Driving Without a License in Virginia

What does it mean to drive while your license is expired, revoked, suspended or cancelled in Virginia?

What does it mean to “drive without a license” in Virginia?

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). Virginia Statutes § 46.2-300 provides that: “No person shall drive any motor vehicle on any highway in the Commonwealth until such person has applied for a driver's license, as provided in this article, satisfactorily passed the examination, and obtained a driver's license. A violation of this provision is a Class 2 misdemeanor. A second or subsequent violation of this section is a Class 1 misdemeanor."
  • Your license was cancelled, revoked or suspended by the authorities. For first time offenders, this offense may be punishable as a Class 1 misdemeanor with a maximum fine of $2500.

Who doesn’t have to have a valid Virginia driver’s license?

Virginia law provides for the following exemptions:

  • No person shall be required to obtain a driver's license to operate a road roller or road machinery used under the supervision and control of the Department of Transportation for construction or maintenance purposes.
  • No person shall be required to obtain a driver's license for the purpose of operating any farm tractor, farm machinery, or vehicle;
  • Every person in the armed services of the United States, when furnished with a driver's license, and when operating an official motor vehicle in such service, shall be exempt from licensure; and
  • a person on active duty with the armed services of the United States or a spouse or a dependent child not less than sixteen years of age of a person on active duty with the armed services of the United States who has been licensed as a driver under a law requiring the licensing of drivers in his home state or country and who has in his immediate possession a valid driver's license issued to him in his home state or country shall be permitted without examination or license under this chapter to drive a motor vehicle on the highways in the Commonwealth.

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 Virginia?

An undocumented immigrant is not permitted to obtain a driver's license in Virginia.



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