Driving Without a License in Kentucky

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 Kentucky?

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). Kentucky Revised Statute § 186.410 requires that all operators of motor vehicles have a valid license. Penalty for violation is a Class B misdemeanor and is usually punishable by a fine.
  • Your license was cancelled, revoked or suspended by the authorities. This offense is punishable (Ky Code § 186.620) if it is a first offense as a Class B misdemeanor (less than 90 days in jail) and often with an additional six months of license suspension. If it is a second offense, it's treated as a Class A misdemeanor. Third offenses (and beyond) are treated as a felony violation..

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

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

  • Operators of a road roller, road machinery or any tractor or implement of husbandry temporarily drawn or propelled on the highways.
  • Every person in the service of the Army, Navy or Marine Corps of the United States, when furnished with an operator's permit from the United States, shall be exempt from an operator's license when operating an official vehicle in the course of his service.
  • A person over the age of sixteen (16) who is a United States citizen and who is not a resident of Kentucky may drive in Kentucky for a period of time not to exceed one (1) year from the date the person enters Kentucky if:
  • A person who is a United States citizen but who is not a resident of Kentucky who is enrolled as a full-time or part-time student at a university, college, or technical college located in Kentucky may drive in Kentucky on a valid license issued by the person's state of domicile, and shall not be required to obtain a Kentucky operator's.
  • A person over the age of sixteen (16) who is not a United States citizen and who is legally visiting this country for less than one (1) year may drive in Kentucky on a valid domestic license issued by the person's country of domicile.

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 Kentucky?

An undocumented immigrant is not permitted to obtain a driver's license in Kentucky. 


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