What happens if you drive without a license, drive alone with a permit, drive with a suspended license, get a DUI with a revoked license, etc.? All of these things are illegal, but they all have different definitions and various consequences. We look at each here.
Driving Without a License in Virginia
It’s illegal in all states to drive without having obtained a valid driver’s license, and the Commonwealth of Virginia is no exception.
In Virginia, you have to apply for a license, pass the test, and obtain a valid Virginia license before driving legally. The consequences of driving without a license are serious.
Exceptions to this rule apply if you are:
- driving tractors or certain other farm equipment on the road.
- in the military, driving an official military vehicle.
- active duty military (or the spouse or dependent of an active duty military person), and you have a valid, up-to-date license from your home state or country.
- temporarily visiting from another state or country, and you have a valid up-to-date license from there.
If you have recently moved to Virginia, you have 60 days by law to obtain a valid VA driver’s license. If you are pulled over after the 60th day of living in VA, then you may end up ticketed for driving without a license.
The penalty for driving without a license in Virginia the first time is a Class 2 Misdemeanor; you may end up with a fine up to $1,000 or a jail sentence of up to 6 months.
However, most judges do not impose the full penalty of the law for first-time violators. You will also end up with demerit points on your driving record.
The second time you are caught violating this law, it is considered a Class 1 Misdemeanor; you may end up with a fine up to $2,500 and jail time up to 12 months. You will also end up with demerit points on your driving record.
But what happens if you forget your license and get pulled over? You will be ticketed for $10 and will have to go to court to prove you had a valid license at the time. You may also be responsible for some court fees.
Some readers ask, “Can you go to jail for driving without a license?” While the answer is technically yes, it’s more likely that you will pay a fine unless you repeatedly violate the law within a short time frame.
For more information about driving without a license in Virginia, read the law §46.2-300.
Driving With a Suspended/Revoked License in Virginia
A “suspended” license means that your driving privileges have been suspended for a certain length of time. Once that time has passed, assuming your license has not expired, you may resume driving as usual.
Licenses are usually suspended for legal reasons (such as too many driving infractions in a certain amount of time).
A “revoked” license means that your driving privileges have been removed, and you are not eligible to drive until they have been reinstated. You must wait the required amount of time, meet the qualifications of a safe driver, re-apply for a license, and pass the driver’s test again.
Licenses can be revoked for legal or medical reasons.
Driving with a suspended or revoked license is a Class 1 Misdemeanor. If you are caught a second time, your vehicle could be impounded.
If you have a 3rd offense driving on a suspended license in Virginia or driving on revoked license within 10 years, you will serve at least 10 days in jail, but it could be up to a year.
However, getting a DUI on a suspended license is a whole other case; read the section later in this blog about DUIs and suspended licenses.
Driving With an Expired License in Virginia
Licenses expire after a certain number of years, so be sure to keep an eye on your expiration date and go to the DMV with all the necessary paperwork to renew your license well in advance of its expiration date.
What happens if I drive with an expired license? The penalty for an expired license while driving is the same as driving without a license:
- The first time you are caught violating this law, it is considered a Class 2 Misdemeanor; you may end up with a fine up to $1,000 or a jail sentence of up to 6 months.
- The second time you are caught violating this law, it is considered a Class 1 Misdemeanor; you may end up with a fine up to $2,500 and jail time up to 12 months.
Driving Alone With a Learner’s Permit in Virginia
Let’s answer some questions we frequently get asked about learner’s permits:
- What happens if you get pulled over with a permit over 18?
- What is the penalty for driving without a license under 18?
- Can you drive alone with a permit in VA?
Virginia learners permit restrictions to govern your ability to drive when you have a learner’s permit. We won’t go into all the laws here, but the main one is that you must have a licensed driver with you whenever you are driving with a permit.
Driving with a learner’s permit alone is illegal. It does not matter how old you are; you could be 16, 18, 35, or 60, and you would still need a licensed driver with you.
There is one exception to this law: if you are between the ages of 16.25 years and 18 years old, you are driving to or from school, you have had your permit for at least nine months, AND you have parental and driving school permission to drive alone. Only then can you drive alone with a permit.
Generally speaking, if you get pulled over with a learner’s permit, you should treat it like any other traffic stop: be cordial, keep your hands where the cop can see them, and provide your permit when they ask for your license.
It can be scary to be pulled over as a new driver, and you may get a ticket (if you were speeding, for instance). But there is no reason for it to escalate as long as you are following all other traffic and driving laws.
The penalty for “driving with permit alone” is a driving suspension for up to 6 months, and you may be subject to other penalties.
DUI Without a License in Virginia
If your license has been suspended or revoked due to a DUI, the charges will be added to your DUI charge, and the judge will hear both charges together.
The judge may or may not decide to treat them as separate offenses; in most cases, they get combined together for a combined sentence.
If you commit a DUI while your license is suspended for a prior DUI, you will likely end up with jail time.
Whenever a DUI is involved, you should hire a lawyer immediately. Cook Attorneys has traffic defense lawyers standing by to help you obtain the best outcome for your case.
Fighting Driving Charges in Virginia
While you could look up standard driving defenses, it is always smarter and safer to at least consult with a lawyer if you have been charged with any of the offenses above. Cook Attorneys can help you with avoiding things like jail time, suspended licenses, car impoundment, etc.
Contact Cook Attorneys today to set up a free consultation about your case.
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