Have you been ticketed under California Vehicle Code §12951(a)? If you have been accused of failing to present a valid driver’s license, the penalties could be more severe than you thought.
Although California Vehicle Code §12951(a) is not a violent criminal offense, that does not mean you could not face adverse consequences. Get help clearing your name of the allegations against you when you contact a California criminal defense attorney and discuss the specific details of your failing to present a driver’s license case.
What Is CA Vehicle Code §12951?
Under California Vehicle Code §12951, it is an infraction to drive without possession of your driver’s license. You can also face misdemeanor criminal charges under California Vehicle Code Section 12951(a) if you refuse to provide law enforcement officers with your driver’s license should they make such a request.
Under the law, you are required to retain possession of your valid driver’s license anytime you are driving a vehicle on a highway. To obtain a conviction, the state’s prosecutor will need to show that the elements of the offense have been met as follows:
- The defendant was driving a motor vehicle
- A law enforcement officer requested the defendant provide them with their valid driver’s license
- The defendant refused to comply with the police officer’s request and did not provide them with their driver’s license for examination
Consequences of a Conviction Under CA Vehicle Code §12951
If you are found guilty under California Vehicle Code Section 12951(a), the penalties could be more severe than you thought. Driving without possession of your driver’s license is an infraction, punishable by a fine of up to $250.
However, if you refuse to provide police officers with your driver’s license, you could face criminal misdemeanor charges, punishable by a fine as high as $1,000 and as much as six months in county jail.
It is possible that you could be sentenced to probation in lieu of jail time, depending on the specific details of your case. Your attorney can closely evaluate your criminal record and the details of your arrest to determine the severity of the consequences you are facing and how to best approach your defense strategy.
Offenses Related to CA Vehicle Code §12951
There are multiple offenses related to California Vehicle Code §12951(a). Some of the more common types of charges you could be facing include:
- Resisting arrest under California PC §148 – When you delay, resist, or obstruct the police in their official duties, you could be charged with resisting arrest. This is a misdemeanor offense, punishable by as much as one year in county jail and fines as high as $1000.
- Driving without a license under California VC §12500 – Driving without a license will typically be prosecuted as a traffic violation as opposed to a criminal offense. You could face this infraction if you were previously unlicensed, failed to obtain your California resident driver’s license, or failed to renew your existing driver’s license.
- Providing false identification to a police officer under California PC §148.9 – You could be accused of providing false identification to police when police believe you intentionally did so. If you are charged with a misdemeanor, you could be facing up to six months in jail if you are convicted.
How to Defend Yourself Against VC §12951 Charges
Challenging the allegations under California VC §12951(a) may be more challenging than you might have previously thought. First, the statute specifically states that charges should be dismissed if the defendant can produce a valid driver’s license in court unless this is the third or subsequent time the defendant has been charged with the offense.
If your existing license was an interim, temporary, or duplicate license, and you can produce it in court, you may be able to get your charges dismissed if you can prove that the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) did not issue the license prior to your arrest.
Other potential defenses you could use to challenge the charges against you include:
- You were not the driver of the vehicle – If you were not operating a vehicle at the time of the police stop, you should not be charged under California Vehicle Code Section 12951(a). You are under no legal obligation to carry your valid driver’s license with you if you are not going to be operating a vehicle and will only be traveling as a passenger.
- Police did not have probable cause to stop you – Under the law, police must have probable cause to believe you have committed a criminal offense to stop your vehicle.
If the police do not have any reason to believe that you have committed an offense, they have no legal right to stop your vehicle.
- You had a valid driver’s license at the time of the stop – You can only be convicted under California Vehicle Code §12951(a) if you failed to have a valid driver’s license in your possession. If your attorney can show that you did have your valid driver’s license at the time of the stop, the judge may be able to dismiss the charges against you.
These are just a few of the different ways in which you could challenge the allegations against you. Your attorney may be able to work with the prosecutor in your case to obtain a plea agreement or pretrial diversion program, depending on the circumstances of your case.
However, if there are aggravating factors present, it is less likely the state will be willing to work with you. Explore your potential defenses further during your initial consultation with your attorney.
Call a California Criminal Defense Attorney for Help Today
If you are facing charges under California Vehicle Code §12951(a), and you do not know where to turn for help, reach out to an experienced California criminal defense lawyer.
A conviction could carry more serious consequences than you might have thought. Take steps to protect yourself and your future. Fill out our secured contact form or call our office for a confidential case evaluation today.