Is It Illegal To Drive Without Your License On You?

Lou Pendas

Legally reviewed by Lou Pendas on December 6, 2022 Lou Pendas is a member of the 1-800-Injured network.

If you’ve ever been pulled over, you may be aware of the brief moment of panic as you wonder if you forgot your driver’s license. Even though it’s an honest mistake, driving without a license is still against the law in most states. Depending on the state and situation, you can face fines or even jail time if caught driving without your license.

It’s important to remember that not having your driver’s license with you doesn’t mean that it doesn’t exist — it just means that you don’t have it on you. When pulled over, drivers must be able to prove their identity and show a valid license or permit. Most states require you to carry your driver’s license with you when driving, so if an officer pulls you over, they can ask for it.

Read more below to learn about driving without your license on your person, but don’t forget — driving without a driver’s license is different than driving without having it in your possession. One is a mistake, and the other is a willful violation of the law that can land you in some serious legal trouble. That being said, no matter the situation, it’s always a good idea to speak with an experienced car accident attorney if you’re facing any kind of driving-related charges.

What Happens If You Get Caught Driving Without Your License?

Penalties for driving without your license vary from state to state, and they may even depend on the circumstances. In some cases, you may just face a ticket and a small fine. But in other cases, it could be considered a misdemeanor offense that could land you in jail. The officer may have your vehicle towed if nobody in the car can produce a valid driver’s license, so even if they decide not to cite you for leaving it at home, it could still be both costly and time consuming as you deal with the impound lot.

The best way to avoid all this hassle is to make sure you always have your license with you whenever you drive. As long as you can prove that you are a licensed driver, then it won’t be too much of an issue if you find yourself in a situation where the police ask for it. It’s also important to keep your license up to date and valid, as expired driver’s licenses can cause serious problems, too.

What to Do If You Are In a Car Accident and Forgot your Driver’s License

After an accident, there is a lot of anxiety, adrenaline, and pain that you may need to deal with while you are trying to figure out the situation. When you go to exchange your information with the other driver, you may find yourself in a panic if you realize that you forgot your wallet or purse at home — but don’t worry!

If you realize that you didn’t have your license with you during the accident, it’s okay. Talk to the other driver and explain the situation, while being careful not to make any statements that may be misconstrued as you admitting fault for the crash. Stay completely objective.

Just explain that you left your license at home and that you will send them your license number when you get back. While it may be illegal to drive without your license on you, that did not contribute to the causes of the accident. This mishap shouldn’t be able to be used against you.

The most important thing is to stay calm, be polite, and show the other driver that you are taking the situation seriously. If all else fails, the police may be able to look up your driving record in their database when they arrive on the scene.

Can I Drive With an Expired License?

No, you cannot drive with an expired license. Driving with an expired license is a serious offense, and you could be charged with a misdemeanor if you are caught. Once the expiration date passes, you effectively do not have a driver’s license. Make sure that your driver’s license is always up to date and valid — renew it before it expires so that you don’t risk ending up in legal trouble.

What If You Have Misplaced Your License?

If you have lost your license, you will need to replace it as soon as possible. You can visit the DMV website for your state to get more information about how you can do this. In some cases, you may be able to request a replacement online or even pick one up in person. 

Make sure that you follow all the instructions set out by your state to prevent any legal issues that could arise from driving without a license.

Final Thoughts

Driving without your license could have serious legal consequences, so it’s important to be aware of the laws in your state and make sure you always carry your license with you when you drive. If you do find yourself in an unfortunate situation where you are driving without your license, stay calm and explain your situation to the other driver or the police. In some cases, they may be able to look up your information in their database. Make sure that you have a valid, up-to-date license so that you don’t risk any legal trouble.

In the event that you forget or misplace your license, remain calm and explain the situation to anyone who might need this information. Follow the instructions for replacing or renewing your license to stay within the boundaries of legal driving in your state. With a valid driver’s license, you can drive with confidence.

And remember — if you are in a car accident, one of the best things you can do is connect with a personal injury attorney who can help you build a case and fight for the money you deserve. 1-800-Injured is an attorney and medical referral service that can make the process of finding a lawyer easy. Contact us right away to get started today.