Driving Without a Valid (or on a Suspended) License in Texas

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

Texas prohibits driving without a license and driving on a suspended license. This article explains what constitutes these violations, the possible penalties, and the exemptions to the license requirement.

Driving Without a License

Generally, every person who operates a motor vehicle on a Texas highway must possess and be able to display a valid driver’s license.

Driving without a valid license. Unlicensed driving is an offense carrying a fine of up to $200. A second violation within a year is a misdemeanor that carries a fine of $25 to $200. A third violation within a year can result in a $25 to $200 fine and/or 72 hours to six months in jail.

License not in possession. A driver who was issued a license but did not have it in their immediate possession can avoid a conviction by presenting valid proof of a valid license to the court. The driver will then be required to pay only a $10 dismissal fee.

Exceptions. Non-resident drivers with valid driver’s licenses from their home state or country can drive in the state without a Texas license, subject to Texas age restrictions. Farmers driving farm implements and military personnel driving military vehicles are also exempt.

Driving While Suspended or Revoked

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.

Class C misdemeanor. Driving while suspended or revoked is a class C misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $500.

Class B misdemeanor. Violators who did not possess proof of insurance or who have a prior driving while suspended violation can be convicted of a class B misdemeanor. A conviction carries a fine of up to $2,000 and a maximum of 180 days in jail.

Class A misdemeanor. Driving while suspended is a class A misdemeanor if the driver had no insurance and caused an injury accident. Convicted persons will face a fine of up to $4,000 and a maximum one year in jail.

A driver who’s convicted of driving while suspended will also have to pay a $125 annual surcharge for 36 months, and the suspension will be extended for the same term as the original suspension or disqualification.

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