What Happens When You Get Pulled Over Without a Driver’s License?


In the United States, you must have a legal driver’s license in all 50 states to operate a motor vehicle. If you fail to obtain a license and get caught without one when you are behind the wheel, your first offense will likely be a misdemeanor, which can carry heavy penalties. If you decide to not get a license and get caught a second time, the penalty becomes more harsh and can result in the receipt of a felony.

Fines Vary From State To State

The fines in each state will vary. If you are pulled over in Oklahoma, you’ll be charged $50. However, if you obtain a second offense in the state of Illinois, you’ll have to pay a penalty of $25,000.

You will also be facing a license suspension if you drive a vehicle without having obtained a valid driver’s license first. For the first offense, it can be as little as two months and as long as a year. If you commit a second offense, expect to wait as long as 1 to 2 years before you are eligible to obtain a legal license. In addition, you’ll probably have your vehicle impounded and license plate confiscated.

Jail Time

You really don’t want to drive without a legal driver’s license. In some states, you might spend time in jail for a second offense — as much as five years. First offenses also come with penalties such as community service and a permanent mark against you on your driving record.

In most cases, the penalties will likely be less severe if you have never obtained a license, but if you choose to drive with a revoked or suspended license and get pulled over, the penalties will probably be much stiffer.

Leaving Your License At Home

You are required to have your driver’s license on you when your operating a vehicle. However, this may not be the case if you forget your license at home. In this scenario, you’ll probably be given a ticket that includes a small fine.

This is different from driving with a license that has been revoked or suspended. The law recognizes that individuals may forget to have their license with them, but the law does not accept the decision to willingly perform an illegal act.

Suspended License

While operating your vehicle with a license that’s been suspended or revoked may seem like a good idea, it should not be done. The penalties for doing so are harsh.

In many cases, a license is revoked due to some other type of major driving offense such as reckless driving or receiving a DUI. If you decide to drive with a revoked or suspended license, you will just be adding fuel to the fire and increase the time that it will take before you can legally drive again. Not to mention, it can throw you into jail.