually have a valid driver’s license–but you forget it at home and end up getting stopped by a CHP or other law enforcement officer. This actually is a crime — California Vehicle Code 12951 VC failure to display a license.
However, failing to show a driver’s license, where you simply forgot your license at home, is only a California infraction. It carries a maximum potential fine of two hundred fifty dollars ($250). Not only that, but if you can show the court that you did have a valid license at the time of your arrest, then in most cases you can get the charge dismissed.
Second, let’s say you were caught driving at a time when you actually did not have a valid driver’s license. Maybe you’d never obtained a license, or maybe your license expired and you did not get around to renewing it.
In that case, you can be charged with Vehicle Code 12500 VC driving without a license. This crime in most circumstances is a California misdemeanor. It carries up to six (6) months in county jail and/or a fine of up to one thousand dollars ($1,000).
Finally, let’s say you drive without a valid license–and the reason is that your license was suspended or revoked for a particular reason (like a DUI conviction). This is the crime of Vehicle Code 14601 VC driving on a suspended license.
Driving on a suspended or revoked license is a misdemeanor. But the penalty scheme is complicated and depends on why your license was suspended in the first place. More details can be found in our page on penalties, punishment and sentencing for driving on a suspended license.
And if your license was suspended for a DUI conviction, there is a good chance that a driving on a suspended license charge will result in a probation violation in your DUI case. (See our related article, California laws for driving without a license versus driving without a license in possession.)
A former Los Angeles prosecutor, attorney Neil Shouse graduated with honors from UC Berkeley and Harvard Law School (and completed additional graduate studies at MIT). He has been featured on CNN, Good Morning America, Dr Phil, Court TV, The Today Show and Court TV. Mr Shouse has been recognized by the National Trial Lawyers as one of the Top 100 Criminal and Top 100 Civil Attorneys.
Every state in the U.S. treats the crime of kidnapping as a felony offense (as opposed to a misdemeanor). Many states have different degrees of felonies so that the specific penalties for this offense will slightly vary among jurisdictions. However, most states say that the offense is punishable by minimum state prison sentences of up to ...
Pupils who habitually miss school face fines, community service, and driver’s license suspensions in Nevada: Being a child “in need of supervision” due to Habitual Truancy Juvenile delinquency and DMV penalties First time Up to $100 in fines (plus a $10 administrative assessment);* or 8 to 16 hours of community service (done at school, if ...
Per Penal Code 1203.2, Rules for Probation Violations in California, the main penalty for a probation violation is that the judge can: revoke probation, and sentence the defendant to up to the maximum term of the offense for which he was committed. Depending on the facts of a case, a judge may also: revoke probation ...
In the wake of the terrorist attacks in Paris, San Bernardino, and elsewhere, there has been an uptick in crimes against Muslim-Americans, including vandalism of mosques. If you vandalize or damage a mosque in Las Vegas or disrupt worship being conducted within a mosque, you can face serious criminal penalties. NRS 206.125 NRS 206.125 makes ...