Mark Roman | April 22, 2023 | Florida Law
Florida motorists must have a valid driver’s license to drive legally. Of course, if you forget your license at home, it’s a minor offense that doesn’t carry significant consequences. On the other hand, driving without owning a license entirely is a crime that carries severe penalties.
It’s important to know the difference between these offenses so you can avoid legal consequences and hefty fines.
Driving Without a License on Your Person
It can be nerve-racking to realize you left your driver’s license at home or work. You might imagine yourself being caught and facing hefty fines. However, if you’re pulled over and found to be driving without a license even though you legally possess one, it’s considered a “correctable offense,” much like if you were to be pulled over for driving with a burned-out headlight.
In these cases, the police officer may still issue you a citation. But the good news is that it can usually be dismissed. If you can prove to the court that you have a valid driver’s license, the charge may be dismissed, and you may only need to pay a small processing fee.
However, failure to provide proof of a valid license can result in a misdemeanor conviction.
It’s certainly a lesser offense than driving without a license entirely. After all, the individual has demonstrated their ability to operate a vehicle safely and legally but simply does not have the physical license with them. But it’s important nonetheless to have your license with you when driving.
Driving Without a License
On the other hand, driving without owning a certified license is a major traffic infraction. If you don’t have a license, there is no guarantee that you studied the material required by the Florida DMV and therefore have the knowledge to drive safely. Drivers without a license may lack the necessary knowledge and skills to safely operate a vehicle, increasing the risk of accidents and injuries.
Therefore, to protect Florida roads and discourage unlicensed drivers from putting others at risk, driving without a license carries severe legal consequences.
Under Florida law, driving without a license is considered to be a second-degree misdemeanor, and the penalties can include the following:
- Up to 60 days in jail
- Up to six months of probation
- Court fees up to $500
- Vehicle impoundment
- Suspension of future driving privileges
The penalties become more severe if an individual is found guilty of driving without a license multiple times, if they had a license but it was suspended or revoked, or if they caused injuries due to a crash.
Remember to Always Drive Licensed
If you’ve lost your license at home, don’t worry — simply return home and retrieve it. Even if you were to be pulled over on the way, it’s unlikely that you’d face any consequences beyond driving to the courthouse and paying a nominal processing fee.
If you’ve lost your license, get a replacement as soon as possible. If your license has been suspended or revoked, you must wait the required time and reacquire your license at a later date.
Finally, if you don’t yet have your license, remember that it’s not worth the risk of getting behind the wheel and putting others at risk. Take the time to study, apply for a license, and take the required test. It’s the best way to protect yourself and others and to keep yourself out of trouble.
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