"Driving without a License" in Nevada Law (NRS 483.230)
Explained by Las Vegas Criminal Defense Attorneys


Nevada law requires people to have a current and valid driver's license while they operate a motor vehicle. Driving without a license is a misdemeanor in Nevada carrying possible maximum penalties of:

  • $1,000 in fines, and/or
  • 6 months in jail

But it may be possible to plea bargain the charge down to a lesser offense. Or the prosecutor may dismiss the case if the if the defendant obtains a valid license and shows proof to the court.

People convicted of driving with no license may be eligible for a criminal record seal 1 year after the case ends. And if the charges get dropped completely, a seal may be available immediately.


In this article, our Las Vegas DUI defense attorneys discuss:

driver's license
Driving without a current and valid license is a misdemeanor in Nevada.

1. Can I drive without a license in Las Vegas, Nevada?

No. Nevada state law says that "a person shall not drive any motor vehicle upon a highway in this State unless such person has a valid license as a driver[.]" Out-of-state or foreign drivers in Nevada are required to carry a valid license from their home state or country. 

Drivers must carry their license with them whenever they are driving. Licensed drivers who forget to bring their license with them will still get cited for violating NRS 483.230. Though prosecutors usually drop the charge if the driver later shows proof of being licensed at the time.1

Note that taxi drivers do not need special driver's licenses from the Nevada DMV to drive a cab...but they do need a driver's permit from the Nevada Transportation Authority. And ride-sharing drivers for such companies as Uber and Lyft need a Nevada business license.2 Learn more in our article on driving cabs without a permit in Nevada.

2. Can I go to jail for driving without a license in Nevada?

gavel

It is rare. Driving with no license is a misdemeanor in Nevada, carrying:

  • a fine of up to $1,000, and/or
  • up to six months in jail3

But judges typically impose no jail, just a fine. Depending on the case, Nevada judges may also suspend future driving privileges as part of the sentence.

Note that anyone who moves to Nevada must obtain a Nevada driver's license within thirty (30) days or risk misdemeanor penalties of:

  • up to $1,000 in fines, and/or
  • up to six (6) months in jail4

3. How do I fight charges of driving without a license?

Many defendants are in fact licensed but did not have the license handy when the traffic officer asked to see it. In these cases, the prosecutor will usually dismiss the NRS 483.230 charge if the defendant can show proof that he/she was licensed at the time.

If the driver was not licensed at the time of the citation, prosecutors will usually dismiss the case in exchange for a fine as long as the defendant obtains a license promptly.

Note that having a recently expired license is not a defense to charges of driving without a license.

4. Am I eligible for a Nevada driver's license?

Barring extenuating circumstances, Nevada residents 16 and older are eligible for some class of driver's license upon passing the Nevada DMV driver's test:5

Age of Nevada resident

Type of Nevada license the resident may be eligible for

18-year-olds and older

Non-commercial license

16- and 17-year olds

Restricted license for teens

15-and-a-half-year olds

Learner's permit

5. Can illegal aliens get driver's licenses?

Contrary to popular belief, undocumented immigrants may not be granted Nevada driver's licenses. So foreigners who come to Las Vegas are in a catch-22 situation: They need to drive in order to commute to work, but they risk being removed from the country if a cop ever pulls them over and discovers they are undocumented.

Read more about driving rules for illegal aliens in Nevada.

6. What if I live out-of-state?

Out-of-state defendants facing Nevada misdemeanor charges usually do not have to come back to Nevada for court appearances as long as they hire a local attorney to appear in court on their behalf.

Out-of-state defendants just have to be sure not to ignore the charge. Otherwise, the judge will issue a bench warrant for their arrest after the first missed court appearance or fine payment deadline.

7. How do I get a Nevada driver's license?

Nevada residents usually have to go to the DMV in person to apply for a license. Applicants may be able to make appointments ahead of time using Dash Pass. Currently, the DMV has locations at:

Carson City
555 Wright Way
Carson City, NV 89711
8a-5p M-F | Get Map
(775) 684-4368

Elko
3920 E. Idaho Street
Elko, NV 89801
8a-5p M-F | Get Map
(877) 368-7828

Ely
178 Avenue F
Ely, NV 89301
8a-5p M-F | Get Map
(877) 368-7828

Fallon
973 W. Williams Ave.
Fallon, NV 89406
8a-5p M-F | Get Map
(877) 368-7828

Hawthorne
1085 Highway 95, Suite B
Hawthorne, NV 89415
8a-5p M-F | Get Map
(877) 368-7828

Henderson
1399 American Pacific Dr.
Henderson, NV 89074
8a-5p M-F, 8a-4p Sat. | Get Map
(702) 486-4368

Las Vegas - Decatur
7170 N. Decatur Blvd.
Las Vegas, NV 89131
8a-5p M-F, 8a-4p Sat. | Get Map
(702) 486-4368

Las Vegas - East Sahara
2621 E. Sahara Ave.
Las Vegas, NV 89104
8a-5p M-F, 8a-4p Sat. | Get Map
(702) 486-4368

Las Vegas - West Flamingo
8250 W. Flamingo Rd.
Las Vegas, NV 89147
8a-5p M-F, 8a-4p Sat. | Get Map
(702) 486-4368

Laughlin
3030 S. Needles Hwy., Suite 100
Laughlin, NV 89029
8a-5p M-F | Get Map
(702) 486-4368

Mesquite
550 W. Pioneer Blvd., Suite 120
Mesquite, NV 89027
8a-5p M-F | Get Map
(877) 368-7828

Pahrump
1780 E. Basin Ave., Suite 1
Pahrump, NV 89060
8a-5p M-F | Get Map
(877) 368-7828

Reno
305 Galletti Way
Reno, NV 89512
8a-5p M-F, 8a-4p Sat. | Get Map
(775) 684-4368

Tonopah
1137 N. Main St., Suite C-8 
Tonopah, NV 89049
8a-5p M-F | Get Map
(877) 368-7828

Winnemucca
3505 Construction Way
Winnemucca, NV 89445
8a-5p M-F | Get Map
(877) 368-7828

Yerington
215 W. Bridge St., Suite 9
Yerington, NV 89447
8a-5p M-F | Get Map
(877) 368-7828

Driver's license applicants must be prepared to present the following documentation to the Nevada DMV:

  • the person's previous driver's license or state-issued ID,
  • proof of the person's social security number, and
  • two proofs of the person's address (such as utility bills)

Driver's licenses are typically valid for eight (8) years and cost $42.25. Senior citizens aged 65 and older may get licenses good for four (4) years and that cost $18.25.

Refer to the Nevada DMV Driver's License website for more instructions.

8. What if my license was suspended?

Driving with a suspended or revoked license in Nevada is an entirely different misdemeanor offense than driving with no license at all. The penalties depend on the reason for the suspension:

Reason for the suspension or revocation

Nevada penalties for driving on a suspended or revoked license

DUI charges

Non-DUI charges

  • maximum $1,000 fine and/or
  • maximum of 6 months in jail (judges rarely impose jail), and
  • a doubling of the original license suspension period

For more information, see our article on the Nevada crime of driving on a suspended or revoked license in Nevada.6

9. When can I seal my case?

A Nevada conviction for driving with no license may be sealed one (1) year after the case closes in Nevada.7 But there is no waiting period to get a seal if the charge gets dismissed.8

Even though violating NRS 483.230 is a minor offense, it may still look bad to potential employers when they run a background check. Anybody with a criminal record is encouraged to pursue a seal as soon as possible.

10. Can I be deported for driving with no license?

Driving with no license is not a deportable offense. Still, immigrants are always in a precarious situation when facing criminal charges. And undocumented aliens are vulnerable to removal whether or not they commit a crime...

Non-citizen defendants should seek legal counsel to discuss how to try to ensure that they may stay in the U.S. Learn more about the criminal defense of immigrants in Nevada.

Call a Nevada criminal defense attorney...

If you have been charged with driving with no license in Nevada, call our Las Vegas criminal defense attorneys at 702-DEFENSE (702-333-3673) for a free consultation.

See our article about medically-restricted licenses in Nevada.

Arrested in California? Refer to our article on California "driving without a license" law.

Arrested in Colorado? Refer to our article on Colorado "driving without a license" law.


Legal Resources

  1. NRS 483.230.
  2. NRS 706.756; Senate Bill 554 (2017).
  3. NRS 483.620.
  4. NRS 483.2521; NRS 483.2523.
  5. NRS 483.245.
  6. NRS 483.560.
  7. NRS 179.245.
  8. NRS 179.255.

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