Oregon law prohibits driving without a valid license, whether the driver had a suspended, revoked, or was never issued a 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 an Oregon 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’s license if requested to do so by a law enforcement officer. While a violation is a class C traffic violation (which normally carries an $85 to $500 fine), the driver can establish a defense to the charge by proving he or she was properly licensed at the time of the violation.
Driving without a valid license. Unlicensed driving (meaning the motorist didn’t have a valid license at all) is a class B traffic violation and carries a fine of $135 to $1,000 (presumptive $265). A convicted driver will also be prohibited from obtaining a driver’s license for at least 180 days. Drivers who violate license restrictions are also subject to these penalties.
Exception persons. Subject to Oregon age restrictions, non-resident drivers (including stationed military and families) with valid driver’s licenses from their state of legal residence can drive in Oregon without an Oregon license. Road workers operating road machinery, military personnel driving military vehicles, and farmers operating farm implements are also exempt from the normal licensing requirements.
Exception vehicles. A license is not required to operate an electric or motorized bicycle. Additionally, special licenses and exemptions exist for operating golf carts, ATVs, and snowmobiles.
A person who operates a vehicle while his or her license is suspended or revoked will face possible jail time, fines, and other penalties depending on the circumstances of the violation.
Driving while suspended or revoked is a class A traffic violation with a presumed $440 fine ($225 to $2,000 possible).
Driving while suspended or revoked is a class B felony if the suspension was due to a felony DUII or any sort of murder or manslaughter conviction. A class B felony carries a maximum ten years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000. The driver’s license will be revoked one additional year.
If the suspension was due to reckless driving, a test refusal, or a misdemeanor DUII, a driving-while-suspended conviction is a class A misdemeanor. A class A misdemeanor carries a maximum 364 days in jail and a fine of up to $6,250. Any DUI-related driving-while-suspended violation carries a minimum $1,000 fine for a first offense and a minimum $2,000 fine for a second offense.
A driving-while-suspended offense that results in serious injury or death is a class C felony, punishable by up to five years in prison and a maximum $125,000 fine. The driver’s license will also be revoked for ten years.
Any driving-while-suspended or revoked offense results in vehicle registration suspension for up to 120 days and possible vehicle impoundment for up to one year. A second-offense misdemeanor or felony driving-while-suspended offense can result in forfeiture of the driver’s vehicle.