Driving without a license is a crime in all states, including Georgia. However, there is a big difference between not having a valid license at all and simply forgetting your legally-issued license at home. Both have consequences, but the former is much more serious.
Driving Without a License Charge in Georgia
Someone could be charged with driving without a license if:
- They drove while their license was revoked, suspended, or canceled
- Their license expired and wasn’t renewed
- They never applied for a driver’s license at all
A first-time driving without a valid license violation in Georgia can include:
- Minimum $500 fine (this is mandatory)
- Two days in county jail
- Driver’s license suspension for two months
The above refers to the first offense within the last five years. If the driver is caught driving without a valid license a second time within five years, the penalties are fines between $1000 and $2500, minimum 10 days in jail, and additional license suspension time. A second or third conviction within five years is considered a high and aggravated misdemeanor. If there is a fourth conviction within five years, it’s a felony.
A conviction for driving without a license will also go on a driver’s permanent criminal record and their fingerprints will be sent to the Georgia Crime Information Center (GCIC) for any future tracking purposes.
In addition, someone can be arrested for driving without a license if they recently moved to Georgia but didn’t apply for a new state-issued license soon enough. You must do this at the Georgia DMV within 30 days of moving to Georgia from another state. Missing this deadline will cause your current license to expire, even if the listed expiration date hasn’t passed, and leave you without a valid license.
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Driving without a License on Person in Georgia
In this situation, the driver actually has a valid license but they don’t physically possess it at the time of being pulled over. For example, someone gets into their car to drive to work and is pulled over for speeding. When the officer asks to see their driver’s license, the driver realizes they accidentally left it at home with their wallet.
This can also be referred to as “driving without a license in possession” or “driving without proof of license.”
There is a separate charge in Georgia for driving without a license in your possession. Under Georgia code 40-5-29, a driver’s license is “to be carried and exhibited on demand”:
- Every person issued a driver’s license should have it on their possession when operating a car or other motor vehicle
- Every driver with a license should show their license when requested by a law enforcement officer
- Anyone convicted of this violation who provides a valid license in court will be fined no more than $10
However, the lines sometimes get blurred. A driver could be charged with having no valid license at all if the officer can’t confirm the driver’s identity. Charges may also be altered later if the driver can present proof of a valid license.
So, “driving without a license on person” means the driver does hold a valid license—just not physically at the time they are stopped. The officer who pulled them over may be forgiving and simply issue a traffic citation. The driver could then appear before the court and present their license to have the citation dismissed or reduced.
Can Someone Be Arrested for Forgetting Their Valid License?
Simply not having your license won’t usually lead to an arrest if the license is valid. However, the driver could still face a misdemeanor penalty until they fight the charge by presenting their license at a hearing.
The license must have been valid at the time of the traffic stop. If the driver can demonstrate this, they will avoid all other penalties except the above-mentioned fine of up to $10.
Driving Without a License from Out of State
If a driver is pulled over for not having a valid license and they are not a resident of Georgia, they will likely be arrested to post a bond if they can’t present a license.
Officers typically use discretion when deciding how to handle a driving without a license situation. A lot depends on the likelihood of the driver to appear in court.
Were You in a Car Accident With an Unlicensed Driver?
Everyone who operates a motor vehicle in Georgia is required to hold a valid driver’s license. Driving without a license can lead to car accidents—or a hit-and-run accident if the driver tries to avoid detection.
If you’ve been hurt in an auto accident with an unlicensed driver, John Foy & Associates can help you with your personal injury claim. For a FREE consultation with one of our attorneys, call us today at 404-400-4000 or complete the online form on this page. Contact us today to get started with your free consultation.