Driving Without a License in Oregon

What does it mean to drive while your license is expired, revoked, suspended or cancelled in Oregon?

What does it mean to “drive without a license” in Oregon?

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). This is a Class B traffic violation – up to six months of jail time and a maximum fine of $2500.
  • Your license was cancelled, revoked or suspended by the authorities. This is a Class A traffic violation – up to one year in jail and a maximum fine of $6,250. (For first time offenders, this offense is usually punishable by a fine of $1000.)

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

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

  • A person who is not a resident of this state or who has been a resident of this state for less than 30 days may operate a motor vehicle without an Oregon license or driver permit if the person holds a current out-of-state license.
  • A person in the Armed Forces of the United States may operate a motor vehicle without an Oregon license or driver permit if the person is operating a motor vehicle in the course of the persons duties in the Armed Forces.
  • A person without a license or driver permit may operate a road roller or road machinery that is not required to be registered under the laws of this state.
  • A person without a license or driver permit may temporarily operate, draw, move or propel a farm tractor or implement of husbandry.
  • A person without a license or driver permit may operate a motor vehicle to demonstrate driving ability during the course of an examination
  • Driving privileges for snowmobiles are exclusively as provided in ORS 821.150 (Operation of snowmobile without driving privileges).
  • Driving privileges for all-terrain vehicles are exclusively as provided under Oregon law (Operation of all-terrain vehicle without driving privileges).
  • A person without a license or driver permit may operate a golf cart in accordance with an ordinance adopted under ORS 810.070 (Use of golf carts on highways).
  • The spouse of a member of the Armed Forces of the United States on active duty who is accompanying the member on assignment in this state may operate a motor vehicle if the spouse has a current out-of-state license or driver permit issued to the spouse by another state in the spouses possession.
  • A person who is a member of the Armed Forces of the United States on active duty may operate a motor vehicle if the person has a current out-of-state license or driver permit.

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 have 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 Oregon?

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

 

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