Driving Without a Valid (or on a Suspended) License in New Jersey

Read about the penalties for driving without a valid license in New Jersey.

New Jersey law prohibits driving without a valid license. This article explains what constitutes a violation, the possible penalties, and the exemptions to the rule.

Driving Without a License

Generally, every person who operates a motor vehicle on a New Jersey highway must have a valid driver's license in his or her immediate possession.

License not in possession. All drivers are required to display a valid driver' license if requested to do so by a law enforcement officer. While a violation carries a $150 fine, the judge can dismiss the case if the driver presents a then-valid license in court. However, even if the charge is dismissed, the judge can still require the driver to pay court costs.

Driving without a valid license. Unlicensed driving can result in a fine of $200 to $500 and up to 60 days in jail. A convicted driver will also be prohibited from obtaining a driver's license for at least 180 days.

Exceptions. Subject to New Jersey age restrictions, a non-resident driver with a valid driver's license from his or her state of legal residence can drive in New Jersey without a New Jersey license. For those driving farm machinery within 150 miles of the farm, fire trucks, and military vehicles certain exemptions may apply.

Driving While Restrained

A person who operates a vehicle while his or her license is suspended, refused, or revoked will face possible jail time, fines, and an extended driver's license suspension.

Driving while suspended or revoked will result in a $500 fine for a first offense. A second offense carries a $750 fine and one to five days in jail. And anyone convicted of a third or subsequent offense faces a $1,000 fine and ten days in jail. If the convicted person has a prior conviction within the last five years, the person's vehicle registration will also be revoked. For all offenses, the judge can suspend the driver's license for up to six months.

Accident. A person who was driving while suspended during a vehicle accident will be subject to an additional 45 to 180 days in jail.

Insurance. Suspended drivers without insurance will receive a $500 fine in addition to any other penalties. The judge will also add a one-to-two-year license suspension and ten to 90 days in jail.

School zone. Driving while suspended through a school zone or school crossing will add $500 and a one-to-two-year suspension to the regular penalty. A first offense will also add 60 to 90 days of jail time, a second offense will add 120 to 150 days of jail time, and a third or subsequent offense will add 180 days in jail time.

Moving violation. Suspended drivers who commit a moving violation will have ten days added to the normal jail sentence. This doesn't apply to first-offense driving while suspended violations.

DUI-related. Violators whose license was suspended due to a DWI (driving while intoxicated) will receive an additional $500 fine, one-to-two-year license suspension, and ten to 90 days in jail and have his or her vehicle registration revoked. And persons who are suspended due to a second-offense DWI or who have a prior driving-while-suspended conviction will be guilty of a fourth-degree offense. These violations carry 180 days to 18 months in jail and a maximum fine of $10,000.

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