Driving Without a License in Idaho
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 Idaho?
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). Idaho Statutes 49-301 states that, “No person, except those expressly exempted by the provisions of this chapter, shall drive any motor vehicle upon a highway unless the person has a current and valid Idaho driver's license." A violation is a misdemeanor and may be punishable by a fine of several hundred dollars. (Idaho Statutes 49-301)
- Your license was cancelled, revoked or suspended by the authorities. This offense is punishable by a fine of up to $1,000 and may be sentenced to jail for a mandatory minimum period of not less than two (2) days, and not more than six (6) months (which may be converted to community service). (Idaho Statutes 80-8001).
Who doesn’t have to have a valid Idaho driver’s license?
Idaho law exempts the following persons from having to possess a valid Idaho license:
- Any person while driving or operating any farm tractor or implement of husbandry when incidentally operated on a highway.
- Farmers are exempt from obtaining a class A, B or C driver's license to operate a commercial motor vehicle which is: (a) Controlled and operated by a farmer, including operation by employees or family members; and (b) Used to transport either agricultural products, farm machinery, farm supplies, or both, to or from a farm; and (c) Not used in the operations of a common or contract motor carrier; and (d) Used within one hundred fifty (150) miles of the person's farm.
- Any person is exempt from obtaining a class A, B or C driver's license for the operation of commercial motor vehicles which are necessary to the preservation of life or property or the execution of emergency governmental functions, are equipped with audible and visual signals, and are not subject to normal traffic regulations.
- Any person is exempt from obtaining a class A, B or C license to operate a commercial vehicle which is exclusively used to transport personal possessions or family members for nonbusiness or recreational purposes.
- A nonresident who is at least fifteen (15) years of age and who has in his immediate possession a valid driver's license issued to him in his home state or country may operate a motor vehicle in Idaho only as a class D operator with driving privileges restricted to daylight hours only except as provided in section 49-307(9), Idaho Code, and with full privileges at sixteen (16) years of age, and only if Idaho residency is not established.
- A nonresident who is at least fifteen (15) years of age and who has in his possession a valid driver's license with a motorcycle endorsement or who has a valid motorcycle driver's license issued to him in his home state or country may operate a motorcycle in Idaho with driving privileges restricted to daylight hours only, and with full privileges at sixteen (16) years of age.
- A nonresident who has in his immediate possession a valid commercial driver's license issued to him in his home state or country may operate a motor vehicle in Idaho.
- A nonresident on active duty in the armed forces of the United States who has a valid driver's license issued by his home jurisdiction, and such nonresident's spouse or dependent son or daughter who has a valid driver's license issued by such person's home jurisdiction.
- Any active duty military personnel, active duty U.S. coast guard personnel, and members of the reserves and national guard on active duty including personnel on full-time national guard duty, personnel on part-time training and national guard military technicians who as civilians are required to wear military uniforms and are subject to the code of military justice, are exempt from obtaining a commercial driver's license to operate military vehicles. This exemption does not apply to U.S. reserve technicians.
- Any person with a valid driver's license issued in their name is exempt from the requirement to obtain a motorcycle endorsement on the license when operating a motorcycle on highways or sections of highways designated for unregistered motorcycle use under section 49-426(3), Idaho Code.
- Any person under the age of sixteen (16) years when operating an ATV, UTV, specialty off-highway vehicle or motorbike on roads on federal or state land where the road is not part of the highway system of the state of Idaho or local road management authority and is supervised by a licensed adult operator eighteen (18) years of age or older, and the road is open for such use, subject to the following: (a) Any unlicensed operators under the age of sixteen (16) years, on national forest roads must have completed a motorbike or ATV safety course approved by the Idaho department of parks and recreation, and a certificate or other proof of completion of such safety course shall be in the possession of the unlicensed operator of any ATV, UTV, specialty off-highway vehicle or motorbike, or shall be present in the vehicle at all times when the vehicle is operated on national forest roads. The certificate or proof of completion shall be provided for inspection to any peace officer upon request. No person shall be convicted of violating the provisions of this subsection if that person produces, at any time prior to conviction, the certificate or proof of completion of the approved safety course where the certificate shows completion of the course prior to the violation. In the event of a violation of the provisions of this subsection, the supervising adult may be charged with an infraction. (b) For purposes of this subsection, "supervised" means that the supervising adult must be in a position, on another ATV, UTV, specialty off-highway vehicle or motorbike, or if on the ground, within three hundred (300) feet of the unlicensed operator, to provide close support, assistance or direction to the unlicensed operator.
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 Idaho?
An undocumented immigrant is not permitted to obtain a driver's license in Idaho.