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What happens if I get caught driving without a license?

Driving without a license here in Georgia is more than a simple traffic violation. It is usually a serious offense that comes with a court date. To ignore charges can lead to additional more severe charges and headaches, so it is best to address these matters.

Driving without your valid license because you misplaced it or forgot it is a valid defense but still could involve a citation for not having it while driving. Generally speaking, defendants will be hard-pressed to convince a judge that they are innocent of wrongdoing because they absolutely needed to drive despite knowingly not having a valid license.

Suspended license

Some with suspended licenses are tempted to keep driving, perhaps believing they have no choice because of a job or other important obligations. The maximum penalties are one year in jail or a $1,000 fine. The minimum is two days in jail and a $500 fine. Either way, the charges go on a permanent criminal record. It also impacts your ability to obtain a driver’s license again in the near future – and it will then come with a reinstatement fee. Subsequent charges for driving without a license will escalate to felonies.

Never had a license?

These misdemeanor charges are less severe. Whether the driver is too young for a license or just never got one, it comes with a maximum penalty of one year in jail or a$1,000 fine.

Exploring alternatives

The driver can still explain their circumstances to the judge — there may be extenuating circumstances that lessen the penalties, such as a job. Perhaps, your license lapsed, and you ran out of time to renew it. Some people don’t realize when they move from another state that they need to get a Georgia license within 30 days of becoming a Georgia resident.

The driver may then be able to get the charges reduced. Another option would be to pursue a restricted license in order to maintain their employment. The circumstance of each case is different, so it is always best to find a workable solution rather than ignore the problem or accept the penalties without mounting a proper defense.