If you’ve been confused about the legal difference between driving without a license and driving without a license on person, it’s time to put the mixup to bed.
In this post, we’ll cover both concepts in depth.
Which Is the More Serious Offense?
Across all fifty states, it is illegal to drive without a license. However, there is a big difference between never getting your license and simply forgetting your license at home. There are consequences to both offenses, but the former is more serious.
If you are pulled over and have a license, but it is not on your person, the legal fallout is pretty minor. In most cases, you can avoid a conviction simply by visiting the court to provide proof of your license. When that happens, you’ll only owe a $10 dismissal fee.
When Are You Guilty of Driving Without a License?
Driving without a license is a serious charge. A driver who is caught behind the wheel in the following scenarios can face charges:
- The driver never applied for a license in the first place
- The license expired and was never renewed by the driver
- The license was legally canceled, revoked, or suspended
In Texas, the penalties for this offense increase with every charge.
What Happens If It’s My First Offense?
For your first offense, the penalty is pretty light. You can expect a fine of up to $200. However, if you continue to drive without a license, the consequences grow in severity.
If you are caught for the second time within a year, you may be charged with a misdemeanor. This could include a fine between $25 and $200. And if you are caught for the third time within a year, you could receive a $24 to $200 fine and/or a jail sentence between 72 hours and six months.
If you cause a car accident that results in a death or injury, the consequences become much more severe.
Driving without a license is a criminal offense. If you are convicted, you could be looking at a permanent spot on an otherwise clean record.
What Happens for Out-of-State Drivers Without a License?
If you are an out-of-state visitor, does Texas law still apply?
The answer is yes—Texas laws apply to any travelers on Texas roads. You can expect a ticket if you get pulled over and don’t have your license on you.
If you are caught driving without a valid license entirely, you could face the same legal consequences mentioned earlier. Steep fines, jail time, and a criminal record are simply not worth the risk.
As a side note, if you are new to the state, you also have a legal obligation to transfer to a Texas driver’s license within 90 days. If you fail to do so, you could be faced with a $200 fine.
The best way to avoid fines and consequences is to ensure that your license is on your person any time you drive a vehicle. If your license has been suspended or revoked, do not attempt to drive.
While it can be tempting to drive without a license, the consequences simply aren’t worth it. If you are faced with charges for driving without a license, reach out to a skilled attorney right away.