What Happens If You Get Caught Driving Without a License?

Last Updated on October 9, 2020

You need a license to legally drive in the United States. If you are caught driving without a license, then you face fines, imprisonment, and other penalties.

In most states, drivers pay a fine for driving without a license. Drivers in Wisconsin, for example, pay just $50 for driving without a license in most situations.

In other states, drivers face more serious consequences for driving without a license. Drivers in Illinois, for example, could pay a $25,000 fine or have their license suspended for being caught driving without a license.

What happens if you get caught driving without a license in your state? Today, we’re breaking down the state-by-state penalties for being caught driving without a license.

What Happens If You Get Caught Driving Without a LicenseClick on your state below to be brought to it.

Alabama

Being caught driving without a license in Alabama is considered a misdemeanor. Drivers pay a fine of $100 to $500. For your 1st offense, you could face imprisonment of no more than 180 days, immediate vehicle impoundment, and possible license suspension for 6 months. Each time you are caught driving without a license, your suspension could increase by another 6 months.

Alaska

Your 1st offense in Alaska is considered a Class A misdemeanor. Your license could be suspended for 10 days, and you could be required to complete at least 80 hours of community service. You may also need to forfeit your vehicle. For each subsequent offense, your license is suspended for an additional 90 days.

Arizona

Arizona considers driving without a license to be a Class 1 misdemeanor for your 1st offense. Drivers could be imprisoned for up to 6 months and have their vehicle impounded for up to 30 days. If you are caught driving on a suspended or revoked license in Arizona, then this is considered a Class 2 Misdemeanor, which carries a potential sentence of 4 months in prison and fines of up to $750.

Arkansas

Arkansas considers driving without a license to be a misdemeanor, and drivers pay a fine of no more than $500 for being caught driving without a license. For the 1st offense, drivers could be imprisoned for 2 days to 6 months. If you are caught driving with a revoked license, then you could face a 1-year suspension beyond the initial date the revocation was supposed to end.

California

California charges drivers a fine of $300 to $1,000 for driving without a license. Drivers could also face imprisonment of 5 days to 6 months. Subsequent offenses could lead to 10 days to 1 year of imprisonment and a $500 to $2,000 fine.

Colorado

In Colorado, drivers caught driving without a license are charged with a misdemeanor and must pay a penalty of no more than $500. Drivers could face imprisonment of up to 6 months and license suspension for 1 year. If your license was revoked because of an alcohol-related offense, then you could spend 30 days to 1 year in jail for your 1st offense and pay a fine of $500 to $1,000. For subsequent offenses, drivers in Colorado will not be able to obtain a driver’s license for a 3 year period. For subsequent alcohol-related offenses, drivers will face a mandatory 90 day to 2-year prison sentence and a minimum fine of $500 to $3,000.

Connecticut

Connecticut charges drivers $150 to $200 for driving without a license, and drivers could spend a maximum of 3 months in prison. Subsequent offenses could lead to a $200 to $600 fine and/or imprisonment of up to 1 year.

Delaware

Delaware charges drivers a fine of $500 to $1,000 for driving without a license. Drivers may also be imprisoned for 30 days to 6 months and face a vehicle impoundment of at least 90 days. For subsequent offenses, drivers will face imprisonment of 60 days to 1 year, a $1,000 to $4,000 fine, and vehicle impoundment of at least 1 year.

District of Columbia

Drivers in Washington, D.C. pay a penalty of $2,500 for being caught driving without a license and could face imprisonment of up to 1 year.

Florida

Drivers in Florida are charged with a misdemeanor for driving without a license and could pay a fine of $500 to $5,000. For their 1st offense, Florida drivers are charged with a 2nd-degree misdemeanor, imprisonment of no more than 60 days, and a $500 fine. For a 2nd offense, drivers face imprisonment of up to 1 year and a $1,000 fine. For additional offenses (beyond your 2nd offense) drivers face a 3rd-degree felony charge, imprisonment of no more than 5 years, or a $5,000 fine, along with immediate impoundment of the vehicle.

Georgia

Drivers in Georgia are charged with a misdemeanor for driving without a license and could face a fine of $500 to $5,000. For their 1st offense, drivers may face imprisonment of 2 days to 1 year and an additional fine of $1,000. For 2nd and 3rd offenses, drivers in Georgia may be charged with an aggravated misdemeanor, face imprisonment of 10 days to 1 year, and pay an additional fine of $1,000 to $2,500. For the 4th and subsequent offenses, drivers face a felony charge, imprisonment of 1 to 5 years, and additional fines of $2,500 to $5,000.

Hawaii

Hawaii charges drivers with a fine of $250 to $2,000 for driving without a license. For the 1st offense, drivers pay a $250 to $1,000 fine, face imprisonment for 3 to 30 days, and have their suspension increased by 1 year if driving on a suspended license. For 2nd offenses, drivers face 30 days in prison, a $1,000 fine, and a 2-year increase in license suspension. For 3rd offenses and beyond, drivers in Hawaii face 1 year of imprisonment, a $2,000 fine, and permanent license revocation.

Idaho

Idaho charges drivers with a misdemeanor for their 1st offense, along with imprisonment of 2 days to 6 months and a fine of no more than $1,000. If caught driving on a suspended license, Idaho increases the suspension period by 180 days. For the 2nd offense, drivers face imprisonment of 20 days to 1 year, a fine of $1,000, and a 1 year longer license suspension. For subsequent offenses, drivers face imprisonment of 30 days to 1 year, fines of $3,000, and a 2 year longer license suspension.

Illinois

Illinois has some of the strictest penalties for driving without a license. Drivers in Illinois are charged with a Class A misdemeanor for their 1st offense, face imprisonment of up to 1 year, and pay a fine of up to $2,500. For subsequent offenses, Illinois drivers face a Class 4 felony, imprisonment of 1 to 3 years, a fine of up to $25,000, and possible vehicle impoundment. For the 4th offense and beyond, drivers could have their license plate seized and their vehicle immobilized.

Indiana

Indiana also has strict rules for drivers caught without a license. For their 1st offense, drivers could be charged with a Class 6 felony, face imprisonment of 6 months to 2.5 years, and pay a fine of up to $10,000.

Iowa

Iowa charges drivers with a misdemeanor and requires drivers to pay a fine of $250 to $1,500. Iowa also increases the license suspension period for up to 1 year.

Kansas

In Kansas, drivers are charged with a Class B nonperson misdemeanor for their 1st offense and will pay a fine of at least $100. Drivers could also face imprisonment of at least 5 days. For subsequent offenses, drivers could face a Class A nonperson misdemeanor, imprisonment for up to 5 days, and a fine of at least $100, along with an increase in the license suspension time by at least 90 days.

Kentucky

Drivers in Kentucky are charged with a Class B misdemeanor for their 1st offense, face imprisonment of up to 90 days, and have their license suspension increased by 6 months, along with paying a fine of up to $250. For the 2nd offense, drivers are charged with a Class A misdemeanor, face imprisonment of 90 days to 1 year, and have their license suspension increased by 1 year. For 3rd offenses and beyond, drivers are charged with a Class D felony for driving without a license in Kentucky and could face imprisonment of 1 to 5 years and a 2 year longer license suspension period.

Louisiana

Louisiana requires drivers to pay a fine of $500, face imprisonment of up to 6 months, and pay an additional potential civil penalty of up to $1,250 (for driving without a Class D or E driver’s license). Those caught driving without a Class A, B, or C driver’s license could face imprisonment of up to 6 months, fines of a maximum of $5,000, or both, along with a civil penalty of up to $2,500. For 2nd offenses and beyond, drivers could face imprisonment of 7 days to 6 months, fines of $300 to $500, civil fines of $1,150 to $2,500, and an increase in license suspension by 1 year, depending on license class.

Maine

Drivers in Maine are charged with a Class E crime for driving without a license. This charge comes with a fine of up to $1,000 and a maximum of 6 months in prison.

Maryland

Maryland charges drivers with a misdemeanor for their 1st offense and requires drivers to pay a fine of up to $1,000. Drivers could have their license suspension increased by 1 year. For 2nd offenses and beyond, drivers could face a maximum of 2 years in prison, fines of 1,000, and 18 to 24 months of additional license suspension.

Massachusetts

Massachusetts charges drivers with a misdemeanor for their 1st offense, with imprisonment of up to 10 days and a $500 to $1,000 fine. For the 2nd offense and beyond, drivers are imprisoned for 60 days to 1 year and have their suspension increased by 60 days.

Michigan

Drivers in Michigan are charged with a misdemeanor for their 1st offense and pay a fine of $500 to $1,000. Drivers could also face up to 93 days in prison, a fine of up to $500, or both. For the 2nd offense and beyond, drivers are charged with a misdemeanor, face imprisonment of up to 1 year, and must pay a fine of up to $1,000, along with the cancellation of vehicle registration and an increase in the license suspension period.

Minnesota

Minnesota drivers are charged with a misdemeanor and pay a fine of up to $1,000. Drivers could also face imprisonment of up to 90 days or a fine of up to $1,000, or both.

Mississippi

Drivers in Mississippi are charged with a misdemeanor and face a fine of $200 to $500, imprisonment of 2 days to 6 months, and an increase in license suspension by 6 months.

Missouri

Drivers in Missouri are charged with a Class D misdemeanor for their 1st offense and pay a fine of up to $500. Although there’s no specific length of imprisonment, this length is not to exceed 1 year. For the 2nd offense and beyond, drivers are charged with a Class A misdemeanor, a maximum fine of $2,000, and imprisonment of 6 months to 1 year. For 3rd offenses and beyond, drivers are charged with a Class E felony and face imprisonment of up to 4 years.

Montana

Montana charges drivers with a fine of up to $500 and imprisonment of up to 6 months for being caught driving without a license the 1st time. For 2nd offenses and beyond, drivers face imprisonment of a minimum of 2 days and a maximum of 6 months, an increase in license suspension by 1 year, and vehicle seizure for 30 days.

Nebraska

Nebraska charges drivers with a Class II misdemeanor for their 1st offense. Drivers are also unable to operate any motor vehicle for 1 year and have their license suspended for 1 year. For 2nd and 3rd offenses, drivers are charged with another Class II misdemeanor but are unable to operate any motor vehicle for 2 years (and have their license suspended for the same period). For 4th offenses and beyond, drivers face a Class I misdemeanor and are unable to operate any motor vehicle for 2 years and have their license suspended for 2 years.

Nevada

Drivers in Nevada caught without a license face imprisonment of up to 6 months or a maximum fine of $1,000 (or both). If the license was suspended at the time you were caught driving without a license, the suspension is extended by the original period. If the license was revoked at the time, the revocation is extended for 1 extra year.

New Hampshire

New Hampshire drivers are charged with a misdemeanor and face minimum imprisonment of 7 consecutive 24-hour periods, and you must serve this imprisonment within 6 months of the conviction. Drivers must also pay a fine of $1,000 and could have their license suspension increased by 1 year.

New Jersey

New Jersey drivers pay a $500 fine for the 1st time caught driving without a license. If caught driving with a license for a 2nd time, drivers face imprisonment of 1 to 5 days and a $750 fine. If caught driving without a license for a 3rd time and beyond, drivers are imprisoned for 10 days and pay a $1,000 fine, along with a license suspension increase of 6 months.

New Mexico

New Mexico drivers pay a misdemeanor of up to $1,000 for driving without a license. Drivers also face imprisonment of 4 to 364 days, a fine of up to $1,000, and possible vehicle immobilization. There are no additional penalties for 2nd offenses and beyond.

New York

Drivers in New York pay a fine of $200 to $500 for their 1st offense and imprisonment of up to 30 days. For the 2nd offense and beyond, drivers face imprisonment of up to 180 days and a fine of up to $500.

North Carolina

In North Carolina, drivers are charged with a Class 3 misdemeanor for their 1st offense, imprisonment of 1 to 10 days, fines of up to $200, and an increase in license suspension by up to 1 year. For the 2nd offense, drivers have their license suspension increased by 2 years. For the 3rd offenses, the driver’s license is permanently suspended.

North Dakota

North Dakota charges drivers with a Class B misdemeanor for the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd times caught driving without a license, along with imprisonment of up to 30 days or a $1,500 fine (or both). For the 4th offense and beyond, drivers face a Class A misdemeanor along with imprisonment up to 1 year or a $3,000 fine (or both), along with possible destruction of license plate.

Ohio

If caught driving without a license once, drivers in Ohio are charged with an unclassified misdemeanor and must pay a fine of up to $1,000. Drivers could also be required to perform 500 hours of community service. For the 2nd offense and beyond, drivers are charged with a 1st-degree misdemeanor, imprisonment of up to 180 days, and a $1,000 fine, along with possible impoundment of the license plate.

Oklahoma

Oklahoma charges drivers with a fine of $100 to $500 for their 1st offense. For their 2nd offense, drivers could pay a $200 to $750 fine. And for subsequent offenses, drivers could face imprisonment of up to 1 year or a $300 to $1,000 fine, or both. Drivers could be charged with a misdemeanor any time caught driving without a license.

Oregon

Oregon charges drivers with a Class A traffic infraction if caught driving without a license. Drivers could also be required to pay a $220 to $2,000 fine and face possible vehicle impoundment. Oregon does not charge additional penalties for 2nd offenses and beyond.

Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania charges drivers a $200 fine for their 1st offense, increases their license suspension time by 1 year (if the license was already suspended), or by 2 years (if license was already revoked). Pennsylvania does not charge additional penalties for the 2nd offense and beyond.

Rhode Island

Rhode Island drivers could face a misdemeanor, a $250 to $500 fine, imprisonment of up to 30 days, and a license suspension increase of up to 3 months for being caught driving without a license. For 2nd offenses and beyond, Rhode Island drivers could face imprisonment of up to 1 year, a $350 to $1,000 offense, and license suspension increases of 6 months, or total revocation of license.

South Carolina

South Carolina drivers are charged with a Class 1 misdemeanor, imprisonment of up to 1 year, and a fine of up to $2,000 for being caught driving without a license. For driving with a suspended or canceled license, drivers are charged with a Class 2 misdemeanor, leading to imprisonment of up to 30 days and a fine of up to $500.

Tennessee

Tennessee charges drivers with a Class B misdemeanor for their 1st offense along with imprisonment of up to 6 months or a fine of up to $500 (or both). If caught driving on a suspended license, the suspension time will be increased by the original suspension period. For 2nd offenses and beyond, drivers face a Class A misdemeanor, imprisonment of up to 12 months or a fine of up to $2,500 (or both), along with an increased license suspension period based on the original suspension time.

Texas

Drivers in Texas are charged with a Class C misdemeanor and a maximum fine of $500 for driving without a license the 1st time. For subsequent offenses, drivers are charged with a Class B misdemeanor, imprisonment of up to 180 days, and fines of up to $2,000.

Utah

Utah drivers face imprisonment of up to 90 days, a $750 fine, and a Class C misdemeanor if caught driving without a license.

Vermont

Vermont drivers pay a fine of up to $5,000 and face 2 years of prison for being caught without a license the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th times. For the 6th offenses and beyond, drivers face imprisonment of up to 2 years or a fine of $5,000 (or both), along with the potential seizure of license plates.

Virginia

Virginia charges drivers with a Class 1 misdemeanor and imprisonment of up to 12 months or a fine of $2,500 (or both). Virginia does not increase penalties for the 2nd offenses or beyond.

Washington

Washington charges drivers with a gross misdemeanor for driving without a license, which could lead to imprisonment of up to 1 year or a fine of up to $5,000 (or both).

West Virginia

West Virginia drivers are charged with a misdemeanor and must pay a fine of $100 to $500 for their 1st and 2nd offenses. For their 3rd offenses and beyond, drivers face another misdemeanor, imprisonment of 30 to 90 days, and a fine of $150 to $500.

Wisconsin

Wisconsin charges drivers with a $500 to $200 penalty for their 1st offense. If caught driving on a revoked license, drivers pay a fine of $2,500 and could have their vehicle impounded

Wyoming

Wyoming charges drivers with imprisonment of up to 6 months or a maximum fine of $750 (or both). Wyoming does not increase charges for the 2nd offenses or beyond.

Final Word: Be Aware of State-by-State Penalties for Driving Without a License

Familiarize yourself with the penalties for being caught driving without a license in your state.

In some states, driving without a license is a minor offense with a small fine. In other states, it’s a felony with thousands of dollars in fines.

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