Driving Without a License in Maryland

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 Maryland?

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). Maryland Code § 16-101 states that an individual may not drive or attempt to drive a motor vehicle on any highway in Maryland the individual holds a valid driver's license. The penalty is a fine of not more than $500.
  • Your license was cancelled, revoked or suspended by the authorities. According to Maryland Code §16-303, violators may subject to fine of not more than $1,000, or imprisonment for not more than one year, or both.

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

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

  • An officer or employee of the United States while driving on official business a motor vehicle other than a commercial motor vehicle owned or operated by the United States;
  • Except for members elected from this State, a member of the United States Congress who resides in this State during his term of office in the Congress;
  • An individual while driving any road machine, farm tractor, or farm equipment temporarily driven on a highway in this State, or dock equipment at Dundalk or Locust Point marine terminals which does not require registration under the provisions of this article;
  • An individual who, while driving a mobile crane on a highway to or from a construction site in this State, has with him a valid Class A, B, or C license issued to him,
  • A nonresident student enrolled in an accredited school, college, or university of this State or of a bordering state or serving a medical internship in this State, if: The state of which the student is a resident extends the same privileges to the residents of this State; the student has with him a license to drive issued to him by the state of which he is a resident; and the license authorizes the student to drive in the state of which he is a resident vehicles of the class he is driving in this State;
  • A new resident of this State during the first 60 days of residency, if the individual has a valid license issued by the state of which the individual formerly was a resident
  • A member of the armed forces of the United States or of the United States Public Health Service who is serving on active duty and any dependent of the member, if The driver has with him a license to drive issued to him by his state of domicile
  • A nonresident of this State if he has with him a license to drive issued to him by the state of his residence
  • A nonresident of the United States if the individual has a valid license to drive issued to the individual by the country of residence;
  • A member of the Maryland National Guard or a National Guard military technician if the driver is driving a military vehicle in the performance of duty.

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 Maryland?

Maryland law allows drivers without social security numbers to obtain a driver's license if they have filed a Maryland tax return or were claimed as a dependent of someone who filed a Maryland tax return for the prior two years.


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