Drivers in California must maintain a valid driver’s license to legally operate a motor vehicle. Drivers must also keep this license with them when operating their vehicle, and they must present it if it is requested by a law enforcement officer.
Individuals who do not present their license may be charged under California Vehicle Code Section 12951: Failing to Present a Driver’s License. The Simmrin Law Group help you go over this charge. You can use this article to focus on:
- The Legal Definition of VC 12951
- The Penalties for a VC 12951 Conviction
- The Legal Defenses for VC 12951 Accusations
Defining California Vehicle Code Section 12951
There are two aspects to VC 12951. These two sections of the legal code cover different acts. You can review them both right here:
VC 12951(a) can be used to prosecute individuals who have a legally issued driver’s license and:
- Operate a Motor Vehicle
- Without Physically Possessing Their Driver’s License
Drivers in this situation will be unable to present their driver’s license if stopped by law enforcement officers, at which point they can face criminal charges.
Drivers can be charged under VC 12951(b) if they have physical possession of their driver’s license when they are pulled over and still refuse to show it to a law enforcement officer for any reason.
Note that California uses a broad definition for motor vehicles. Drivers must have a license to operate standard vehicles such as cars, trucks, motorcycles, and vans. The state also requires drivers to keep a license on their person when operating:
- Commercial Vehicles
- Tractor Trailers
Repercussions for Failing to Present a Driver’s License
The two aspects of VC 12951 are prosecuted differently in California’s court system. You can go over the differences in sentencing right here.
Penalties for a VC 12951(a) Charge
Individuals charged with VC 12951(a) will face an infraction. Infractions are generally not considered criminal acts. However, a conviction can still lead to fines of up to $250. You should be aware that these charges may be dismissed if a driver can produce a license that was valid during the arrest.
You should also be aware that if an individual is charged with VC 12951(a) violations three or more times, the judge is no longer required to dismiss the charges, even if a driver’s license can be produced.
Penalties for a VC 12951(b) Charge
VC 12951(b) violations are considered misdemeanor-level charges in California. This means that the penalties will be harsher if a driver has their license and simply refuses to show it. The penalties for a VC 12951(b) conviction can include:
- Fines of Up to $1,000
- Jail Time of Up to 6 Months
These charges cannot be dismissed if a driver produces their license in the courtroom.
Charges Similar to Failing to Present a Driver’s License
Drivers in California can face criminal charges if they do not treat a police stop seriously. In addition to facing charges for failing to present a driver’s license, individuals in California could be charged under:
- California Vehicle Code Section 20: Providing False Statements to the DMV or CHP
- California Vehicle Code Section 31: False Information to a Peace Officer
- California Vehicle Code Section 2800: Disobeying a Peace Officer
- California Vehicle Code Section 12500: Driving Without A License
- California Vehicle Code Section 14601: Driving On A Suspended Or Revoked License
Drivers in California are also legally forbidden from operating a motor vehicle without insurance. Drivers who are pulled over will have to present insurance information along with their license and vehicle registration.
Possible Defenses for VC 12951 Accusations in California
You have legal options if you are charged under VC 12951. A criminal defense lawyer in Los Angeles can help take on these charges today. Your lawyer may be able to work aggressively to show that:
You Had Your Driver’s License
As we mentioned, VC 12951(a) charges may be dismissed if you can prove that you had a valid license at the time you were charged. However, this dismissal is only guaranteed the first two times you are charged under VC 12951(a).
You Weren’t Stopped for a Valid Reason
Police officers in California are not supposed to stop drivers without reasonable cause. If your lawyer can dispute the legality of your traffic stop, you may be able to beat VC 12951 charges.
Take on VC 12951 Charges with a Legal Professional
You can increase your chances of beating a California Vehicle Code Section 12951: Failing to Present a Driver’s License charge by contacting a criminal defense lawyer in Los Angeles right away. The Simmrin Law Group can begin going over your legal options now. Just call us at (310) 997-4688 or fill out our online contact form.
You can start focusing on your defense now with a FREE case evaluation.