Driving Without a License in Alabama

What does it mean to drive while your license is expired, revoked, suspended or cancelled?

What does it mean to “drive without a license” in Alabama?

Driving without a license can refer to three scenarios. You’re stopped for an offense and:

  • You have a license but it’s not in your possession. In other words, you were licensed to drive but lacked proof, an infraction that may be dismissed once you can prove that you possessed a valid license at the time of the incident.  (Note: you may have to pay a fine.)
  • You never applied for a license (or your license expired). Alabama Code Section 32-6-1 states that,“every person, except those specifically exempted by statutory enactment, shall procure a driver's license before driving a motor vehicle upon the highways of this state. Every new resident of the State of Alabama shall procure an Alabama driver's license within 30 days after establishing residence in this state.” Driving without a license is a misdemeanor and the fine ranges from $10 to $100. Alabama Code Section 32-6-18; or
  • Your license was cancelled, revoked or suspended by the authorities. This offense is punishable by a fine between $100 and $500 and up to 180 days in jail. In addition to the fine and other costs, Alabama imposes an additional $50 penalty. At the discretion of the Director of Public Safety, the driver’s license may be revoked for an additional six months. Under certain conditions, the vehicle driven by the person with the suspended license may be impounded. (Ala. Code Section 32-6-19.)

Who doesn’t have to have a valid Alabama driver’s license?

Alabama exempts the following persons from having to possess a valid Alabama license:

 (1) Any person in the service of the federal government while driving an official motor vehicle in such service;

(2) Any person while driving any road machine, farm tractor or implement of husbandry temporarily driven or moved on a highway;

(3) A nonresident who is at least 16 years of age and who has in his immediate possession a valid driver's license issued in his home state or country;

(4) Any nonresident who is at least 16 years of age whose home state or country does not require the licensing of drivers for a period of not more than 90 days in any calendar year, if the motor vehicle so driven is duly registered in the home state or country of such nonresident.

How do you fight the charge?

Fighting a “driving without a license charge” can be difficult.  Once the district attorney or prosecutor alleges that you drove without a valid license, the burden of proof is on you to prove that you did possess a valid driver’s license at the time of your offense. If you don’t evidence of a license, you lose! Depending on your circumstances, you may benefit from the advice or negotiating skills of an attorney.

Can an undocumented immigrant obtain a driver’s license in Alabama?

An undocumented immigrant is not permitted to obtain a driver's license in Alabama. Further, a 2011 Alabama statute requires that law enforcement officers arrest and check the immigration status of anyone stopped while driving without a license. 

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