Owning an in-date driving license is a legal requirement for drivers. If you are driving and you do not own a license, then that puts you on the wrong side of the law and you may find yourself facing penalties and legal charges.
The precise charges for driving without a license will vary from state to state but in every part of the country it is considered an infraction and could result in a number of penalties.
But things get a little more complicated still if you get into an accident when driving with an expired license. In fact, you may find that this voids your insurance policy. Read on to learn more and to find out what you should do next if you find yourself in these circumstances.
Legal Consequences of Driving Without a License
Ticket fines for driving sans-license will cost you up to $250 depending on where you were driving. What’s more, is that you may end up with points on your permanent driving record, which of course could result in your losing your right to drive. It’s also common for the vehicle to be impounded.
The severity of the fines will increase depending on numerous factors. For instance, they will be smaller for first offenses versus those that have been caught out on numerous occasions. Likewise, the fines will tend to be lower if the license is only slightly expired. Ultimately, this comes down to the discretion of the officer and you may be let go with only a warning if the license is only just out of date.
But of course there is no guarantee that you’re going to get a lenient officer. Instead, you might find that you get asked to step out of the vehicle and find an alternative means of transportation home. This is to prevent the ‘continuation’ of the offense and your car may be impounded to ensure you follow instructions. In this scenario, you will be charged for the cost of towing and impounding and this will be in addition to the cost of the ticket. And note that any change to your record is going to impact on the premiums associated with your insurance.
Also useful to note, is that in most states there is a ’30 day grace period’. In other words, for the month following the expiration date of your license, you will still be treated as though you still have it in date. The idea here of course is to provide you with time to get the license renewed.
What if You Have an Accident?
If you have an accident however, then things become a little more complicated. You might risk being sued and at the same time, you could find that your insurance company is unwilling to pay.
First, you will face the consequences of driving without a license, which will include a fine and having your car impounded. Don’t expect leniency here: as you have demonstrated that you are potentially a hazard on the road, you can expect to face the full force of the law and the maximum charge. If the accident was your fault, then you will have points added to your record and these will be on top of the points that you receive for driving with an expired license.
At the same time, you may find that your insurance company refuses to cover you for the damage and this will depend on the insurance company in question. Some companies will pay-out regardless of the status of your driving license as you were still covered by the insurance and there is no law stating that one is dependent on the other.
However, you might alternatively discover that there was small print in the contract requiring the driver to hold a full and in-date driving license. If this is mentioned in your policy, then you will not have the help of an insurance company and that means that you will need to cover all expenses incurred by yourself and the other party (only where the accident is deemed your fault).
You may be able to afford to cover these expenses yourself. However, in some cases you might face astronomical costs – especially medical bills – and this might leave you unable to pay. Now you can face getting sued by the other party in order to get the money. In the worst case scenario, this could even lead to your losing your property as you attempt to pay for the full amount.
As mentioned, this is ultimately at the discretion of your auto insurer. But it is very common to find that this requirement is in the contract somewhere, as of course your insurers want to try and attract only the safest and most reliable drivers to their policies and that means looking for people who are going to have a full and in-date driving license.
How to Proceed
As you can see then, it is very important to get your driving license renewed as early as possible. While you may only get a caution if you get pulled over, you might well face more serious consequences. Not only that, but if you should have an accident then you can find yourself facing huge costs and unable to pay them. The best way to proceed is simply to ensure that your license is in date and to check it regularly!