Driving Without a License in Hawaii

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 Hawaii?

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). Hawaii Code Hawaii Revised Stat.286-102 states that “No person … shall operate any category of motor vehicles listed in this section without first being appropriately examined and duly licensed as a qualified driver of that category of motor vehicles.” This offense may be punishable by a fine of up to $1,000, and up to 30 days in jail. (Haw. Rev. Stat. 286-136(a).)
  • Your license was cancelled, revoked or suspended by the authorities. This offense may be punishable by a fine of up to $1,000, and up to 30 days in jail. (Haw. Rev. Stat. 286-136(a).) Those under the age of 18 may lose the right to drive a vehicle until turning 18. (Haw. Rev. Stat. § 286-136(c).)

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

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

(1) Any person while driving or operating a motor vehicle in the service or employ of any branch or agency of the federal government; provided that the person has received a license or permit from the branch or agency to operate and drive the motor vehicle; provided further that the branch or agency has been duly authorized by the federal government to issue the license or permit;

(2) Any person while driving or operating any road machine, farm tractor, or implement of husbandry temporarily operated or moved on a highway; provided that no person under the age of thirteen years shall be permitted to drive or operate any such road machine, farm tractor, or implement of husbandry on a highway;

(3) Any person who is at least eighteen years of age and who has in the person's possession a valid driver's license to drive the categories of motor vehicles listed in section 286-102(b), except section 286-102(b)(4), that is equivalent to a driver's license issued in this State but was issued to the person in another state of the United States, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, United States Virgin Islands, American Samoa, Guam, a province of the Dominion of Canada, or the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands for that category of motor vehicle which the person is operating;

(4) Any person who has in the person's possession a valid commercial motor vehicle driver's license issued by any state of the United States, Mexico, or a province of the Dominion of Canada that issues licenses in accordance with the minimum federal standards for the issuance of commercial motor vehicle driver's licenses; and

(5) Any person who drives or operates state or county motor vehicles while employed by, in the service of, or volunteering for the state or county fire departments, provided that they are trained and certified to drive category (4) motor vehicles as set forth in section 286-102(b)(4) by the state or county government, as appropriate, and provided that the person maintains a category (3) license as set forth in section 286-102(b)(3)

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 Hawaii?

A previous law permitting undocumented aliens to obtain drivers licenses in Hawaii was repealed. Presently, an undocumented immigrant is not permitted to obtain a driver's license in Hawaii.

 

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