California motorists could face significant penalties if they drive without a license. An infraction may result from driving on a suspended license or merely forgetting to bring a current license on a quick trip to the store. While it may be possible for a driver to later prove that he or she has a valid license, it could still result in a fine of $250. In some cases, a driver can be charged with an infraction for driving on an expired license. Individuals who drive on a suspended or revoked license could face larger fines.
In addition to a fine of up to $1,000, a driver could be sent to jail for up to half a year for driving on a canceled, suspended or revoked license. Furthermore, the state could impound that driver's vehicle or sell it at an auction.
Drivers who have a valid license from another state will need to exchange it for a California license as soon as possible. Failure to do so may result in being charged with either an infraction or a misdemeanor. However, the offender could get a less serious offense if they obtain a California license within 20 days. Individuals who drive without obtaining a license of any kind can also face a misdemeanor charge, but first-time offenders may be given a lighter sentence.
Someone who has been charged with driving without a license may want to speak with a lawyer. In some cases, an attorney can get a charge reduced or dismissed entirely. This may result in a defendant resolving a matter without receiving jail time, a fine or a suspended license. Plea deals may be available based on the severity of the offense and the quality of the evidence used to charge a driver.