Driving Without an Operators License
In order to lawfully operate a motor vehicle in the Commonwealth of Virginia, a driver must first obtain a valid operator's license. Under the Virginia Code, section 46.2-300:
- No person, except those expressly exempted, shall drive any motor vehicle on any highway in Virginia until such person has applied for a driver's license, satisfactorily passed the examination required under the Virginia Code, and obtained a valid driver's license.
It is important to clarify the meaning of Virginia's no operators license statute. By doing this, you'll have a better understanding of the applicable law, as well as any defense that may apply in your case.Fairfax and Prince William County Attorney Explains Why Driver's Are Frequently Charged for Driving Without a License, and the Applicable Penalties Following a Conviction
Practically speaking, individuals are charged with driving without an operator's license under a few circumstances: if you failed to ever obtain an operator's license; if your operator's license was suspended or revoked due to an old charge and you never got it reinstated; your driver's license has expired; or if you've moved to Virginia and never surrendered your previous license to obtain a Virginia license within 60 days of residence.
The first offense for driving without a valid operators license is a Class 2 criminal misdemeanor and can result in up to $1,000 in fines and 6 months in jail. The second or subsequent offense is a Class 1 criminal misdemeanor. This is the most serious class of misdemeanor charges and may result in up to $2,500 in fines and up to 12 months in jail. Additionally, upon conviction a judge may suspend your driving privileges for an additional period of time not to exceed 90 days.Our Traffic Attorney Provides You With a Realistic No Fear Assessment:
Even if you are found guilty for driving without an operator's license, it is our goal to make sure that you are not sentenced to any active period of incarceration. In most cases, we are able to reach to resolution with the prosecutor so that you are punished with nothing more than a simple fine. We will negotiate with the Commonwealth to keep any applicable fines and costs at a bare minimum.Exemptions and Defenses: Driving Without a License
There are statutory exemptions that your Fairfax and Prince William County traffic traffic attorney can raise to have your charges dismissed. Call S&R Law Firm today to schedule a FREE phone or office meeting. The following is a list of exemptions and defense's that we have successfully raised in the past.Northern Virginia Traffic Attorney Explains Applicable Exemptions Under 46.2-300
First, the no operators license statute does contain exemptions. The following list of individuals and activities are exempt from prosecution under the no operator's license statute: persons in armed services, spouses and dependent , persons in armed services, spouses and dependent children of armed services personnel, persons operating farm tractors, as well as a temporary exemption for new residents of Virginia who are licensed under the laws of another state. Second, essentially any road in the Commonwealth of Virginia can be considered a “highway” for purposes of interpretation under 46.2-300.Northern Virginia Traffic Attorney Explains Defenses Under 46.2-300
If you've been charged for driving without an operator's license, there are many viable defenses that we may be able to raise on your behalf. While this list isn't exhaustive, I would like to cover some of the main defenses that we have successfully raised with past clients of ours.
It is the Commonwealth's burden to prove that you were given 'notice' of your status as an unlicensed operator. In some cases, the Commonwealth can easily establish this by demonstrating that you were never licensed in the Commonwealth or any other jurisdiction. However, this can become complicated. For example, if you have a valid operator's license and weren't made aware of it's expiration, then you can assert that you were never given any notice. In some instances, your license may have an expiration date that dates into the future, yet a government agency requiring you to provideyearly testing or status updates can summarily change your status to unlicensed -- without you even knowing!
If you've been issued a license by another state or territory, it is also the Commonwealth's burden to establish that you've resided in the Commonwealth for 60 days. These cases are fact intensive and raise many issues. First off, what does it mean to reside in Virginia for 60 days? In the past, we have successfully argued on behalf of clients that either left Virginia for long gaps of time within the 60 day period. Additionally, we have adjudicated cases where individuals never intended to reside in Virginia for more than 60 days.