Is It Illegal to Drive Without Your License on You?

You can’t drive a car on public roads in the United States without a driver’s license. But what if you are already driving out there and realize you forgot to bring your license? Is it illegal to drive without your license on you?

Driving without a license in all jurisdictions in the United States is illegal. For instance, it is a misdemeanor in Georgia to drive without your license on you. The mandatory fine for this violation is $500. Failure to present your driver’s license in California violates the state’s Vehicle Code Section 12951.

The consequences of being caught without a license on you will be, at the very least, unpleasant. You can be fined, it will be reflected on your driving record, your insurance premiums can go up, and they can disqualify you from driving in certain situations.

Read on to learn more about the legality of driving in the United States with a driver’s license in your person and the consequences if you are caught.

Is It Illegal to Drive Without Your License on You?

is it illegal to drive without your license on you


You are violating state laws in the United States if you drive your vehicle without your driver’s license in your person. It is a misdemeanor in Georgia. If you are convicted, you will face the penalty of a misdemeanor. The minimum fine for this violation is $500.


In California, if you are caught driving your car without your license, the officers will charge you with violating the state’s Vehicle Code Section 12951 for failure to present a driver’s license. This state not only requires you to have a valid driver’s license.

You should always have it when driving a motorized vehicle on public roads. If stopped in traffic, you should also present it to the traffic officer if they ask.

If a cop stops you in traffic and asks for your driver’s license but can’t produce it, you won’t like the consequences because they are stressful. Firstly, they can charge you for violating their law against driving without a license.


They can also disqualify you from driving in certain conditions. There is also a great chance that your insurance company may increase your premiums. They may even throw you in jail for up to 60 days, just like in Florida, where they consider this violation a 2nd-degree misdemeanor.

If you are convicted of a “No Valid License” offense in Florida, it will go to your permanent criminal record. So, suppose you are brought to court with this misdemeanor. In that case, getting help from a lawyer specializing in motorized vehicle offenses is essential to avoid more severe penalties.

In every state in the country, driving without a license is illegal. However, each state has a different way of implementing its laws against this traffic violation.

While the cop won’t arrest you for not carrying your driver’s license, they will charge you with a serious offense if you have a suspended or invalid license.

What Is the Fine for Driving Without a Licence in the US?

The cop will issue you a traffic summons for driving without a license. You can also expect to pay a hefty fine. The fine could run between $500 and $1,000 or more in some US jurisdictions.

They can also disqualify you from driving your vehicle in certain situations. In addition, your insurer may also increase your insurance premiums.

When charged with this traffic violation, you need to get the help of a lawyer who specializes in traffic offenses to represent you in court – if you want to mitigate the penalties.

You should not take this traffic offense lightly. Perhaps you can better instill this advice into your mind by considering the examples of state laws against driving without a license. These are the charges that the issue of the following state for this type of infraction:

New York

  • A misdemeanor charge for “Aggravated Unlicensed Operation” (second or third degree) – for DUI-connected suspensions or multiple suspensions
  • A fine of $40 to $300 for an expired license
  • Possible felony charge – with a possible jail sentence


  • Two months suspension of driver’s license for the first three offenses of driving without a valid license
  • Possible jail sentence for a maximum of one year for driving with a suspended driver’s license


  • Jail sentence if the judge finds that you are a habitual traffic violator.


  • If a DUI charge accompanies your violation, you must appear in court or have a lawyer represent you.
  • They may impound your vehicle for 30 days.
  • Forgetting to carry your driver’s license while driving is considered an infraction.

Again, is it illegal to drive without your license on you? If the police caught you driving without a license, you’d get a violation ticket. Plus, you can’t continue driving.

What Will Happen If You Drive Without a License?

is it illegal to drive without your license on you

While many variations exist in how states enact these driving regulations, they usually have the same penalties for the violations. Here are the most common penalties for people who drive without their driver’s licenses on their persons.

Willful Violation

If you are guilty of willfully violating the law against driving without a license, the cop will charge you with willful violation of the law. You may be apprehended, cited, and accused of a misdemeanor infraction.

Driving on a revoked or suspended license is a willful violation of this law. Your driver’s license can be suspended or revoked if caught and charged with DUI (driving under the influence) several times.

Correctable Offense

You will be charged with a correctable offense if you forget to carry your license and only realize it while driving. The traffic cop who stopped you may issue a “Fix-it-Ticket.”

If the cop issues you this ticket, you must appear in court to prove that you have already fixed your violation. Once the court proves that you did fix your issue, it will dismiss the citation.

However, if you fail to present the evidence that you have fixed your infraction, they will charge you other penalties and additional fines.

What Laws Prohibit People From Driving Without License?

Two different laws are involved that regulate driving motorized vehicles in the United States. One of these laws requires you to get a driver’s license before you can drive; the other is to always have this driver’s license on your person whenever you drive in public.

Driver’s License Required

This US law states, “No person shall drive a motor vehicle unless he or she holds a valid permit license.” There are several things a person is required to perform before they can be issued a valid driver’s license.

The first thing the person needs to do is to pass a written and actual driving test given by the authorizing arm of the government. In the US, it is the DMV or Department of Motor Vehicles. To ensure passing, the novice should take driving lessons from a reputable driving school.

If caught driving without a valid driver’s license, the traffic cop will charge you with Class A or B misdemeanor.

Whenever You Drive, You Should Have Your Driver’s License

This law states, “Every licensee or permittee shall have his or her driver’s license or permit in his person every time he or she operates a motorized vehicle.” It also requires the person to “display their license or permit when a police officer demands it if they are caught violating a traffic regulation.

The law considers this a petty offense. It says the law cannot convict you of this violation if they produce evidence in court, like a valid license, during their arrest.

In other words, even if a cop slapped you with a ticket, they still can’t convict you of the crime. That is, if you can prove you have a valid driver’s license when the cop gives you a ticket.

Why Do People Drive Without a License?

is it illegal to drive without drivers license on you

Hopefully, there will not come a time when you forget to carry your driver’s license when going out for a drive.

Here are some reasons why people drive without licenses before they sit behind the wheel:

  1. Their driver’s license has expired
  2. The state suspended their license
  3. They did not apply for a driver’s license
  4. The state revoked their license

If you continue to drive your vehicle after the state has suspended, revoked, or expired, they can charge you with a serious offense, and the legal consequences can be severe.

And if you fail to secure a driver’s license and drive a motor vehicle on any US public road, a traffic cop will charge you with a willful violation of the law.

Do Traffic Tickets Go on Your Driver’s Record?

A ticket can mar your driver’s record, given that a cop caught you and proven guilty. Remember that a typical traffic ticket remains on your driver’s record for around three years. This can impact your ability to drive and can increase your insurance rates.

This might also invalidate your PIP insurance coverage. It can also give an insurance company a reason to dispute your claims.

Even if the cop did not ask you to appear in court because of your violation, the degree of your infraction is a factor during your negotiations with your insurance company.

In Closing

Driving without a license is illegal in all jurisdictions in the United States. It is illegal in Georgia to drive your vehicle even if you have a driver’s license if it is not in your person.

You can be cited for a misdemeanor and fined $500. In California, you will be violating its Vehicle Code Section 12951 and can also be fined.

You should always bring your license each time you drive your car. Why? You will suffer unpleasant consequences if caught driving without a driver’s license in your person. It’s not just a hefty fine; your violation will also go on your driver’s record.

Your insurance premiums will likely increase and prevent you from driving in certain situations.