Yes, drivers caught driving without a valid driver's license in Los Angeles can be charged with a crime. California Vehicle Code section 12500 makes it illegal and a misdemeanor to drive a motor vehicle without a valid license in your possession. If you are charged and convicted of a misdemeanor it will be on your criminal record. Driving without a license can also be charged as an infraction depending on the law enforcement agency that issues the citation.
The requirement you possess a valid driver's license does not mean it has to be a California driver's license. Any valid license from another state or country is acceptable if you are only visiting and not permanently residing in Los Angeles. California law requires drivers to apply for a California driver's license within 10 days of establishing residency. California residency is usually determined by a person's intent to remain in Los Angeles or California. A person attending college or a university or someone permanently employed in Los Angeles or California is usually considered a resident and will have to apply for a California driver's license.
Penalties For Driving Without A License
The penalties for a misdemeanor conviction of driving without a license include:
- 3 years of informal probation;
- Fines of up to $1000;
- Towing and impound of the car that the unlicensed person was driving;
- Possible jail time (up to 6 months in county jail) although it is rare.
If driving without a license is charged as an infraction, there is a fine of $250. There is no probation and it is not considered a criminal offense.
How A Lawyer Can Help You
Since violations of license requirements can result in criminal misdemeanor convictions, it is important to work closely with an experienced criminal defense attorney who may help you reduce your charges to an infraction or dismissed altogether.
California Law (AB 60) also allows undocumented immigrants, who drive in Los Angeles and meet all the requirements for a license other than proof of legal residence, to obtain a valid California Driver's license.
The lawyers at Stephen G. Rodriguez & Partners have many years of experience helping clients avoid convictions for driving without a license. Our strategies include: giving our clients time to obtain a license (if they don't have one) and returning to court to show the prosecutor proof of a driver's license and get the charges dismissed or reduced to an infraction and a small fine. We understand the legal system and use effective strategies to obtain the best possible results for our clients.
Call the Law Offices of Stephen G. Rodriguez & partners for a free consultation and learn how we can help you!