What is Driving Without a License?

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  • Written By: Lainie Petersen
  • Edited By: Melissa Wiley
  • Last Modified Date: 20 December 2019
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Driving without a license refers to someone operating a motor vehicle without a driver’s license issued by a pertinent licensing authority. In many places, driving without a license is a crime punishable by various legal penalties, including fines, possible jail time, and the potential to lose the ability to hold a driver’s license for a period of time. Depending on the circumstances and the laws of a given jurisdiction, the crime of driving without a license may be defined as a licensed driver who fails to bring his license with him while driving, someone who does not have a license driving a vehicle, or the operation of a car by someone whose driver’s license has been suspended by the authorities.

In many places, driving a motor vehicle on a public road requires licensure. An individual who wishes to drive must obtain a license, typically from a government agency that specializes in licensing vehicles and drivers. In the United States, individual state agencies assume this licensing function and are often known as a Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) or something similar. A driver’s license is typically issued only to people who meet local driving age requirements and who have passed both a written exam and an actual driving test.


Throughout the United States and in many other countries, drivers are expected to carry their licenses with them when they drive. They are also expected to show their license to law enforcement officers when requested. If an individual drives without having her license available, this may be considered driving without a license and result in some type of penalty for the driver. Drivers who drive cars or other motor vehicles without holding a license may face stiffer penalties than the driver who simply forgets his license at home. Particularly if combined with other driving violations, this form of driving without a license can result in more severe penalties than those for licensed drivers who simply forget their license at home.

A common penalty for driving violations is the suspension or revocation of a driver’s license. For many people, this penalty is particularly difficult and damaging, as there are many people who live in places where driving is necessary to get to their work, shops, and places of entertainment. If an individual drives when his license is suspended, the suspension may be lengthened, the individual may face jail time, and, in some instances, the driver’s license may be permanently revoked.


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Post 2

@Grivusangel -- I've had a friend or two like that -- the kind whom you can trace back to talking you into nearly every stupid thing you've ever done. Yep. Sounds familiar.

I was dating this guy and we got pulled over one night. Turned out, unbeknownst to me, his license had been revoked like two years before. We were in a shopping center parking lot and it wasn't late, and I called a friend to come and get me. I had no intention of staying in the car with him. He lied to me and I wasn't going to put up with that. And he acted like I was the one who was behaving badly!

Post 1

Except for unusual circumstances, driving without a license is stupid. Case in point on "unusual." I was with a friend and she got drunk. I was sober. I could drive, but I didn't have a license yet, and figured it was better to get pulled over for that than for her to get a DUI. These were in the dark ages before cell phones, and we didn't have money for a cab.

Thank goodness, we didn't get pulled over, but she was yowling the whole time about "her insurance" and I very angrily told her that her insurance company would far rather an unlicensed driver get behind the wheel than a drunk!

I was just sure every police officer in the county was hunting for us, but we made it back to her house without incident. I walked home.

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