Driving Without a License – California Vehicle Code (CVC) Section 12500

If you’ve been charged with driving without a license under California Vehicle Code Section 12500, you should immediately contact a driving without a license attorney at The H Law Group. Driving without a valid driver’s license can be charged as a misdemeanor, you should not take a misdemeanor charge lightly as it carries a maximum jail sentence of up to six (6) months and/or a fine of up to $1,000. The prosecution has the option of charging an individual with driving without a license as either an infraction or a misdemeanor. If you’ve been charged with misdemeanor driving without a license, please contact us to represent you. Schedule your free consultation by calling us at (213) 370-0404.

What is Driving Without a License?

In the State of California, an individual is only permitted to drive a car if he or she has a license to do so. The prosecution typically charges an individual with violation VC 12500 if he (1) has never applied for a driver’s license, (2) his license has expired, and he has failed to renew it, or (3) he became a resident of the State of California and has not obtained a California State License within ten (10) days of becoming a California State resident.

At The H Law Group, we understanding that going to the DMV to obtain a driver’s license is a time consuming and frankly annoying process, but as a California resident, you are required to have to operate an automobile. If you fail to obtain one and you’re caught driving without a valid license, the prosecution can charge you with violating Section 12500 VC.

For the prosecution to convict you of violating CVC 12500, it must prove the following elements:

  • You were operating an automobile on a public road,
  • At the time you were pulled over, you did not have a valid driver’s license, and
  • You were not excused from operating a vehicle without a valid license

Offenses Related to Driving Without a License

At The H Law Group, our clients come to us often charged with the following crimes, in addition to driving without a license:

  • Driving on a Suspended License CVC 14601
  • Failing to Present a Valid Driver’s License CVC 12951

Driving without a License vs Driving on a Suspended License

Driving without a license is a charge that’s usually brought against an individual who is driving without ever having applied for a license or someone whose license has expired and was driving on it without renewing it. Driving on a suspended driver’s license, on the other hand, is a charge that’s brought against someone who has had their driver’s license suspended by the DMV and yet has continued to drive. For example, if you’re convicted of a DUI, and the DMV has suspended your license, you may be charged with driving on a suspended driver’s license if you’re pulled over by a police officer who has caught you driving on a suspended license. Driving on a suspended license is a much more serious offense than driving without a license.

Penalties for Driving without a License

If you’ve been charged and convicted of driving without a license in Los Angeles or elsewhere in California, you should know that you face a maximum of six (6) months in jail and/or a fine of up to $1,000. That said, the prosecution has the option of charging this crime as an infraction. If charges as an infraction, you’re looking at a fine of up to $250.

Defenses to Driving Without a License?

If you’ve been charged with driving a car without a license, here are some of the defenses that your attorney may be able to make:

  • You were visiting California and you have a valid license that was issued by your country or State
  • You have a valid license but it was not with you at the time you were pulled over
  • You are excused from the requirement of having a driver’s license
  • It has been less than twenty (20) days since you’ve moved to California

If you’ve been charged with driving without a license, you should contact a criminal defense attorney at The H Law Group. Our experienced attorneys will try to the charges against you reduced into an infraction instead of a misdemeanor. We’ve had tremendous success in reducing our clients’ misdemeanor driving without a license charges to an infraction. So, schedule your free consultation today.

Do you Need a License to Drive in California?

It should be obvious that you need to have a valid driver’s license to drive in Los Angeles and the State of California. If you’re visiting California, you can drive in California without obtaining a license from this State. However, if you intend to stay in and live in California, you need to obtain a driver’s license when you become a resident of this State. That said, if you’re not driving on a public roadway, you’re allowed to drive a vehicle without a driver’s license. We often get asked, “Can I drive in California on an out of state license? The answer is yes, you can, as long as your license is valid in your home state, and you’re not a resident of California.

Common Reasons People are Charged of Driving without a License

Most of our clients are charged with this crime for one of the following reasons:

  1. The defendant never applied for a drivers license
  2. The defendant let his license expire and did not renew it
  3. The defendant moved to California and continued to drive an out of state license for more than 20 days of coming to California

Examples of Driving Without a Drivers License

For instance, if your dad forgets to renew his driver’s license and drives on an expired license, hey may be charged with driving without a license if an officer pulls him over and charges him with it under 12500 VC.

For example, if your cousin has recently moved from Georgia to California and does not apply for a California License, instead, he continues to drive on his Georgia License. In this example, if your cousin is pulled over by a police officer, he can be charged with driving without a license because an individual has twenty (20) days within moving to California to apply for a California State License.

For example, if you have a home in California and another home in Nevada and you’re always moving between both states, if you’re pulled over, it’s unlikely that an officer will charge you with driving with no license because you’re excused from this requirement.

Driving Without a License After a DUI

If you’ve been charged with a DUI, chances are that you lost your privilege to drive a car. If you continue to drive on a suspended license, although the prosecutor can charge you for driving without a license, he will likely charge you with the more serious charge of driving on a suspended license. Whether you’ve been charged with driving without a driver’s license or driving on a suspended license, you should hire a criminal defense lawyer to represent you and fight for you throughout the criminal process.

Criminal Defense Attorney for Driving Without a License

If you’ve been charged with driving a car without a driver’s license, you should contact a criminal defense attorney at The H Law Group to represent you. Our attorneys have the experience and knowledge to get your misdemeanor reduced into a traffic infraction. If convicted of misdemeanor driving with no license, you may be sent to jail for up to six months; however, if your attorney gets the charges reduced to an infraction, you will not have to spend any time in jail. You will only have to pay a $250 fine. Schedule your free consultation today by filling out the contact form below or by calling us at 1 (213) 370-0404.

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Charged with a Crime?


Act now to protect your legal rights.