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.
Vehicle Code » California Driving Law - the Difference between Driving without a License and Driving without a License in Your Possession
Although this difference seems obvious, people often mistake the non-criminal infraction of driving without a license in one’s possession for the more serious misdemeanor offense of driving without a valid license.
California Vehicle Code 12951 penalizes driving without a license in your possession. As previously stated, this is a non-criminal infraction that prosecutors must dismiss if you later prove that you were validly licensed at the time of your offense.
California Vehicle Code 12500 VC driving without a valid license is typically charged as a misdemeanor. This offense is charged when…at the time you are caught driving…the California Department of Motor Vehicles — or the DMV from another state — hasn’t issued you a license.
As a misdemeanor, California Vehicle Code 12500 VC driving without a license subjects you to a six-month county jail sentence and a maximum $1,000 fine. However…if after you are charged with this offense…you take affirmative steps to secure a valid driver’s license, your VC 12500 misdemeanor will likely be reduced to a non-criminal infraction or dismissed altogether. (See our article, “What are the penalties for driving without a license in California?“)
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.
Infractions and misdemeanors are both offenses in the California criminal justice system. The main difference between the two is in their severity and in how they get punished. Infractions are less serious offenses than misdemeanors. They are punishable by a maximum fine of $250. Unlike misdemeanors, they do not subject an offender to incarceration. Common examples ...
At the moment, California courts haven’t yet made up their minds about the answer to this question. Proposition 47, passed by California voters in 2014, provided that theft of property worth less than nine hundred fifty dollars ($950) would be a California misdemeanor for most defendants. (Prior to Prop 47’s passage, all theft of motor ...
No. Per Assembly Bill 103, the state cannot suspend a person’s driver’s license for unpaid traffic tickets. Note, however, that the DMV can suspend a person’s license for failing to show up in court for a ticket. Vehicle Code 40509.5 VC is the California statute that allows the state to put a hold on a ...