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

Read about the consequences for driving without a valid license in Utah.

In Utah, it's unlawful to drive without a valid license. This article takes a look at what constitutes driving without a license, possible penalties for violating this law, and what it takes to reinstate a suspended or revoked license.

Driving Without a License

Driving without a license typically involves one of four circumstances:

The driver never obtained a license. Utah law forbids driving a car on a highway in the state without first being licensed as a driver. A violation of this law is an infraction and carries a $200 fine.

The driver is licensed but can’t find it when pulled over. Getting pulled over is stressful enough, and finding out you forgot your license at home only adds to the anxiety. Utah law requires that all licensed drivers possess their license while driving. But not having your license in your possession is only an infraction and, worst case scenario, will typically result in only a $50 fine. Most judges will dismiss the ticket if you show up to court with proof that your license was valid at the time you were pulled over.

The driver’s license is expired. In Utah, drivers are required to renew their license every five years. If you fail to renew, your license will “lapse”. Driving on an expired license is an infraction and normally carries a $50 fine.

The driver’s license is suspended or revoked. Driving on a suspended or revoked license is a more serious offense. The penalties vary depending on the reason for the suspension or revocation. For example, if you lost your license because of a DUI conviction or refusing to submit to a DUI chemical test at the time of a DUI arrest, then the offense is a Class B misdemeanor with at least a $500 fine. In other instances, a violation is a Class C misdemeanor and the fine is much less.

Violations That Result in Loss of Driving Privileges

As mentioned above, a DUI conviction or refusal to submit to a chemical test results in the loss of driving privileges. Other violations that can lead to losing your license include:

  • texting while driving
  • “careless driving” resulting in the death of another person
  • automobile homicide
  • any felony violation of Utah’s motor vehicle laws
  • any felony in which a car is used to commit the offense
  • failure to stop a vehicle at the command of a law enforcement officer
  • drag racing
  • two charges of reckless driving or impaired driving committed within a 12-month period, and
  • any drug or drug paraphernalia possession conviction.

The length of suspension or revocation depends on the violation.

Reinstatement of Driving Privileges

It’s important for drivers to be proactive once their suspension or revocation period ends. If a driver fails to reinstate once eligible, they are still violating the law each time they drive.

The Driver License Division can extend the suspension or revocation up to one year each time a driver is convicted of driving on a suspended or revoked license or convicted or arrested for any traffic offense. Even a police report of an accident where the driver involved did not have a license can lead to an extension of any suspension or revocation period.

For license suspensions, the driver is required to complete the suspension period and pay a reinstatement fee for reinstatement. With a license revocation, reinstatement requires the driver complete the revocation period, pay all necessary fees, and reapply for a license; the individual must also go through the process required for a newly licensed driver, including successfully completing the written and driving exams.

Undocumented Immigrants

In Utah, it’s possible for an undocumented immigrant to obtain a Driving Privilege Card (DPC). To get a DPC, the person must provide proof of Utah residency and identity, submit to fingerprinting, take a photograph, and pass a written knowledge test and driving skills test.

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