Having no valid driver's license is a serious problem.
If you get pulled over, you're probably worried about fines and more.
Fortunately, Skubiak & Rivas, P.A. can help.
They are experienced Florida traffic ticket lawyers, and they know what you're up against.
Driving without a License Ticket Florida
Being able to drive is an enormous privilege, allowing you to get to and from work or school and to run necessary errands. We completely understand why many people feel that they need to drive even if they have never obtained a driver license in Florida.
However, driving without a license is a criminal offense in this state. There is just no valid reason for not getting a license so that you can drive legally. Some people cannot get a license because they are too young or they don’t have the money, but those excuses won’t fly.
If police pick you up for driving without a license, you need a traffic attorney to help you handle the charges. Please give us a call.
Section 322.03 of the Florida Statutes explains that drivers must have a license to operate a vehicle in Florida. If you get picked up and do not have your license on you, you can present the license to the clerk of court before your hearing date. You then might have to pay a very small fee ($5) to have your case dismissed.
Driving without a license is a second-degree misdemeanor that carries as punishment up to 60 days in jail and a fine of $500. However, penalties will increase if you continue to drive without getting a valid Florida license:
- If police catch you again, they will charge you with Driving While License Suspended or Revoked with knowledge. It is a second-degree misdemeanor.
- A subsequent offense could be a first-degree misdemeanor.
- When you get three Driving While License Suspended or Revoked convictions in a 5—year period, you will have your license revoked as a habitual traffic offender.
As you can see, it is important to get your license as soon as possible. Any more violations could eventually cause you to lose your license for a long period of time.
Visitors to Florida
If you are visiting the state, then you are not covered by the law. Instead, section 322.04 exempts certain people from the requirement, such as employees of the U.S. Government and people who drive farm vehicles temporarily on the highway.
The law also exempts non-residents who have a valid non-commercial license issued from another jurisdiction, such as another state in the country. So if you are driving down to Florida from Michigan, you do not need to get a Florida license just to visit Disney World!
But what about someone who has just moved to the state and intends to stay here? According to the state’s Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, you might be able to convert the out-of-state license into a Florida license. You will need to submit appropriate identification to the office and get insurance from a company licensed in Florida. Any non-resident who accepts a job in Florida or places their children in a Florida school has 30 days to obtain a state license. After that point, you are illegally driving here.
A Special Note for Foreign Nationals
Florida’s law has recently changed. It now only requires that foreigners have a license that is valid in their country. Previously, the law required that foreign nationals have the International Driving Permit in order to operate a vehicle on the state’s roads. As a result, anyone who did not have this permit could be convicted.
Although the law has changed, some prosecutors do not keep up with the developments. It is entirely possible for a foreign national to still be charged for driving without a license simply because they do not have the International Driving Permit.
If this happens to you, reach out to an attorney right away. You should be able to get this case thrown out of court simply be pointing out to the judge how the law has changed and presenting your valid driver’s license.
The Good News
The good news is that a conviction for driving without a license does not count towards the Habitual Traffic Offender count. However, all subsequent arrests for driving without a license probably will, so you need to be careful. One arrest probably will not cause you too much pain.
Remember, judges have discretion about the punishment that they impose. If this is your first criminal offense of any kind, you can probably get away with paying a fine and avoiding even one night in jail. This is why you need an experienced traffic attorney in your corner. He or she can help convince the judge to give a light punishment, allowing you to avoid having to miss work or time with your family.
The Bad News
Any criminal conviction, even a misdemeanor, can follow you around for the rest of your life. With the rise of the Internet, criminal convictions are now public. With a couple clicks of the mouse, someone can find out about your criminal history.
Increasingly, employers and landlords are also asking whether their applicants have criminal convictions, including for misdemeanors like driving without a license. If you lie, the employer/landlord will probably find out. They’ll pay to run a criminal history check, and they can reject you if they find out you have a criminal history. Add lying about your criminal history on top of it, and you surely will face rejection.
Criminal convictions also come into play when our clients apply to college, try to obtain professional licenses, or apply for a loan. The collateral consequences of a conviction are often worse than a few nights in jail and a $500 fine.
Get Trusted Legal Advice
If police stop you for driving without a license, you need an experienced attorney to look out for your rights. It is possible to raise different defenses to these charges, such as challenge the legality of the traffic stop or identifying gaps in the evidence that creates reasonable doubt.
Contact us right away. At Skubiak & Rivas, we have pioneered in this area of law and have been local leaders for over 25 years. We offer a free initial case review to anyone who calls or sends us an online message. Avoid delay. Call 407-894-4449 for a free consultation.