What Happens When You Drive Without a License in VA?

Like the rest of the country, the State of Virginia requires that motorists have the appropriate license to operate their vehicle. If you drive a motor vehicle without a valid driver’s license, you face serious penalties. Unlike a traffic infraction, driving without a license is a criminal offense punishable by costly fines and even jail time. Many people are shocked by the severity of the charges and find themselves at the mercy of the criminal justice system.

If you are arrested for driving without a license in Virginia, cooperate with law enforcement and ask to speak with a lawyer. An experienced criminal defense attorney can assess your case, identify a clear path forward, and ensure your rights are protected at every turn.

How is driving without a license classified?

Driving without a license is a misdemeanor offense. Unlike felony offenses — serious crimes punishable by confinement of more than a year in a state prison —  misdemeanor offenses are penalized by up to a year in jail. In addition to incarceration and fines, if convicted, you will have a criminal record. This alone can have severe repercussions on employment and education opportunities.

Below are the charges you face if you are arrested for driving without a license in Virginia:

  1. Class 2 misdemeanor — For your first offense of driving without a license, you will be charged with a class 2 misdemeanor. This carries a penalty of 6 months in jail and up to $1,000 fines.
  2. Class 1 misdemeanor — If you are arrested for a second or third offense, you will face up to a year in jail and up to $2,500 in fines.

If convicted of either of these offenses, the court can suspend your driving privilege for up to 90 days.

Virginia statute on driving without a license

According to Virginia § 46.2-300, “No person, except those expressly exempted …shall drive any motor vehicle on any highway in the Commonwealth until such person has applied for a driver’s license, as provided in this article, satisfactorily passed the examination required by §and obtained a driver’s license, nor unless the license is valid.” In certain cases, nonresidents, new Virginia residents, and military service members may legally drive a motor vehicle in Virginia without a license. For more information, consult a knowledgeable attorney.

Contact a respected Fairfax criminal defense lawyer today

The NoVa Law Firm delivers top tier defense counsel to clients throughout Northern Virginia. Whether you face charges for driving without a license or DUI, we fight aggressively to protect your rights. To discuss your case with an experienced criminal law attorney, call (703) 352-9347 or contact us online.  

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About the Author: Eric Clingan

About the Author: Eric Clingan

Eric Clingan is an experienced Criminal Defense attorney and the founder of the NoVA Law firm. He focuses his practice on defending residents of Northern Virginia charged with DUIs, reckless driving, drug charges, and other criminal accusations

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