If you are facing traffic charges for driving without a valid driver’s license in Florida, you are likely wondering what the maximum penalties are that you could be facing.
The maximum penalties for driving without a valid driver’s license depend upon the specific offense and whether you have faced other recent traffic offenses in the last year.
Moreover, anyone who is facing charges for driving without a valid license should know that there are consequences or penalties of having a criminal record that extend beyond paying a fine or serving a jail sentence.
We want to provide you with more information about the fines associated with driving without a valid license and to encourage you to seek defense help from a Florida traffic defense attorney.
Penalties for Driving Without a Driver’s License in Florida
Under Florida law (Fla. Stat. § 322.03), all drivers in the state of Florida must have a driver’s license to operate a vehicle unless they fall into a category of persons who are exempted from this requirement.
The statute specifically states that “a person may not drive any motor vehicle upon a highway in this state unless such a person has a valid driver license issued” under Florida law. If you are cited for violating the law, you can face penalties. In most circumstances, the offense of driving without a valid license is a misdemeanor criminal offense under Florida law. the
The Maximum Penalty Includes:
- Up to $500 fine; and
- Up to 60 days in jail.
If you have not had another traffic citation in the last year, it may be possible to avoid these maximum penalties. Instead, a driver who is eligible may be able to lawfully obtain a license and pay a court assessment fee in order to avoid the fine.
In other words, in a scenario where a person lawfully can have a valid driver’s license but simply does not have it, the maximum fine may only be the court assessment fee. It is also important to keep in mind that some people are exempt from the driver’s license requirement, such as military personnel.
At the same time, however, it is important to know that the above penalties are solely for the offense of driving without a valid license. The penalties are very different if you are caught driving on a suspended or a revoked driver’s license.
Understanding the Difference Between Driving Without a Valid Driver’s License and Driving With a Suspended License
Were you cited for driving without a valid driver’s license or driving on a license that has been suspended or revoked? While you might think that the two are the same thing—that driving without a valid license easily could mean that you are driving on a suspended license that is invalid due to the suspension—these are actually two very different offenses.
Florida law (Fla. Stat. § 322.34) defines driving while a license is suspended, revoked, canceled, or disqualified as an offense in which a person “drives a vehicle upon the highways of this state while such license or privilege is canceled, suspended, or revoked.”
The penalties for driving on a suspended, revoked, canceled, or disqualified license are as following:
- First offense: First-degree misdemeanor that includes a maximum fine of up to $500 and maximum jail time of up to 60 days;
- Second (or subsequent) offense: Third-degree felony that includes a maximum fine of up to $5,000 and a maximum prison sentence of up to five years.
Criminal Penalties Beyond a Monetary Fine
While most people think about the initial penalty associated with a misdemeanor traffic offense, such as a steep monetary fine, it is important to know that the penalties for a criminal traffic offense extend beyond simply paying a fine or serving a brief jail sentence. To be sure, if you are convicted of a misdemeanor traffic offense, you will have a criminal record. Having a criminal record can have far-reaching consequences. For example,
Defenses to Driving Without a Valid Driver’s License
If you are charged with driving without a valid driver’s license—as opposed to the offense of driving on a suspended or revoked license—there are numerous defenses that you may be able to assert with the help of an Orlando traffic defense attorney.
The advocates at our firm tailor our defense strategies to the specific needs of our clients, paying close attention to the facts of the case that led to the traffic offense. Examples of possible defenses to driving without a valid driver’s license in Florida include but are not limited to the following:
- You had a valid out-of-state driver’s license;
- You have a valid Florida driver’s license but did not have it with you when you were stopped;
- You were not driving on a public street or highway that requires you to have a valid driver’s license; or
- Law enforcement officer did not have reasonable suspicion required to stop you in the first place.
Did You Actually Need a Driver’s License?
It is possible that, even if you do not have a valid driver’s license, that you did not need one in order to operate the vehicle that resulted in your ticket. For example, the following persons may be exempt:
- Person operating farm machinery;
- Non-resident of Florida who is at least 18 years old and has a valid driver’s license from another state;
- Non-resident of Florida who is at least 16 years old and has a valid Class E driver’s license;
- Golf cart operator; and/or
- Certain military personnel.
Contact a Florida Traffic Defense Lawyer
Are you facing significant fines for driving without a valid driver’s license? You may be able to avoid the maximum fine altogether with the help of an experienced Florida traffic defense lawyer, particularly if you have not been subject to other traffic fines in the last year. Even if you are facing charges for driving on a suspended or a revoked driver’s license in Florida, it is still important to build a strong defense to avoid having a criminal record.
Contact Skubiak & Rivas, P.A. to speak with an aggressive traffic defense attorney today and to learn more about the services we provide to clients in Orlando and throughout Orange County.