Driving Without a License in Arkansas

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 Arkansas?

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). The law requiring a valid license in Arkansas is located at Arkansas Code § 27-16-602. It states, “No person, except those expressly exempted, shall drive any motor vehicle upon a highway in this state unless the person has a valid driver's license under the provisions of this act.” Arkansas Code § 27-16-301 states that it is a misdemeanor for any person to violate any of the provisions of this act unless the violation is by this act or other law of this state declared to be a felony.  The law also states, “[E]very person convicted of a misdemeanor for the violation of any provision of this act shall be punished by a fine of not more than five hundred dollars ($500) or by imprisonment of not more than ninety (90) days; or
  • Your license was cancelled, revoked or suspended by the authorities. This offense is punishable by imprisonment for not less than two (2) days nor more than six (6) months, and there may be imposed in addition thereto a fine of not more than five hundred dollars ($500). Arkansas § 27-16-303.Who doesn’t have to have a valid Arkansas driver’s license?

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.

Are there any exceptions?

The following persons are exempt from licensing in Arkansas:

(1) A person who operates a motor vehicle for a military purpose: (A) While in the service of the: (i) Army, Air Force, Navy, Coast Guard, or Marine Corps of the United States; or (ii) National Guard or military reserve; or (B) While serving as a National Guard military technician;

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

(3) A nonresident who is at least sixteen (16) years of age and who has in his or her immediate possession a valid noncommercial driver's license issued to him or her in his or her home state or country may operate a motor vehicle in this state only as a noncommercial driver;

(4) A nonresident who is at least eighteen (18) years of age and who has in his or her immediate possession a valid commercial driver's license issued to him or her by his or her home state or country may operate a motor vehicle in this state as a noncommercial driver or may operate a commercial motor vehicle as provided by 27-23-123; and

(5) Any nonresident who is at least eighteen (18) years of age whose home state or country does not require the licensing of noncommercial drivers may operate a motor vehicle as a noncommercial driver only, for a period of not more than ninety (90) days in any calendar year, if the motor vehicle so operated is duly registered in the home state or country of the nonresident.

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

According to Arkansas Code § 27-16-604(a)(10), “The Officer of Driver Services shall not issue any license under this act to any person...who is making an initial application for an Arkansas driver’s license and who is not lawfully in the United States.” In other words, undocumented aliens are not permitted to acquire an Arkansas driver’s license.

 

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