What Are the Risks of Driving in Georgia if You Do Not Have a Valid License?

Every state requires motorists to maintain a valid driver’s license in order to operate a vehicle on public roadways. The licensing system is meant to keep drivers safe and accountable for their actions, and motorists must have their licenses on them at all times while operating their vehicles. If you are stopped by law enforcement and cannot present them with a current, valid license, you can face serious legal consequences.

These penalties can be even harsher if you have previously had your license suspended or revoked for driving infractions. An experienced Georgia traffic violations lawyer can explain the punishment you could be exposed to for driving without a proper license.

What Penalties Could You Face for Driving Without a License or With a Suspended License?

Georgia takes driving offenses seriously. However, the severity of the punishment for driving without a valid license depends on many factors, including the status of your license, your prior record, and the circumstances of your arrest. Many individuals find themselves facing multiple charges because the invalid license was uncovered during the course of a traffic stop for another violation, such as a DWI or speeding.

The following are the basic penalties for each type of charge under Georgia law. But each case is different, so it is essential to seek the assistance of a knowledgeable defense attorney to understand the exact penalties you could be subjected to for your specific charges.

No License on Person

Sometimes drivers lose their licenses or forget them at home. If, for any reason, you are unable to present your license to an officer when it is requested, you can be charged with this misdemeanor offense. It carries a maximum fine of $1000 and up to a year in jail. However, if you can present a valid driver’s license to the court, the penalty is reduced to a maximum $10 fine.

Driving Without a Valid License

This charge can apply if your license is expired, you’ve never had a driver’s license, or you’ve failed to get a Georgia license after living in the state for more than 30 days. It is a misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail and a $1000 fine.

Driving With a Suspended, Revoked, or Restricted License

If you’ve been charged with prior driving offenses, such as an accrual of more than 15 points on your license in a 24-month period, the Georgia Department of Driver Services (DDS) can automatically suspend your license. The length of the suspension can vary based on the circumstances. If you continue to drive following your suspension or revocation or fail to take the proper steps to reinstate your license after the time is up, you can face severe penalties. The exact consequences are based on how many offenses you’ve had in a five-year period.

First Offense

There is a mandatory minimum penalty for a first offense of two days in jail and a $500 fine, up to a maximum of a year in jail and a $1000 fine. You will also have your license suspension extended by six months.

Second or Third Offense

For further offenses, the charge increases to a higher level of misdemeanor, punishable by ten days to twelve months in jail and a fine between $1000 and $2500. Each subsequent offense adds another six months to your suspension and increases the reinstatement fees you must pay to get your license back.

Fourth Offense

If you have four or more violations within five years, you are considered a habitual offender and will face a felony charge. If convicted, you can spend one to five years in prison and must pay between $2500 to $5000 in fines. Additionally, there are long-term consequences to having a felony conviction on your record, such as difficulties obtaining employment, owning a firearm, or receiving federal aid for housing or college.

How Can You Avoid These Consequences?

While a skilled criminal defense attorney can evaluate your case and identify strategies for fighting your charges, preventing the violations is the best method to avoid Georgia’s strict penalties.

Steps you can take to prevent a charge of driving without a valid license include:

  • Promptly pay tickets for traffic violations: It can be tempting to ignore fines for minor traffic violations, but if you do not handle them properly, you may accumulate enough points on your license to trigger a suspension.
  • Avoid getting caught in the suspension cycle: Every subsequent offense adds six months or more to your suspension period. Driving while suspended is not worth the risk. Ask friends or family members for rides until you can get your license back.
  • Find out how to get your license reinstated: Your license does not automatically become valid after your suspension period ends. You must take specific steps and pay fees to get it back. Contact the Georgia DDS or our law firm for assistance with license reinstatement.

How Can Our Lawyers Help You?

Driving is integral to most people’s lives. It allows you to get to work, visit family, and do other necessary daily tasks. Losing your driving privileges for an extended time can be a major blow, and the further impact of fines and possible jail time on your life can be challenging to overcome. If you or a loved one are facing charges for driving without a license, it is crucial to seek the services of a seasoned criminal defense advocate as soon as possible to explore your legal options.

Depending on the circumstances, your legal team may be able to get your charges dismissed or reduced. However, quick action is vital because deadlines in these cases can be short. Contact Sessoms Law Group today at 678-853-7402 to speak with a skilled Georgia defense attorney.