Defending the Accused in Criminal and Traffic Courts Across Virginia Since 2012


Driving Without a License


Driving without a valid operator’s license is a misdemeanor in Virginia.  If your license is expired, suspended in another state, or if you drive without first obtaining a driver’s license, you may be charged with driving without a license in violation of Virginia Code Section 46.2-300.   It is a misdemeanor with a possible jail sentence and suspension of your right to get a license in addition to a fine.

Some first offenses in Northern Virginia do not result in active jail time if there is nothing extraordinarily bad about the circumstances of the stop.  That’s not to say they can’t do it; it’s just not very common for a first offense where no one was endangered and the defendant was reasonably polite and cooperative with the police officer.   A second offense, however, often results in a jail sentence and/or license suspension.

If you’ve been charged with driving without a valid operator’s license, you should consult with an attorney to verify what you are facing under the particular circumstances of your case.  Call Jennifer Raimo to schedule a free consultation with no obligation to you.

Can I be convicted of driving without a license if my license was suspended and I didn’t know it?

No. Until recently it was not uncommon for a person who did not know his or her license was suspended to face a driving without a license charge. This was very unfair since some were being convicted of a misdemeanor when they never had any reason to believe the piece of plastic they thought authorized them to drive was in fact invalid. The Court of Appeals has recently ruled that the driving without a license statute does not apply to people who were once licensed and for whatever reason do not have legal notice of that license being suspended.

That does not mean you can’t be charged. The simple fact is a police officer cannot allow you to drive if you do not have a valid license, even if the officer is the first one to tell you your license is suspended. That means, you may very well get a ticket (which is actually starting a misdemeanor criminal case against you and not “just a ticket”). You would have to go to court and prove you didn’t know in order to get the case dismissed.

What can I do to help get my no license charge dismissed?

The best thing you can do to get a no license charge dropped or dismissed is get a license before you go to court even if that means you have to get your court date postponed. A lawyer can speak to a prosecutor on your behalf to minimize the risk of getting a criminal record.