Driving Without a License: Consequences Per State

No matter what state you live in, driving without a valid driver's license is a serious offense that can lead to fines, jail time and higher car insurance rates. It’s no wonder why driving without a license can have severe consequences: According to the NHTSA, 17% to 19% of car fatalities involve drivers with invalid licenses. Keep reading to learn about the penalties for driving without a license and how they vary by state.

Is It Illegal To Drive Without a License?

Specific rules and regulations may vary by state, but driving without a license can have severe consequences in all states.

What Are the Penalties for Driving Without a License?

Correctable Offenses

If your driver’s license is valid and active but you left it at home, that would be a correctable offense, also known as a fix-it ticket. By law, all drivers must have a driver’s license. Getting pulled over without a license can result in severe consequences, depending on your situation.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 17% to 19% of car fatalities involve drivers with invalid licenses.

Willful Violations

If your driver’s license has been suspended or revoked but you are caught driving anyway, that is a willful violation. Willful violations are when the driver knowingly disregards the law and can result in jail time, a ticket or a fine.

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Driving Without a License: Penalties by State

Driving without a license is considered a crime in every state. However, the consequences of this violation depend on the state you live in as well as if the infraction is a willful violation or a correctable offense.

State

Citation

Penalties

Alabama

§32-6-19

Misdemeanor: $100-$500 fine; Additional fine: $50. 

Prison sentence up to 180 days; immediate vehicle impoundment; possible 6-month license suspension increase.

Alaska

§28.15.291

  • (First Offense) Class A Misdemeanor: Ten-day suspended prison sentence, provided the person completes at least 80 hours of community service. Potential vehicle forfeiture. Up to 90-day license suspension increase.
  • (Subsequent Offense) Class A Misdemeanor: Ten-day prison sentence. Possible vehicle forfeiture. Ninety-day license suspension increase.

Arkansas

§27-16-303

Misdemeanor: Prison sentence: two to six months. Up to $500 possible fine.

Arizona

§28-3473

§28-3511

§13-707

Class 1 Misdemeanor: Prison sentence of six months. Potential vehicle impoundment.

California

Veh. Code

§14601 &

§14602.6

  • (First Offense): Prison sentence: between five days and six months. $300-$1000 fine.
  • (Subsequent Offense): a 10-day to a one-year prison sentence. $500-$2000 fine.

Colorado

§42-2-138

  • (First Offense) Misdemeanor: Prison sentence: up to six months. Up to $500 fine. One-year license suspension increase.
  • (Subsequent Offense): Driver ineligible for a driver's license for three years.

Connecticut

 

§§14-215, 14-227h

  • (First Offense): Prison sentence: up to three months. $150 to $200 fine or both.
  • (Subsequent Offense): Prison sentence: up to one year, a $200-$600 fine or both.

District of Columbia

ND.C. Code Ann.

§ 50-1403.01

Prison sentence: up to one year, up to a $2,500 fine, or both.

Delaware

 

21 Del. C. §2756

  • (First Offense) Prison sentence: between 30 days and six months; a $500-$1,000 fine; possible 90-day vehicle impoundment or more.
  • (Subsequent Offense) Prison sentence: between 60 days and one year; a $1,000-$4,000 fine; possible one-year vehicle impoundment.

Florida

§ 322.34

§ 775.082

§ 775.083

  • (First Offense)2nd Degree Misdemeanor: Prison sentence: up to 60 days or $500 fine. 
  • (Second Offense)1st Degree Misdemeanor: Up to a one-year prison sentence or $1,000 fine. 
  • (Subsequent Offense) 3rd Degree Felony: Up to a five-year prison sentence or $5,000 fine. Offenders must be imprisoned for a 10-day minimum sentence. Immediate vehicle impoundment.

Georgia

§40-5-121

  • (First Offense) Misdemeanor: Prison sentence: Possible two days to one year, and a possible additional fine up to $500. 
  • (Second or Third Offenses) High and Aggravated Misdemeanor: Prison sentence: between 10 days and one year; possible $1,000-$2,500 additional fine. 
  • (Fourth or Subsequent Offenses) Felony: One to five-year prison sentence; possible $2,500-$5,000 fine. Six-month license suspension increase. Reinstatement fees: (First Offense): $210 or $200 (by mail). (Second Offense) $310 or $300 (by mail). (Subsequent Offenses) $410 or $400 (by mail).

Hawaii

§291E-62

  • *This statute applies to drivers who had their license revoked, suspended, or canceled because of a Driving Under the Influence (DUI) charge.
  • (First Offense): Three to 30-day prison sentence; $250-$1,000 fine; one-year license suspension; additional, inapplicable penalties.
  • (Second Offense): Up to 30-day prison sentence; $1,000 fine; two-year license suspension increase; additional, inapplicable penalties.
  • (Subsequent Offense): One-year prison sentence; $2,000 fine; permanent license revocation; Additional, inapplicable penalties.

Idaho

§18-8001

 

  • (First Offense) Misdemeanor: Prison sentence: two days to six months; up to a $1,000 fine; license suspension increase of 180 days.
  • (Second Offense) Prison sentence: Twenty days to one year; fine of no more than $1,000; one-year license suspension increase.
  • (Subsequent Offense): Between 30-day and one-year prison sentence; up to $3,000 fine; two-year license suspension increase.

Illinois

        625 ILCS

5/6-303

730 ILCS 5/5-4.5-55

730 ILCS 5/5-4.5-45

  • (First Offense) Class A Misdemeanor: Up to one-year prison sentence; up to a $2,500 fine.
  • (Subsequent Offense) Class 4 Felony: One to three-year prison sentence; up to $25,000 fine.

Possible vehicle impoundment.

  • (Fourth or Subsequent Offenses): Possible license plate seizure and vehicle immobilization.

Indiana

Ind. Code Ann.

§ 9-30-10-16

§ 35-50-2-7

Class 6 Felony: Prison sentence: between six months and two years. Up to a $10,000 fine.

Iowa

§321.218

Simple Misdemeanor: $250-$1,500 fine; license suspension increased for an additional like period or one year, whichever is shorter.

Kansas

§8-262

  • (First Offense)ClassB Nonperson Misdemeanor: prison sentence: five days or higher; $100 fine or higher. 
  • (Subsequent Offense) Class A Nonperson Misdemeanor: Prison sentence without eligibility for parole until five days completed; $100 fine or more. Ninety-day license suspension increase.

Kentucky

§ 186.620

§189A.090

§532.020

  • (First Offense) Class B Misdemeanor Prison sentence: 90 days or higher. Six-month license suspension increase.
  • (Second Offense) Class A Misdemeanor: Ninety-day to one-year prison sentence; one-year license suspension increase.
  • (Third or Subsequent Offense) Class D Felony: One to five-year prison sentence; additional two-year license suspension/revocation.

Louisiana

§32:415

  • Person with a Class D or E driver's license: Up to six-month prison sentence, up to $500 fine or both.
  • Person with a Class A, B or C driver's license: Up to six-month prison sentence, up to $5,000 fine or both.
  • (Subsequent Offense): Between seven-day and six-month prison sentence; between $300-$500 fine, up to $1,150 potential civil fine.
  • (Subsequent Offense) Class A, B or C driver's license: Between seven-day and six-month prison sentence; $300-$500 fine; up to $2,500 potential civil fine.
  • One-year license suspension increase.

Maine

Title 29-A

§2412-A

  • Class E Crime (First Offense): $250.
  • (Second Offense): $500. Possible one-year license suspension.

Maryland

§16-303

§16-402

§ 27-101

§ 27-111

  • (First Offense) Misdemeanor: Up to a one-year prison sentence, up to a $1,000 fine or both. Possible one-year license suspension increase. 
  • (Subsequent Offense) Misdemeanor: Up to two-year prison sentence, up to a $1,000 fine or both; up to 18-month possible increase of license suspension, if it is a second offense, up to two years for subsequent offenses. Possible vehicle impoundment.

Massachusetts

Ch. 90; §23

  • (First Offense): Up to ten-day prison sentence, $500-$1,000 fine or both
  • (Subsequent Offense): Between 60-day and one-year prison sentence.
  • Sixty-day license suspension increase.

Michigan

 

§257.904

  • (First Offense) Misdemeanor: Up to 93-day prison sentence, up to a $500 fine or both.
  • (Second Offense) Misdemeanor: Up to a one-year prison sentence, up to a $1,000 fine or both.
  • Vehicle registration plate cancellation.
  • License suspension increased by like period.

Minnesota

§171.24

§609.02

Misdemeanor: Up to 90-day prison sentence, up to $1,000 fine or both.

Mississippi

§63-11-40

Misdemeanor: Between 48-hour and six-month prison sentence; $200-$500 fine; six-month license suspension increase.

Missouri

§302.321

  • (First Offense) Class D Misdemeanor: No set prison sentence term; not to exceed one year.
  • (Second Offense) Class A Misdemeanor: Between six-month and one-year prison sentence.
  • (Subsequent Offense) Class E Felony: Up to four-year prison sentence.

Montana

§61-5-212

§61-5-102

  • (First Offense): Up to $500 fine.
  • (Second Offense): Between two-day and six-month prison sentence, up to $500 fine and up to one-year license suspension increase.

Nebraska

§60-4,108

  • (First Offense) Class II Misdemeanor: Unable to operate any motor vehicle for one year; license revocation for like period.
  • (Second or Third Offense) Class II Misdemeanor: Unable to operate any motor vehicle for two years; license revocation for a like period.
  • (Fourth or Subsequent Offense) Class I Misdemeanor: Unable to operate any motor vehicle fortwo years; license revocation for a like period.

New Jersey

N.J.S.A.

39:3-40

  • (First Offense): $500 fine.
  • (Second Offense): Between one to five-day prison sentence; $750 fine.
  • (Subsequent Offense): Up to 10-day prison sentence; $1,000 fine.
  • Up to six-month license suspension.

New Mexico

§66-5-39

Misdemeanor: Four to 364-day prison sentence; up to $1,000 possible fine. Possible vehicle immobilization.

New York

V&T 511

  • (First Offense) Misdemeanor: Up to 30-day prison sentence, $200-$500 fine or both.
  • (Subsequent Offense) Misdemeanor: Up to 180-day prison sentence; at least a $500 fine.

Nevada

§483.560

§193.150

  • Misdemeanor: Up to six-month prison sentence, up to $1,000 fine or both.
  • If license (suspended), an extension of suspension by like period.
  • If license (revoked), one-year extension of license ineligibility.
  • If license (restricted), revocation of a restricted license and one-year extension of license ineligibility period, permit or privilege to drive.
  • Terms run consecutively.

North Carolina

§20-28

N.C.G.S.A.

§15A-1340.23

  • (First Offense) Class 3 Misdemeanor: One to 10-day prison sentence; up to $200 fine; one-year license suspension increase.
  • (Second Offense): Two-year license suspension.
  • (Third Offense): Permanent license suspension.

Ohio

§4507.02

  • (First Offense) Unclassified Misdemeanor: Up to $1,000 fine; 500 hours of community service.
  • (Subsequent Offense)1st Degree Misdemeanor: Up to 180-day prison sentence; $1,000 fine.
  • Possible license plate impoundment.

Oklahoma

Title 47: §6-303

  • Misdemeanor: Prison sentence up to 30 days, $50-$300 fine or both.
  • (First Offense): $100-$500 fine.
  • (Second Offense): $200-$750 fine.
  • (Subsequent Offense): Up to one-year prison sentence, $300-$1,000 fine or both.

Oregon

Or. Rev. Stat. Ann.

§ 811.175

  • Class A Traffic Infraction: $220-$2,000 fine.
  • Possible vehicle impoundment.

Pennsylvania

75 Pa. CSA

§1543

  • First Violation: Summary Offense; $200 fine; one-year license suspension increase if already suspended, two years if it was already revoked.
  • Second Violation: Summary offense; $1,000 fine; 90-day prison sentence.
  • Subsequent Violation:3rd Degree Misdemeanor; $2,500 fine; 6-month prison sentence (or higher).

Rhode Island

§31-11-18

HB 7679 (2016)

  • (First Offense) Violation: $250-$500 fine.
  • (Second Offense): $350-$500 fine
  • (Subsequent Offense) Misdemeanor: 90-day prison sentence, $500-$1,000 fine or both. Up to 90-day license suspension.

South Carolina

§56-1-460

  • (First Offense): Up to 30-day prison sentence, $300 fine or both.
  • (Second Offense): Up to 60-day prison sentence, $600 fine or both.
  • (Subsequent Offense): Up to 90-day prison sentence; $1,000 fine.

South Dakota

§32-12-65

  • (Revoked) Class 1 Misdemeanor: Up to one-year prison sentence; up to $2,000 fine.
  • (Suspended or Canceled) Class 2 Misdemeanor: Up to 30-day prison sentence; up to $500 fine.

Tennessee

§55-12-131

§55-50-504

  • (Non-Resident) Class B Misdemeanor: Up to six-month prison sentence, up to $500 or both.
  • (Resident) (First Offense) Class B Misdemeanor: Up to six-month prison sentence, up to $500 fine or both. License suspension increased by a like period.
  • (Resident) (Subsequent Offense)Class A Misdemeanor: Up to 364-day prison sentence, $2,500 fine or both. License suspension increased by a like period.

Texas

Tex. Transp.

Code Ann.

§ 521.457;

Tex. Penal Code

Ann. § 12.23; §12.22

  • (First Offense) Class C Misdemeanor: Up to $500 fine.
  • (Subsequent Offense) Class B Misdemeanor: 180-day prison sentence, up to $2,000 fine or both.

Utah

§53-3-227

§76-3-301

Class B Misdemeanor: Up to six-month prison sentence; $1,000 fine.

Vermont

§674

  • (First Offense): Up to a three-year prison sentence, up to $5,000 fine or both.
  • (Sixth or Subsequent Offense): Up to two-year prison sentence, $5,000 fine or both.
  • Possible seizure of license plates.

Virginia

§46.2-301.1

§18.2-11

Class 1 Misdemeanor: Up to 12-month prison sentence, up to $2,500 fine or both. Ninety-day vehicle impoundment.

Washington

§46.20.345

Gross Misdemeanor: Up to 364-day imprisonment, up to $5,000 fine or both.

West Virginia

W. Va. Code

Ann. § 17B-4-3

  • (First Offense) Misdemeanor: $100-$500 fine.
  • (Second Offense) Misdemeanor: $100-$500 fine.
  • (Third or Subsequent Offense) Misdemeanor: 30-90 day prison sentence; $150-$500 fine.

Wisconsin

§343.44

  • (Suspended): $50-$200 fine.
  • (Revoked): Up to $2,500 fine.
  • The vehicle may be impounded.

Wyoming

§31-7-134

§31-4-104

Misdemeanor: Up to $750 fine.

Driving without a license is considered a crime in every state.

What Are the Consequences of Driving Without a License?

Fines

Drivers may face steep fines if they’re caught driving without a license. They will likely have to pay higher insurance rates, vehicle impoundment costs, court costs, attorney fees and much more. Driving without a license could result in fines that range from $500 to $10,000 for first-time offenders. Repeat offenses result in higher fees.

Mark on your driving record

If you’re caught driving without a license, you may face jail time. If you are a first time offender, it may be viewed as an unfortunate mistake. Repeated offenses could result in misdemeanor or felony charges.

Impounded car

No matter where you live, your state’s authorities have the right to impound your car. To get your car back you will have to pay a lot of fines, which could result in severe financial hardship. In some states, you could lose your car permanently.

Registration do-over

Let’s say you are able to get your car back from the impound lot, your battle isn’t over. You may also have to restore your car registration, which means you will need to re-register your car and pay another registration fee.

Driving without a license could result in fines that range from $500 to $10,000 for first-time offenders. Repeat offenses result in higher fees.

Extended suspension of license

Driving without a license will result in license suspension. If you are a serial offender then your suspension will be extended. Depending on your state, you may even lose your license altogether.

Revoked car registration

Since driving without a license is considered a serious offense, your driving license can be revoked based on your driving history and record (and if you are a repeat offender).

Higher insurance rates

A consequence you can almost always expect is higher insurance rates. Risky drivers always pay more in car insurance.

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What Are the Common Reasons Someone Drives Without a License?

Every state has its own rules and regulations surrounding license suspensions. Reasons why someone would drive without a license could include:

  • Too many points on their license
  • Attempting to elude an officer
  • Failure to appear in court
  • You were responsible for an accident and named in a civil suit
  • Failure to pay traffic tickets
  • Failure to pay child support
  • Vehicular manslaughter
  • Vehicular battery
  • Failure to stop and render aid

Driving without a license is a serious offense that could result in jail time.

Why Can a License Be Suspended or Revoked?

  • Serious driving offenses: Your license may be suspended or revoked due to serious driving-related offenses like racing, driving recklessly, driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, hit-and-run and more.
  • Repeat traffic violations: Many states have traffic violation point systems. Any time you have a traffic violation, the DMV will attach a number of points to your driving record. If you accumulate too many points you could get your license suspended.
  • Non-driving violations: In certain states, non-driving violations like unlawful possession of alcohol by a minor or failure to pay child support can impact your driver’s license.
  • Driving without active or valid insurance policy: Legally, all drivers must have a valid insurance policy when driving.

License suspensions are usually temporary, and most drivers get their previous licenses returned. After a license revocation period ends, a driver must apply for a new driver's license, present all required documents and pass the written knowledge and road tests.

FAQs

What happens if you’re caught driving without a license under 18 years old?

If you are a minor caught driving without a license, you could get arrested and charged with a fine. You may also receive a misdemeanor on your record and be unable to apply for a license for several years.

Can you go to jail for driving without a license?

Driving without a license is a serious offense that could result in jail time and hefty fines.

How would the police know if I’m driving without a license?

Law enforcement can simply run your plates to see if you have any active warrants or a suspended or revoked license.

Key Takeaways

  • It is illegal in all 50 states to drive with a suspended or revoked license.
  • Each state has their own penalties and fees for driving with a suspended or revoked license.
  • Driving without a license could result in fines ranging from $500 to $10,000 for first-time offenders.

Buying Affordable Insurance

Unlicensed drivers or those with suspended or revoked licenses can still purchase car insurance and may be required to do so by their lender or by the state. However, they still cannot legally drive.

Whether you're a high-risk driver, need an SR-22 or have a spotless record, you can only find the lowest rates for car insurance by comparison shopping. SmartFinancial can do the work for you by offering free car insurance quotes from local insurers offering superior coverage at the lowest rates. Enter your zip code below and answer a few questions to get started.

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