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What happens if you drive without a valid license in Florida?

On Behalf of | May 11, 2023 | Traffic Violations |

A driver’s license is more than just another form of personal identification. It proves the owner is legally authorized to drive a motor vehicle. Driving a motor vehicle anywhere in the U.S. without the proper license is illegal and a license-less driver could face criminal penalties if police pull them over.

Possible license-related infractions

Drivers can get into trouble with Florida’s police if their license status is one of the following:

  • They currently don’t have their licenses: Whether they have yet to apply for a license or forgot to bring the I.D. before getting behind the wheel, drivers could get into trouble if an officer requests the permit and drivers cannot produce one.
  • An expired license: A driver’s license needs renewal every eight years in Florida. If it expires, it’s no longer valid and can’t be used as a license.
  • A suspended or revoked license: An earlier traffic violation, such as driving under the influence, could get a person’s license suspended or revoked.
  • Out-of-state license: Normally, non-residents of Florida can present their valid licenses if they drive through the state. But those who move to Florida must get a Florida license within 30 days, and their older license will not be honored. In these cases, officers will treat the driver as if they had no license.

Penalties for license infractions

Each license infraction has a corresponding penalty:

  • No license: The driver might get a warning or a citation – driving without a license is a second-degree misdemeanor and will appear on a driver’s criminal record. The officer might also issue the driver a ticket. Anyone caught driving without a license in Florida is also given an ID number, and about 214,000 license-less driver IDs have been issued.
  • Expired license: Drivers can face up to 60 days in jail, a $500 fine, and up to six months of probation if caught driving with an expired license.
  • Suspended or revoked license: Drivers caught with a suspended or revoked license for the first time will get a “no valid” license charge. But if the police pull them over again, authorities will charge the motorist with driving while license suspended or revoked (DWLSR). The first DWLSR offense is a second-degree misdemeanor, but succeeding charges can go as high as a third-degree felony.

Drivers cited for license-related infractions may be asked to appear in court to defend against the charge. When this happens, they might want to seek help from a lawyer with experience in handling traffic violation cases. A lawyer can help defend drivers’ rights and possibly reduce any convictions they might receive.