Like every other state, California requires you to carry a valid driver’s license with you when driving. Failure to do so is a misdemeanor punishable by up to six months in jail or a $500 fine.
People drive without a license for various reasons. Perhaps you were in a rush and forgot to bring it along. Or maybe you did not have a license at the moment (or a restricted license) and drove anyway. If it was the former, the officer who pulled you over might give you a break and write you a “fix-it” ticket. This would give you the chance to bring your license to traffic court to show the judge that you were licensed to drive but made a mistake. The judge might dismiss the citation in response.
If you Drove with an Expired License, Police Decide if it’s “Willful or Not”
However, if the police officer claims you willfully drove without a valid license, you could face a fine and even jail time as detailed above. There could be another unexpected consequence. In California, the police might impound your vehicle for 30 days. Other states have their own unique ways of punishing driving without a license. Washington State allows judges to send an offender to jail as a “habitual offender” after two convictions. And in Illinois, the court can suspend your license for up to two months for a first offense.
An Expired California Driver’s License can Lead to a Serious Ticket
As you can see, a ticket for driving without a license should not be ignored. Confronting the charge can help you preserve your driving privileges and avoid unjust punishment. A conversation with a defense attorney who handles traffic violations can be useful.