There are some individuals in Virginia who choose to drive even if they do not have a valid VA driver's license. It is understandable that we are drawn to the convenience of having our own automobile as a means of transportation. Additionally, daily obligations may serve as further motivation to get behind the wheel, such as work, doctor's appointments, or friendly gatherings. However, if you are an unlicensed driver in the state of Virginia, and are caught driving without a license by the police, the penalties can far outweigh the convenience you initially thought about when you decided to put the keys into the ignition.
Description of the Law
If you are caught driving without a license in Virginia, the state can impose harsh fines or even jail time. Virginia Code section §46.2-300 states that it is illegal to operate a motor vehicle on any road or highway within the Commonwealth unless the vehicle operator has applied for a license, passed all relevant examinations, and has been issued a driver's license. Additionally, the license must be valid. Many drivers convicted of driving without a license aren't even aware they are committing a crime until they are pulled over for an unrelated offense, such as failing to signal a turn, or not wearing their seat belt.
Penalties for Driving Without a License in Virginia
Virginia maintains harsher penalties for operating a motor vehicle without a license than many other states. In Virginia, driving without a license is a serious criminal offense, and is classified as a Class 2 Misdemeanor for a first offense. A Class 2 Misdemeanor conviction carries with it harsh penalties, such as a suspension of a person's license up to 90 days (in cases where the license is invalid), jail time of up to six months, and/or a fine of up to $1,000.
Repeat offenses for the charge carry more severe penalties. A second or subsequent conviction of driving without a license is a Class 1 misdemeanor, which is punishable by up to 12 months in jail, a fine of up to $2,500.00, and/or suspension for up to ninety days.
Exceptions Under the Statute
In some cases, there are exceptions to the requirement that all drivers must maintain a Virginia driver's license in order to operate a motor vehicle on the roadways of the Commonwealth. Some of these exceptions are listed below:
- When operating a military vehicle as a member of the armed forces.
- When operating a vehicle classified as farm equipment, or “for farm use only”.
- New residents of Virginia who have yet to receive a valid Virginia driver's license.
- Residents of other states passing through the Commonwealth, who have an existing license in their state.
Benefits of an Experienced Traffic Defense Lawyer
If you or someone you know has been charged with operating a motor vehicle without a license in the Commonwealth of Virginia, consider hiring a good lawyer to appear in court for the case. It is advisable to have counsel review the facts of your case and prepare a strategy for defending it in court.
An experienced attorney may be able to get the charges dismissed or reduced to a non-criminal offense. Many jurisdictions in the state nolle prosequi (dismiss) this type of charge for compliance if the driver's license is re-instated before court. This helps clients avoid a permanent criminal conviction on their personal record for employment, security clearances, and immigration purposes.
Free Initial Attorney Consultation
If you are facing an upcoming case for No Valid Operator's License in Virginia, turn to the Law Office of Wilfred W. Yeargan for help. Attorney Yeargan has a history of vigorously defending clients charged with traffic offenses in the General District, Juvenile and Domestic Relations, and Circuit Courts. He has effectively represented clients countless times, getting charges dismissed or reduced. He works hard to deliver the best outcomes for his clients. His office charges reasonable, flat fee rates. If you are looking for a traffic defense lawyer in Fairfax, Alexandria, Arlington, Prince William or other Virginia counties, contact the office today by phone or online for a free initial consultation.