What does it mean to “drive without a license” in Ohio?
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). According to Ohio Revised Statutes § 4507.02, "No person shall permit the operation of a motor vehicle upon any public or private property used by the public for purposes of vehicular travel or parking knowing the operator does not have a valid driver's license." If the driver never has held a valid Ohio driver’s or commercial driver’s license or any other jurisdiction, the offense is a first degree misdemeanor resulting in a fine of up to $1,000 and/or not more than 180 days imprisonment. (It's a minor misdemeanor if the driver's license is expired for less than six months.)
- Your license was cancelled, revoked or suspended by the authorities. For first time offenders, this offense is typically punished by a fine of up to $1000 and/or 500 hours of community service.
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 Ohio?
An undocumented immigrant is not permitted to obtain a driver's license in Ohio.