If you are charged with Driving Without a Valid Driver’s License, you may not feel the charges are all that serious. In fact, a conviction for Driving Without a Valid Driver’s License can result in both short and long-term repercussion and penalties. Under Florida Statutes, Section 322.03(1), it is unlawful for a person to drive a motor vehicle on a Florida state highway without a valid driver’s license. Under this statute: a) you must have physically controlled the vehicle, b) you must have been driving in a place which allows the public to drive motorized vehicles, and c) you had no state-issued driver’s license which authorized you to drive a motorized vehicle on a public road, highway or street.
What is the Difference Between a Suspended License and No Valid License?
The charges of driving on a suspended license and driving without a valid driver’s license differ from one another as far as the elements of the offense as well as the penalties associated with the offense. There is no element of proof of knowledge in the charge of driving without a valid driver’s license in the state of Florida—the state must only show you were driving and you had no valid driver’s license. There is an element of proof of knowledge if you are charged with driving on a suspended license, that is the state must prove you knew your license was suspended. A conviction for driving without a valid license does not count toward classifying you as a Habitual Traffic Offender, while a conviction for driving with a suspended license does.
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Potential Penalties for Driving Without a Valid Driver’s License
If you are convicted of driving without a valid driver’s license in the state of Florida, you face a second-degree misdemeanor that could result in a fine as large as $500 and up to 60 days in jail, although if you have no prior criminal record, it is unlikely you will be sentenced to jail. You also could be eligible for a pre-trial diversion program that upon successful completion (paying money, getting your license if eligible and staying out of trouble for a period of time) the charges would be dismissed and you could thereafter seek to have the charges taken off your record.
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Potential Defenses to the Charge of Driving Without a Valid Driver’s License in the State of Florida
If you have been charged with driving without a valid driver’s license, your criminal attorney will determine the best defense on your behalf. One or more of the following common defenses may apply:
- You were not actually driving on a street or highway which was open to the public;
- You possessed a valid foreign or out-of-state driver’s license;
- You possessed a valid Florida driver’s license, you just did not have it with you;
- You were unlawfully stopped, or unlawfully detained following your traffic stop, or
- The state of Florida lacks sufficient evidence to show you did not have a valid driver’s license.
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Exemptions to the Requirement to Possess a Driver’s License
There are certain exceptions to the above law, as some classifications of people are not required to have a driver’s license, such as:
- Farm machinery operators for such equipment as tractors;
- A person who is at least 18, but is not a resident of the state of Florida, and has, in his or her possession, a valid non-commercial driver’s license from their country or home state;
- A person who is at least 16 years of age, but is not a resident of the state of Florida, and has, in his or her possession, a valid, non-commercial driver’s license from their country or home state, who operates a vehicle which requires a Class E license, and
- Operators of golf carts.
One of the primary goals of your Florida criminal defense attorney will be to prevent this charge from becoming a conviction and having the case dismissed if possible. The criminal attorneys at The Law Place have extensive experience helping Floridians keep their records clean, and walk away from charges like Driving Without a Valid Driver’s License. Don’t make the mistake of thinking your charges are so minor they don’t require the services of a criminal defense attorney. You could find yourself sitting in jail, and could later find it extremely difficult to obtain employment from this one conviction. Contact The Law Place today for solid, knowledgeable legal experience. Call 941-444-4444.
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