What does it mean to “drive without a license” in North Carolina?
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
- You never
applied for a license (or your license expired). North Carolina Code § 20-7states that
"to drive a motor vehicle on a highway, a person must be licensed."
Penalty is typically a fine of up to $500.
license was cancelled, revoked or suspended by the authorities. A person
who (1) drives (2) a motor vehicle (3) on a street or highway (4) while his or
her license has been revoked by the State of North Carolina (4) knowing that
his or her license is revoked commits a Class 3 misdemeanor. For first time
offenders, this offense is punishable by a fine of $500 to $2500. If the
suspension/revocation was for impaired driving (DUIs, etc.), the violation is a
Class 1 misdemeanor.
Who doesn’t have to have a valid North Carolina driver’s license?
North Carolina exempts the following persons from having to
possess a valid North Carolina license:
- Any person operating a motor vehicle that is the
property of and in the service of the armed forces of the
- Any person driving farm machinery on a highway;
- A nonresident who is at least 16 years old who
has in his immediate possession a valid driver’s license
issued to him by his home state or country.
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 North Carolina?
An undocumented immigrant is not permitted to obtain a driver's
license in North Carolina.