Driving Without a License in Georgia

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 Georgia?

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). Georgia O.C.G.A. §40-5-20 states that, “No person, except those expressly exempted in this chapter, shall drive any motor vehicle upon a highway in this state unless such person has a valid driver's license.”
  • Your license was cancelled, revoked or suspended by the authorities. This misdemeanor offense is punishable by a mandatory minimum fine of $500.00 fine, 2 days in jail and an additional 6-month suspension of driving privileges. Second offenses within a five-year period are punishable by a mandatory $1000.00 fine, ten days in jail and additional 6-month suspension. O.C.G.A. 40-5-121

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

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

(1) Any employee of the United States government while operating a motor vehicle owned by or leased to the United States government and which is being operated on official business, unless such employee is required by the United States government or any agency thereof to have a state driver's license;

(2) A nonresident who has in his or her immediate possession a valid driver's license issued to him or her in his or her home state or country; provided, however, that such person would otherwise satisfy all requirements to receive a Georgia driver's license and, if such nonresident driver's license is in a language other than English, the nonresident also has in his or her immediate possession a valid international driving permit which conforms to and has been issued in accordance with the provisions of the Convention on Road Traffic, 3 U.S.T. 3008, TIAS 2487, or any similar such treaty, international agreement, or reciprocal agreement between the United States and a foreign nation concerning driving privileges of nonresidents;

 (3) A nonresident on active duty in the armed forces of the United States who has a valid license issued by his or her home state, and such nonresident's spouse or dependent son or daughter who has a valid license issued by such person's home state;

(4) Any person on active duty in the armed forces of the United States who has in his or her immediate possession a valid license issued in a foreign country by the armed forces of the United States, for a period of not more than 45 days from the date of his or her return to the United States;

(5) Any inmate or resident patient of a state, county, or municipally owned institution who drives a vehicle while on the grounds of such institution and while accompanied by and under the direct personal supervision of a qualified driving instructor or of some other person duly authorized in writing to so accompany and supervise such inmate or resident patient;

(6) Any person driving or operating a farm tractor or farm implement temporarily operated on a highway for the purpose of conducting farm business;

(7) Any inmate of a state, county, or municipal prison, correctional institution, or jail while operating a motor vehicle owned by or leased to the state, county, or municipality and being operated with the written approval of the warden or superintendent and in such manner and for such purpose as may be specified by the warden or superintendent, provided that such inmate, within the 60 day period prior to the grant of written authority, has passed the vision, written, and driving tests required for licensing a citizen to operate such motor vehicle. The department shall give such tests and issue a certificate, without charge therefor, to any inmate passing such tests;

(8) A member of the reserve components of the armed forces of the United States while operating a motor vehicle owned by or leased to the United States government and being operated in accordance with the duties of such member as a member of the reserve components of the armed forces;

(9) Any person seeking to obtain a driver's license while taking the driving examination for such license accompanied by a driver license examiner of the department or a certified examining agent of the department;

(10) Any migrant farm worker who works in this state less than 90 days in any calendar year and who possesses a valid driver's license issued by another state;

(11) Any resident who is 15 years of age or over while taking actual in-car training in a training vehicle other than a commercial motor vehicle under the direct personal supervision of a driving instructor when such driving instructor and training vehicle are licensed by the department in accordance with the provisions of Chapter 13 of Title 43, "The Driver Training School License Act." As used in the previous sentence, the term "commercial motor vehicle" shall have the meaning specified in Code Section 40-5-142. All vehicles utilized for the in-car training authorized under this paragraph shall be equipped with dual controlled brakes and shall be marked with signs in accordance with the rules of the department clearly identifying such vehicles as training cars belonging to a licensed driving school. A driving instructor shall test the eyesight of any unlicensed person who will be receiving actual in-car training prior to commencement of such training, and no unlicensed driver shall receive in-car training unless such person has at least the visual acuity and horizontal field of vision as is required for issuance of a driver's license in subsection (c) of Code Section 40-5-27; and

(12) Any person while operating a motorized cart: (A) On any way publicly maintained for the use of motorized carts by the public and no other types of motor vehicles in accordance with a local ordinance adopted pursuant to subsection (a) of Code Section 40-6-331; or (B) When crossing a street or highway used by other types of motor vehicles at a location designated for such crossing pursuant to subsection (d) of Code Section 40-6-331.

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 Georgia?

Currently in Georgia, non-citizens can get driver’s licenses as long as they prove they have a lawful presence in the United States and can show a valid immigration document. An immigrant lacking valid documentation is not permitted to obtain a driver's license in Georgia. 

 

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