Like in other states, it’s unlawful to drive without a license in Florida. This article explains what constitutes driving without a license and the penalties for a violation.
Generally, every person who operates a motor vehicle on Florida highways must possess and be able to display a valid driver’s license.
License not in possession. The failure to display a valid license upon the request of an officer normally results in a driving-without-a-license citation, but it doesn’t necessarily have to result in a conviction. If the driver is able to produce a driver’s license that was valid at the time of the citation, the court clerk can dismiss the ticket and collect a dismissal fee of up to $10 from the driver. If the ticket isn’t dismissed, the fine is $30.
Driving without a valid license. Driving without a valid license is a misdemeanor in Florida. A conviction carries a fine up to $500 and a maximum of 60 days in jail. However, eligible motorists can resolve the citation by obtaining a license and paying a $25 court assessment fee. But this option is only available if the driver has not resolved another citation this way in the past 12 months.
Exemptions. Certain persons, such as non-residents and military personnel, may be exempt from driver’s license requirements.
A person who operates a vehicle while on a suspended, restricted, or revoked license may face jail time, fines, and vehicle impoundment.
First offense. A first driving-while-suspended offense will result in up to 60 days in jail and a maximum $500 fine.
Second offense. A second conviction will result in up to one year in jail, a maximum $1,000 fine, and vehicle impoundment.
Third offense. Any third or subsequent offense is considered a felony, subject to a maximum five-year prison sentence and up to $5,000 in fines. If the three offenses occurred within a five year period, the driver can be deemed a habitual violator, resulting in a five-year license revocation as well as increased prison time and fines.
Without knowledge. Florida actually has a separate offense for driving while suspended if the driver did not know his or her license was suspended. The offense is a moving violation, which carries a $60 penalty.