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A Traffic Violations FAQ: Answers from a Criminal Defense Attorney

Posted by James Dick
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October 2, 2022
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Can you get arrested for driving without a license?

It’s always best to make sure you have a valid license with you before you drive a motor vehicle. However, it’s important to know what happens if you get caught driving without a license because you can get arrested. A criminal defense attorney breaks down everything you need to know about the penalties for driving without a license and your legal options.

What happens if you are caught driving without a license in Michigan?

If you are caught and arrested for driving without a valid driver’s license, you can be convicted of a misdemeanor. It’s best to first contact a criminal defense lawyer and see what they can do for you. An attorney can negotiate your charge and may be able to get it reduced to a no operator’s license offense, which just means you didn’t have your driver’s license with you. This is a less severe penalty because it does not have to be reported to the Secretary of State.

Is driving without a license a felony in Michigan?

Driving without a license can be a felony if there is death or serious bodily injury involved. But generally, it is a misdemeanor offense with a maximum penalty of 93 days in jail and/or a fine of up to $500. After a first conviction, it is up to one year in jail and /or a fine up to $1000. It’s rare that people end up serving some sort of jail time for driving with a suspended license. But if they’re repeat offenders, and they do it enough, and they’re arrogant or ignorant in court, then the judge may be a little less lenient.

What’s the penalty for driving without a license?

The penalty depends on if you have prior offenses and what those offenses are. If you don’t have any other prior offenses, the judge may let you go on your own recognizance.You just have to show up to your court date, or they will issue a bench warrant, which can get you arrested.

The maximum penalty for this misdemeanor offense is 93 days in jail and/or a fine of up to $500. After a first conviction, it is up to one year in jail and /or a fine up to $1000.

If you’re operating your vehicle with a license suspended for unpaid fines, you will get another 30 day suspension. Generally, with a 30 day suspension, you just have to pay off the tickets, and you may have to pay a reinstatement fee to get your license back.

If you’re operating your vehicle with a license revoked due to driving while intoxicated, you potentially could have a another year suspension added right off the bat from the date you got caught driving without a license.

Is it worth hiring a criminal defense attorney?

In short, yes. It is absolutely worth it to hire a criminal defense lawyer. Unless it’s just a parking ticket, your attorney can negotiate down your traffic ticket, whether it’s a speeding ticket or an accident. For example, if you get a ticket for following too closely, they could negotiate it down to something that’s less harsh and get as few points as possible. 

Charges can often be pled down to a lesser offense; for example, the suspension for driving with a suspended license can be pled down to no operator’s permit. It is absolutely worth it to hire a traffic lawyer because if you avoid having points on your license, you could save money on your insurance.

Does driving without a license go on your record?

Driving without a license generally will go on your record. However, if you are able to plead it down, a driving without a license charge will not be what is put on your record. If you hire a criminal defense attorney, they generally can get your ticket reduced in some manner. This reduced charge will be what is put on your record.

Talk to the Criminal Defense Lawyers at JAD Law PLLC about Your Driving Without a License Charge

An experienced  criminal defense attorney will help you negotiate your charge and may be able to help reduce your possible penalty. If you need an experienced criminal defense lawyer in Warren, Michigan, JAD Law is here to help. Contact JAD Law today to schedule an appointment.

JAD Law serves several counties across Metro Detroit Michigan, including Macomb, Oakland, St. Clair, and Wayne counties.

About the Author

Born in the United States, I was raised in Canada before returning to the states and joining the United States Coast Guard. I served in the U.S. Coast Guard for 7 years before an injury led to my separation from the service. During this period of service, I received the Coast Guard Meritorious Se…

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