Driving Without a License in Delaware

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 Delaware?

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 Delaware is located at Del Code Title 21 § 2701. It states, “No person shall drive a motor vehicle on a public street or highway of this State without first having been licensed under this chapter, unless expressly exempt from the licensing requirements.” A first offense results in a “fine of not less than $25 nor more than $100. For each subsequent like offense, the violator shall be fined not less than $50 nor more than $200, or imprisoned not less than 10 nor more than 30 days, or both.” (Del. Code. Title 21 § 2704).
  • Your license was cancelled, revoked or suspended by the authorities. This offense is a misdemeanor and a first offense is punishable with a fine between $500 and $1,000 and a possible jail sentence of between 30 days and six months. (Del. Code tit. 21 § 2756 (a).)

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

Delaware’s licensing requirements of this title do not apply to:

(1) An individual while driving or operating a road roller, road machinery or any farm tractor or implement of husbandry temporarily drawn, moved or propelled on the highways;

(2) A member of the armed forces of the United States who is serving on active duty and any dependent of the member, if: a. The driver possesses a license to drive issued to the driver by the driver's state of domicile; and b. The license authorizes the driver to drive in the driver's state of domicile vehicles of the class that the driver is driving in this State; or

(3) For not more than 30 days after the driver returns to the United States, a member of the armed forces of the United States who is returning from active duty outside the United States and any dependent of the member who is returning from residence with the member outside the United States, if:  a. The driver possesses a license to drive issued to the driver by the armed forces of the United States in a place outside the United States; and b. The license authorizes the driver to drive vehicles of the class that the driver is driving in this State.

(Del Code Title 21 § 2705).

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 Delaware?

Current Delaware law prohibits the DMV to issue a license to anyone who does not satisfactorily demonstrate to be an authorized U.S. resident. A bill was proposed in 2014 to repeal that rule and provide a “driving privilege card,” but it did not pass.

 

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