Life is what happens when you’re making other plans. You’re driving along, thinking everything is fine. An officer pulls you over because you were going a little too fast. You reach for your license and realize you don’t have it. Maybe you left it at home by accident. Perhaps you moved a little while ago and still haven’t had the chance to update your ID. Whatever the reason, you’re in violation of the law. What happens now?
Driver’s Licenses in Virginia
Quite simply, you need a license to legally drive a car in Virginia. That’s the rule, but there are some exceptions. If you’re new to Virginia, you have 60 days to get a new, Virginian driver’s license. In that time, however, you should still have a valid license from your former state. You may also have a foreign license if you’ve moved from another country.
If you are just visiting the state, a valid license from elsewhere is sufficient to legally drive a car. Active military members and their families are safe to drive in Virginia, too, but they also need valid ID from another state.
Aside from those cases, or for people who are driving farm equipment, the rules are cut-and-dry. If you want to drive a car, truck, or motorcycle in Virginia, you need to have an up-to-date Virginia license.
Penalties for Driving with No License
Driving without a license is a Class 2 misdemeanor in Virginia. Misdemeanors are the “middle level” of crimes, just above infractions and just below felonies. They tend to have a compounding effect, meaning that your first misdemeanor is a lighter charge with a lighter sentence. As you are charged with the same offense, the punishments get more severe.
The first time you are caught driving without a license, you can be put in jail for up to six months and fined up to $1,000. For the second offense, the state can jail you for up to a year and increase the fines up to $2,500. The court can also suspend your driving privileges altogether, for up to 90 days. Your car can be impounded for three days or until you get a license, whichever comes first.
If you cause a traffic accident and you don’t have a license, your pocketbook can take a real hit. Virginia courts can bill you for emergency services. This fine can include anything from the use of an ambulance or fire truck to a bill from the police department for their expenses.
Defenses for Driving Without a License
I am Andrew J. Cornick, Attorney at Law, and I have worked in criminal defense for over a decade. I am very familiar with Virginia traffic law, and I know how to build a case to defend my clients.
There are a number of ways I can fight against your charge. One tactic is to argue the technicalities of the charge. For the charge to stick, the driver must have been on a Virginia highway. I can investigate the area and see which parts fall under different legal classifications. It may be possible that you were on a stretch of road that was not officially classified as a highway. If that were the case, it can be argued that the charge is invalid.
I could present the court with evidence that you are new to the area, and that you were pulled over within your 60-day grace period. The law is all about details. If the arresting officer didn’t do their due diligence, I can find the inconsistencies and use them in court.
Sometimes, crimes can be overlooked in the case of an emergency. If you were rushing to the side of someone who needed your help, perhaps you were just in too much of a hurry to grab your wallet, and that’s why you didn’t have a license. I can find the particulars of your case and use them to argue in your favor.
Possibly the most important help I can give is arguing for a fair sentence. Most people want to do the right thing. It’s unlikely that you were openly flouting the law in defiance. In light of our recent worldwide events, a lot of people have fallen on hard times. Many have suffered losses, and dealing with the DMV is probably not foremost on people’s minds. You shouldn’t have to suffer jail time and crippling fees for an oversight, making life even harder.
I believe in everyone’s right to be represented in court, no matter the charge. If you are looking at serious consequences for driving without a license, please give me a call. I offer free, no-risk consultations. Call (540) 818-3859 or contact me online.