California requires all drivers to have a valid driver’s license before operating a motor vehicle with California Vehicle Code Section 12500: Driving Without a License.
The penalties for driving without a valid license can be incredibly harsh. You can learn more about the repercussions of a VC 12500 conviction and possible defenses for driving without a license from our team at the Simmrin Law Group.
Can You Drive Without a License in California?
Generally, all individuals require a license before legally operating a vehicle. In fact, drivers may face charges under California Vehicle Code Section 12500: Driving Without a License if they:
- Operate a motor vehicle
- On a highway
- Without a valid California driver’s license
For the purposes of VC 12500, a highway is any publicly maintained road used by public vehicles, including streets. California uses broad terms to define what qualifies as a motor vehicle. Individuals can violate VC 12500 while operating a:
- Passenger vehicle
- Commercial vehicle
Operating any of these vehicles without a license can lead to criminal charges.
For a free legal consultation with a driving without a license lawyer serving California, call (310) 896-2723
What Happens if You Get Caught Driving Without a License in California?
If you get caught driving with your license in California, you can expect the police officer to issue you a ticket. Depending upon the facts of your case, the officer may treat the situation as an infraction or a misdemeanor.
Typically, police officers do not take you to jail for driving without a license. However, your ticket will contain information about fines and court dates. Refusing to pay the fines or attend court-mandated meetings can have additional legal repercussions.
California Driving Without a License Lawyer Near Me (310) 896-2723
What Are the Penalties of Driving Without a License?
Courts in Los Angeles can heavily penalize individuals charged under California Vehicle Code Section 12500: Driving Without a License. If you drive without a valid license, it can be treated as either an infraction or a misdemeanor.
An infraction charge will be less severe. Drivers convicted of an infraction could end up faced with a fine of $250. The court treats a misdemeanor charge more seriously. Misdemeanor convictions can lead to fines of $1,000 and a six months jail sentence.
A prosecutor can lower your charges from a misdemeanor to an infraction. You must work to get a valid driver’s license after being charged under VC 12500 if you hope to have your charges reduced.
Can My Car Get Impounded for Driving Without a License in California?
VC 12500 charges can allow the police to impound your vehicle in some situations. Generally, the police impound your vehicle only if you have a prior conviction on your record.
If the police impound your vehicle, they may keep it for up to 30 days. Generally, you have to pay a fee to the impound lot to get your vehicle back afterward.
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Can You Refuse to Show Your License When Pulled Over?
Some drivers in California try to avoid California Vehicle Code Section 12500: Driving Without a License by refusing to provide a driver’s license after getting pulled over. However, you should know that refusal to show your license counts as a criminal offense.
Drivers can face charges under California Vehicle Code Section 12951 in this situation. A VC 12951 conviction can result in:
- Fines of up to $1,000
- Jail time of up to six months
Therefore, the experts do not recommend trying to avoid a VC 12500 accusation by refusing to show the police your driver’s license.
Are There Exceptions to Driving Without a License Charges?
Some people are exempted from the requirement to hold a valid California driver’s license to operate vehicles. Visitors to the state who have valid driver’s licenses from another state or country should not face charges under California Vehicle Code Section 12500: Driving Without a License.
Other drivers exempt from VC 12500 include:
- Government employees or officers operating a government vehicle
- Drivers of off-highway vehicles that cross a public road
- Farm equipment operators driving off public roads
- Drivers of non-residential commercial vehicles who hold valid licenses from another state or Canada
- Non-residential drivers with a diplomatic driver’s license
A lawyer can help you review all exemptions to VC 12500 charges.
When Do You Need a License After Moving to California?
As we mentioned, California may exempt you from VC 12500 charges if you do not require a California license. However, you must request a driver’s license from the state within 10 days of officially becoming a resident.
You become a California resident when you:
- Pay tuition as a resident
- Vote in a state election
- File for a property tax exemption as a homeowner
- Receive any other benefit offered only to residents
Additionally, you must obtain a California driver’s license before driving as part of your job in the state. This regulation applies to individuals who work as delivery drivers and subcontractors for companies like Uber or Lyft.
Does California Have Other Charges Like Driving Without a License?
California also uses a variety of similar charges to prosecute drivers for driver’s license violations. These charges can include:
- California Vehicle Code Section 12951: Failing to Present Driver’s License
- California Vehicle Code Section 14601: Driving on a Suspended or Revoked License
You must take any traffic violation charge seriously, as they can result in high fines, jail time, and the loss of driving privileges.
Can Lawyers Defend You From VC 12500 Charges?
Handing a charge for driving without a license can be tricky. Drivers who work with a criminal defense lawyer in Los Angeles have better odds of beating the charges. An attorney may be able to defend you by arguing:
You Have a Valid Driver’s License
Some drivers operate their vehicles after forgetting their license at home. You should not face charges under VC 12500 in this situation. Instead, you may face the less severe charge of failing to present your driver’s license.
You Have an Exemption From Having a California Driver’s License
Out-of-state drivers, diplomats, and other drivers exempted from VC 12500 should not be charged with driving without a license. A lawyer may be able to help prove that you meet the requirements for exemption from this charge.
Build a Criminal Defenses for a VC 12500 Charge With Us
Charges for driving without a license can be difficult to manage on your own. The Simmrin Law Group can offer you legal advice to fight this charge. Contact us for a FREE consultation to go over your legal options.
You can reach us by calling us or completing our online contact form.