Driving on an expired license is a criminal offense in the state of California under Vehicle Code (VC) 12500. So, what happens if you get caught driving with an expired license? You may face criminal charges. These charges may result in a conviction.
If convicted for driving without a license, you could face fines and jail time. In the event you’re facing this charge, you’ll want to learn more about what to expect when you get caught driving with an expired license in California and consider possible legal defenses your attorney might use.
Vehicle Code Section 12500 and an Expired License
All drivers must have a valid license to legally operate a vehicle in California, which you must obtain from the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). Drivers without a license may face charges under Vehicle Code (VC) 12500 if:
- They never obtained a driver’s license
- They had a driver’s license from another state but never got one upon moving to California
- They did not renew their driver’s license when it expired
You may face VC 12500 charges for driving with an expired license in the state of California.
Penalties for Driving on an Expired License
Driving without a license is considered a “wobbler” charge in California. Prosecutors may charge VC 12500 as either an infraction or a misdemeanor. Generally, you face infraction charges for a first arrest. You may face fines the first time you are stopped without a license.
You should be aware that subsequent arrests for VC 12500 are treated more seriously. You often face misdemeanor charges for additional VC 12500 cases. A second conviction for driving on an expired license may result in:
- Fines of up to $1,000
- Jail time of up to six months
You may face these repercussions each time you are arrested for driving on a suspended license. You can get legal help if you are accused of driving without a license. Call us to learn more or contact drunk driving accident lawyer.
You Can Obtain a Driver’s License in California
As we mentioned, a first-time offense for driving on an expired license in California is generally only an infraction. This means you may avoid major penalties for this infraction. You may only have to pay a fine. You can avoid additional penalties by getting a license.
Generally, obtaining a license requires you to visit the DMV. If your license expired, you may have to go through the entire process to get your license again. However, you may avoid these challenges by getting your license renewed promptly.
Defenses to Charges for Driving on an Expired License
You do not have to simply accept charges for driving on an expired license in California. You can get legal help on your side quickly to take care of these accusations. In some cases, you may build a defense by demonstrating that:
You Are an Out-of-State Driver
Only residents of California are required to have a California driver’s license. If you moved to another state, you could allow your California license to expire. In this case, you would need to have a current license for your present state of residence.
You Were Not Driving
Sometimes, individuals spend time in a vehicle without driving. You should not be penalized for having an expired license if you were not driving your vehicle. A lawyer may help establish that you were not operating a vehicle at the time of your arrest.
You Were Exempt From Having a License
Some drivers are not required to have a license. For example, government workers do not need a license when operating a government-owned vehicle. This applies in most cases. Additionally, drivers operating a tractor do not need a license.
You Simply Didn’t Have Your Up-to-Date License With You
Some drivers accidentally leave their current license behind when they go for a drive. If you have an up-to-date license, you may avoid charges. Your lawyer may prove that you simply forgot to bring your license with you. This could allow you to avoid fines and jail time in California.
Expired Licenses Can Open You to Other Charges
Getting caught while driving with an expired license can open you up to other charges. If you have a warrant out for your arrest already, or are on probation, getting caught could send you directly to jail.
An officer may also try to use the stop as an excuse to search your vehicle or question you to find other evidence of crimes. To them, you’re already in trouble for the expired license and you may have broken other laws.
DUI and Expired Licenses in California
An expiration is different from a suspension. Suspension is what often happens if someone is arrested for DUI. An expiration just means you haven’t registered with the state. Driving with either condition can get you charged in California.
If you are charged with driving DUI with an expired license, you’ll need immediate legal assistance. Call us immediately for legal assistance. If you don’t act fast, your expired license could turn into a suspended one. This is much more difficult and expensive to fix.
Get Help If You Were Caught Driving With an Expired License
Driving with an expired license may result in criminal charges in California. You may face prosecution under VC 12500. A lawyer may be able to help you handle these charges. You can get legal assistance now by calling the number on your screen. You can also complete our online contact form.
Contact us if you are facing infraction or misdemeanor charges for driving on an expired license. We will provide you with a free consultation. Reach out to us today.