If you’re caught driving on a road or highway in Florida without a valid driver’s license, you could be facing serious consequences. In some cases, this crime happens completely accidentally. Many people simply leave the house, forgetting that they have not picked up their license. Alternatively, licenses can also sit in wallets and bags without regularly being removed, and many citizens do not realize that they have expired. However, there can also be many more serious reasons why a driver might be caught without a valid driver’s license.
Whatever your circumstances, get in touch with The Law Place today to work with an experienced criminal defense lawyer. We’re dedicated to defending the rights of citizens in Venice and the wider State of Florida with our legal knowledge and expertise. We work around the clock to achieve favorable case outcomes for all of our clients, no matter their case.
We have a number of specialties when it comes to vehicle crimes, including aggressive driving, general traffic offenses, driving under the influence, traffic tickets, and many more. So, if you or someone you know has been accused of driving without a valid driver’s license, get in touch with us today. We’re offering a free consultation, and we’re available to take your call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. So, call today on (941) 444-4444.
What Florida Law Says About Driving Without a Valid Driver’s License
According to Florida Statute 322.03, it is illegal to drive on any Florida highway without possessing a valid driver’s license. This is the case for drivers of both personal and commercial vehicles. This law also applies to any motor vehicle able to drive legally on the road, including:
- Emergency vehicles.
The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles states that a driver will need to apply for a Florida driver’s license if they:
- Are registered to vote in the State of Florida.
- Have lived in Florida for more than 6 months (unless they are studying in the state.)
- Have children enrolled in a Florida school.
- Have filed for homestead tax exemption in the state.
Exceptions to Florida License Holder Rules
However, the law does make exceptions. In some cases, individuals who have a valid driver’s license from another state can drive in Florida without a Florida license. These include:
- Non-Florida residents, such as drivers passing through or spending fewer than 6 consecutive months in the State of Florida.
- United States government employees that are operating on official business.
- Commuters who work in Florida and return to their home state regularly.
- Students who study in Florida but do not intend to reside there permanently.
Different Types of Driver’s Licenses in Venice, Florida
In Florida, there are 5 different types of driver’s licenses depending on the type of vehicle being driven. These are split into categories A, B, C, D, and E.
There are 3 types of commercial driver’s licenses that depend on the use and load size of a commercial vehicle:
- Class A – Vehicles with a gross vehicle weight of up to 26,001 pounds. This weight includes any trailers that are being towed.
- Class B – Vehicles with a gross vehicle weight of 26,001 pounds and above.
- Class C – Vehicles below 26,001 pounds that transport more than 15 passengers or for trucks used to transport hazardous or dangerous materials.
- Class D – Vehicles between 8,000 and 26,001 pounds.
- Class E – Vehicles below 8,000 pounds.
- Class E learner – For learner drivers of vehicles below 8,000 in weight.
Why Might a Driver Not Have a Valid License?
Even though it is against the law, there are many reasons why a driver in Venice may be driving without a valid license.
- Their license could have been revoked or suspended.
- They may have forgotten their license.
- They may not be in possession of a valid commercial license if they are driving a commercial vehicle.
- They have an out-of-state license that isn’t valid in the State of Florida, and they have spent more than 6 consecutive months in the state.
- They only hold a learner’s permit and are driving outside of daylight hours or are not meeting educational requirements.
- They have not yet handed over their license to be revoked following a conviction.
- Their license may have expired or become invalidated due to a name or address change.
Penalties for Driving Without a Valid Driver’s License in Venice
The penalties for driving without a valid driver’s license in Venice, Florida, vary depending on the specifics of each incident. Various factors which can affect the penalties for this crime include:
- Driving under the influence.
- Driving a stolen vehicle.
- Whether any violence or weapons were involved.
- The age of the driver.
- Whether you have committed other similar traffic offenses.
- Whether you have previous convictions on your criminal record.
- Whether an accident was caused.
- Whether any personal injury or property damage was caused.
If you’ve been caught driving with a suspended, revoked, invalid, or missing driver’s license, you’ll need to get in touch with an experienced Venice criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. Regardless of the severity of your case, it can be difficult to navigate the Florida legal system when it comes to driver’s license crimes.
The penalties for this crime also vary depending on your reason for not possessing a license at the time of your traffic stop.
Forgetting Your Driver’s License
If you do have a valid driver’s license, but you did not have it in your possession when you were stopped by a police officer, you will likely receive a citation for driving without a license. However, you may be able to avoid being convicted for this crime if you are able to produce your license during your court hearing. In this case, a court clerk can dismiss the citation and charge you a fee.
Driving Without a Valid License
If you are caught driving a motor vehicle with an expired or non-valid license or without a driver’s license altogether, you will be charged with a second-degree misdemeanor. In this case, you will receive a fine of up to $500 and could be required to spend up to 60 days in prison.
Providing this is your first offense of this nature in the last 12 months, you may be able to avoid a conviction if you are able to obtain a valid driver’s license before your hearing. You’ll also have to pay a court fee.
Driving Without a License Due to Lost Driving Privileges
There are many cases in which an individual may lose their driving privileges but still continue to drive. The loss of driving privileges means that your license has been:
- Suspended – Your license will be taken away temporarily.
- Revoked – Your license will be taken away for a period of 6 months – life.
If you have been caught driving whilst your license is suspended or revoked, this is a more serious crime. The penalty for driving with a revoked or suspended license depends on whether or not you have any previous convictions for this crime.
- Second-degree misdemeanor – First-time offenders of this crime could receive up to 60 days in prison with a fine of up to $500.
- First-degree misdemeanor – Second-time offenders could receive up to 1 year in prison, a fine of up to $1,000, further license suspension, and vehicle impoundment.
- Third-degree felony – Third-time offenders could receive up to 5 years in prison, a fine of up to $5,000, a license suspension of up to 5 years, and vehicle impoundment. These penalties increase if the three offenses occur within a 5-year period.
If your license or driving privilege has been revoked or suspended and you’ve been caught driving, you could be facing serious charges. In this case, it’s very important to hire a Florida criminal defense attorney to help you understand your rights and to work out how to achieve the best possible outcome in court.
What to Do if You Are Caught Driving With an Invalid Driver’s License
If you’re caught driving with an invalid or suspended license, there are a number of steps you should take to protect yourself and your rights.
During the Incident
- Cooperate with law enforcement – Our best piece of advice for this scenario is to be fully cooperative with law enforcement officers on the scene. You should never leave the scene of the crime until you have complied with police requests for information. (Although it is your right to withhold any self-incriminating evidence at this stage.) You should also avoid being dishonest or attempting to flee, as this will complicate your case and lead to more extreme consequences.
- Explain yourself – If you have simply forgotten your license, if you are exempt, or if you have another type of valid license such as an out-of-State one, you should explain yourself clearly to police officers if you have been stopped. Occasionally you can still receive a citation, for example, if you are exempt but are not carrying adequate proof of this. In this case, you’ll still need to cooperate with law enforcement and then seek legal help afterward to make sure the citation is dropped.
After the Incident
- Contact a Venice criminal defense attorney – Regardless of your circumstance, you’ll need to contact a criminal defense lawyer to defend your rights in court and try to achieve the best possible outcome for your case. You should do this as soon as possible after the incident to give your lawyer the best ability to build a strong defense.
- Attend your court date – After you have been given a citation for driving without a valid driver’s license, you will also be given a date you will need to appear in court. You’ll need to honor this date as any failure to show up can result in higher fines and increased sentences. You should also make sure to find professional legal representation well in advance of this date to start building a strong case.
- Cooperate in court and answer honestly – Your criminal defense lawyer will help you to form a legitimate legal defense against any charges you may face. However, it is always your duty to answer honestly and to the best of your ability whilst under oath in a court of law.
Applying for a Driver’s License After a Citation
In some cases, you may be able to avoid a conviction for driving without a valid driver’s license if you are able to obtain one before your assigned court date. However, this is not possible for individuals who:
- Have had their license revoked or suspended.
- Would not ordinarily be eligible for a driver’s license in the State of Florida.
- Are addicted to alcohol or drugs.
- Have applied for a new license to avoid a driving without a valid driver’s license charge in the last 12 months.
If your driver’s license has expired or has become invalid due to circumstances, such as a name or address change, you’ll likely be able to renew your license. However, if you simply do not have one, you’ll need to apply for a new driver’s license.
Getting in a Car Accident Without a Valid Driver’s License in Venice
The penalties for causing a motor vehicle accident if you do not possess a valid driver’s license are much stricter. In this case, you’ll be facing long prison sentences and higher fines, as well as license suspensions and revocations. However, this does not mean you are not entitled to legal help and support.
Working with a Venice criminal defense attorney can help you to safeguard your future and attempt to have any charges downgraded. The legal defense your lawyer will build in this scenario depends on whether you were at fault for the accident or not.
If You’ve Caused the Accident
If you’ve gotten into a car accident without a valid driver’s license, it’s likely that your insurance will also be invalid. In this case, you may be liable to pay for any damages even if the other driver has uninsured motorist insurance.
However, the outcome depends on your situation with the vehicle you were driving:
- The vehicle belonged to you – This means that you could have to pay for expensive damages out of pocket, especially if someone files a personal injury claim against you.
- The vehicle belonged to someone else, and you borrowed it – If the vehicle you borrowed belonged to someone else, they could be held liable to pay any damages resulting from an accident, even though the vehicle was not being driven by the owner.
- The vehicle belonged to someone else, and you stole it – If you caused an accident with a missing, invalid, or suspended license in a stolen vehicle, the vehicle holder will usually not be held liable for damages. In this case, you could be required to pay out of pocket.
- The vehicle belonged to your employer – If you were driving without a valid driver’s license and caused an accident in a commercial vehicle, you could still be held liable. Although in some cases, your employer could be required to pay in order to recover damages, for example, if they knew that you were driving without a valid license and continued to employ you to drive their vehicle.
If the Accident Wasn’t Your Fault
In some cases, you may not have been at fault for a car accident, but you may still have been driving without a valid driver’s license. However, your failure to possess a license does not automatically make you at fault for a car accident. The incident could still have been caused by the negligence of another party.
In this case, you are still entitled to file a personal injury claim and could still be entitled to receive compensation for any injuries or property damage caused to you. However, you may still have to face charges for driving without a valid driver’s license as well as any other crimes you may have committed before or during the incident, such as vehicle theft or driving whilst intoxicated, if this was the case.
However, driving without a license usually invalidates your insurance, if you have any. As a result, it is unlikely that your insurance company will cover the cost of any injuries or damages.
How Could a Criminal Defense Lawyer Defend Me in Court?
There are a number of ways in which a criminal defense lawyer could defend you in a court of law if you were caught driving without a valid driver’s license. Whilst the exact methods will vary depending on the specifics of each case, some of the defenses your lawyer could use include:
- Proving that you were exempt from needing to possess a Florida driver’s license and that you had a valid out-of-state or foreign one.
- Showing that you were driving on private property, not a road or highway that was open to the public, and therefore did not need to possess a license.
- Arguing that law enforcement officers did not possess enough evidence.
- Questioning the reason for your traffic stop, as officers must have reasonable suspicion that you are committing, intend to commit, or have committed a crime in order to conduct a traffic stop. If your attorney can prove that officers conducted an illegal traffic stop, your charges could be reduced or dropped.
- Questioning the conduct of police officers at the scene. If it can be proved that they behaved inappropriately, a judge could choose to downgrade or dismiss your charge. This could be the case if police officers used a disproportionate amount of force, violated your right to withhold self-incriminating information, or failed to properly recite your Miranda warnings.
Why Work With a Criminal Defence Lawyer From The Law Place?
There are many different law firms in Venice, as well as the wider State of Florida. However, here at The Law Place, we’re proud to set ourselves apart.
Our Team Experience
We have over 75 combined years of experience in winning cases all across Florida. We’ve also created a team of professional, determined, and dedicated attorneys and litigators to take on any case, no matter how big or small.
We’re also proud to work with a team-oriented approach. This means that whilst you’ll be assigned one lawyer, you’ll also get the benefit of the whole team on your case. We work together as a law firm to build the best possible defenses for our clients.
Variety of Practice Areas
We don’t just specialize in crimes involving driver’s licenses. We’re also experienced in a variety of personal injury cases and traffic crimes.:
Wide Number of Areas Served in Florida
We’re proud to offer legal support and advice to our clients all over the State of Florida.
Contact The Law Place to Hire a Criminal Defence Lawyer Today
If you’re facing missing, invalid, or suspended license charges due to operating a motor vehicle without a driver’s license, you may not know where to turn for legal help. However, it’s important to seek legal advice as early as possible after being caught driving without a valid license to have the best chance of building a strong legal defense before your court date.
So, regardless of whether you’re facing minor or more serious charges, you’ll need a Venice criminal defense attorney to defend your rights and safeguard your future. Here at The Law Place, we work around the clock with dedication and attention to detail in order to help you achieve a favorable case outcome. In fact, we’re available to take your call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. So, speak with a Venice criminal defense lawyer near you today on (941) 444-4444.