Louisiana prohibits the operation of a motor vehicle without a valid license. This article explains what constitutes a violation, the possible penalties, and the exemptions to the rule.
Generally, every person who operates a motor vehicle on a Louisiana highway must possess and be able to display a valid driver's license.
License not in possession. A driver who was licensed but did not have it in his or her immediate possession can be subject to a fine of $10 to $500 and up to six months in jail. However, under the Louisiana "Wallet Program," a digital image of the driver's license presented via the driver's cellphone will also suffice.
Driving without a valid license. Unlicensed driving can result in a misdemeanor conviction. A convicted person can face up to six months in jail and a maximum fine of $500.
Exceptions. Non-resident drivers can drive in the state without a Louisiana license, subject to Louisiana age restrictions. However, these non-resident drivers must hold a valid driver's license from their domicile state. Persons from foreign countries are also exempt if their home country has a reciprocity agreement with Louisiana.
A person who operates a vehicle while on a suspended or revoked license will be subject to jail time, fines, and an extended driver's license suspension.
Jail. Driving while suspended or revoked is a misdemeanor and is punishable by up to six months in jail. If the driver's license was suspended due to a second or subsequent DWI conviction, a minimum seven days must be served in jail.
Fine. A conviction for driving a personal vehicle can result in a fine of up to $500. A violation in a commercial vehicle carries a maximum $5,000 fine. And a driver suspended for a second or subsequent DWI faces a minimum $300 fine. The judge may also impose an additional civil penalty of up to $1,250 ($2,250 if suspended for DWI).
Suspension. Any person convicted for operating a vehicle while suspended or revoked will also have his or her license suspended or revoked for an additional year. The judge is permitted to allow the motorist to drive during this period with an ignition interlock device.