At a traffic stop, the police officer will routinely ask for your driver’s license and your vehicle registration, to prove that you are legally allowed to drive, and to confirm that the vehicle you’re in actually belongs to you. Driving is a privilege, not a right, and as such, people who drive must have a valid driver’s license for the state in which they live. Licenses are issued to those who meet the home state’s age requirement and who have passed any and all applicable tests required by the state’s agency that administers licensing of drivers. While it’s typically not an issue for most drivers to whip out their wallets and show off their state-issued license, what happens if you’re driving without one?
There are a few scenarios in which you could be driving without your license, and each scenario has a specific set of consequences and penalties that are listed below:
You have a license, but you don’t have it on you at the time that you are pulled over.
Whether you forgot your license at home or you lost your wallet, when you’re pulled over, you don’t have proof that you are licensed to drive. Typically, charges for this scenario can be dismissed once you provide proof that you were in possession of a valid license at the time of your traffic stop. This is the unusual offense that you can remedy by showing your valid driver’s license on the date of your court appearance, but you may be assessed court costs even if the charge is dismissed.
You never had a valid license.
If you never applied for a valid New Jersey driver’s license, and you’re caught driving anyway, you could face fines up to $500, or be sent to jail for up to 60 days. Additionally, you will be unable to apply for a driver’s license for up to 180 days following the offense, and you may have 4 points assessed onto your license.
Your license has been suspended, revoked, or otherwise restricted.
If you’re driving with a license that has been restricted due to an infraction, and you’re pulled over, you could be fined from $1,200 to $2,000, and you could even spend a year behind bars. The severity of your penalties will be influenced by the reason that your license was suspended or revoked. The majority of license suspensions are a result of reckless driving, speeding, driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or other serious traffic violations that jeopardize the safety of those around you.
You allow an unlicensed driver to use your car.
Even if you have a valid license, and you’re not driving, you can still be penalized if you let someone who does not have a license use your car, with fines up to $500. You could also be held responsible for any damages or injuries caused by the unlicensed driver if he or she gets into an accident.
Whatever the Charge, Consult a New Jersey Criminal Defense Lawyer
No matter which scenario covers your traffic stop, if you don’t have your license on you when you’re pulled over, you could be facing penalties that may impede your ability to drive in the future. To discuss the circumstances of your case, contact Scott Gorman, a prominent criminal defense attorney, at The Gorman Law Firm today. We have offices in Essex County and Morristown.
Published in Categories: Criminal Defense, DUI / DWI