All drivers in the state of California are required to have a valid driver’s license before they operate a motor vehicle. Drivers in Los Angeles that operate a car, truck, motorcycle, or van without a driver’s license can violate California Vehicle Code Section 12500: Driving Without a License.
The penalties for driving without a valid license can be incredibly harsh. You can find out more about the repercussions for a VC 12500 conviction and possible defenses for driving without a license from the Simmrin Law Group.
The Definition of Driving Without a License in Los Angeles
Drivers may be charged under VC 12500 if they:
- Operate a Motor Vehicle
- On a Highway
- Without a Valid California Driver’s Legend
For the purposes of VC 12500, a highway is any publicly maintained road that can be used by public vehicles. This includes streets. Note that California uses a broad definition for motor vehicles. Individuals can violate VC 12500 while operating a:
- Passenger Vehicle
- Tractor Trailer
- Commercial Vehicle
Exceptions to VC 12500
Some individuals are exempted from the requirement to operate vehicles with a valid California driver’s license. Visitors to the state who have valid driver’s licenses from another state or country should not be charged under VC 12500. 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
- Non-Residential Commercial Drivers with Valid Licenses from Other States or Canada
- Non-Residential Drivers with a Diplomatic Driver’s License
Examples of Driving Without a License
Driver A got a California driver’s license when he turned 18. However, he failed to renew his license when it expired. He was pulled over while driving on an expired license. He could be charged with driving without a license in Los Angeles.
Driver B moved to Los Angeles from Nebraska. She intended to get a California driver’s license, but it slipped her mind. Several months later, she was arrested and was unable to provide a valid driver’s license. The police officer charged her under VC 12500.
Penalties for Driving Without a License in Los Angeles
Courts in Los Angeles can heavily penalize individuals charged under VC 12500. Driving without a license can be treated as an infraction or a misdemeanor. An infraction charge will be less severe. Drivers convicted of an infraction could be faced with a fine of $250.
A misdemeanor charge must be treated more seriously. Misdemeanor convictions can lead to fines of $1,000 and a 6 months jail sentence.
Note that prosecutors may lower charges from a misdemeanor to an infraction if a driver works to get a valid driver’s license after being charged under VC 12500.
The state of California also uses several similar charges to prosecute individuals 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
Drivers should take any traffic violation charge seriously, as they can end up facing high fines, jail time, and the loss of their license.
Defenses for Vehicle Code Section 12500
Dealing with a charge for driving without a license can be difficult. Drivers who contact a professional criminal defense lawyer in Los Angeles will have a higher chance of beating these charges. A lawyer may be able to build a case by arguing:
You Have a Valid Driver’s License
Some drivers operate their vehicle after forgetting their license at home. You should not be charged under VC 12500 in this situation. Instead, you may be subject to the less severe charge of failing to present a driver’s license.
You Are Exempted 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 to be exempted from this charge.
Building a Criminal Defenses for a VC 12500 Charge
California Vehicle Code Section 12500: Driving Without a License can be a difficult charge to handle without professional legal help. The Simmrin Law Group understands the legal advice you need when facing this charge. Contact us for a FREE consultation to go over your legal options.
You can reach us by calling (310) 997- 4688 or completing our online contact form.