North Carolina requires that all drivers have a valid driver’s license and that it is in their possession while they are driving.
Driving without a license in North Carolina can be a serious offense. Make sure your rights are protected by a trusted North Carolina traffic attorney.
People who are picked up by the police for driving without a license in North Carolina usually fall into the following categories:
- Driving without a license in possession.
- Driving while your license is suspended or revoked.
- Driving with an expired license.
- Driving without ever being issued a driver’s license.
- Driving with an out-of-state license if you have lived in North Carolina for 60 days or longer.
- Driving with an out-of-state commercial license after living in NC for at least 30 days.
- Failing to comply with license restrictions.
What happens if you get caught driving without a license in NC?
In North Carolina, you must have a valid license when you drive a car. However, the answer isn’t simple. There are many different situations that might arise may arise when “driving without a license”, which can result in penalties.
What is a valid driver’s license?
It is important to understand that driving without a license is driving without being properly licensed for the class and type of vehicle you are driving. You may be driving without a license if your license has been suspended, revoked, or expired. You may also be driving without a license if you never applied for or received a driver’s license.
Check the status of your driver’s license and more: North Carolina Department Of Motor Vehicles Website
Criminal charges and penalties for driving without a license NC
Penalties for driving without a license in North Carolina can range from a small fine to jail time. Generally, you will be required to pay a fine and/or serve jail time. Your car may also be impounded, and in some cases, you may lose your driving privileges altogether.
The severity of the penalties will depend on the circumstances surrounding your offense. For instance, if you are caught driving without a license and you have never applied for one, you will likely face more severe penalties than someone who is caught driving with one that has been lost or stolen.
No Operator’s License Infraction (NOL)
Under N.C. Gen. Stat. § 20-7(a), a No Operator’s License Infraction (NOL) occurs when you are pulled over and found to not be licensed to drive in North Carolina.
This is the least serious of the potential penalties that can be issued for not having a valid license at the time of a stop.
Under N.C. Gen. Stat. § 20-35, an NOL is a traffic infraction, not a criminal offense. Generally, penalties include a fine of up to $100, plus court costs, 3 points on your driving record, and 1 point on your insurance record.
You are generally ticketed for a No Operators License traffic infraction when:
- You are properly licensed to drive, but your license is not in your possession when you got pulled over
- Your North Carolina drivers license has expired
- You have a valid out-of-state driver’s license but have since moved to North Carolina.
North Carolina Class 3 Misdemeanor License Charges
Misdemeanor charges can be issued to an unlicensed person in some circumstances. The penalties for a Class 3 misdemeanor include a fine of up to $200 and/or imprisonment of up to 20 days.
These penalties are generally issued in the following circumstances:
- Driving without ever obtaining a valid license
- Not complying with license restrictions
- Letting an unlicensed driver operate your motor vehicle
North Carolina Class 2 Misdemeanor License Changes
The penalties for a Class 2 misdemeanor in North Carolina include a fine of up to $500 and/or imprisonment of up to 60 days.
Class 2 Misdemeanors are generally issued when:
- You have been previously convicted of driving without a license within the past 3 years
- You are caught driving with an invalid license because it has been suspended, revoked, or canceled.
- You are caught driving with a fictitious license
North Carolina Class 1 Misdemeanor License Charges
A Class 1 misdemeanor is the most serious charge that can be issued for driving without a license. A violator whose license was suspended due to an impaired driving incident will be guilty of a class 1 misdemeanor.
A conviction will hold up to 120 days in jail and a fine in whatever amount the judge decides to be appropriate.
A Class 1 misdemeanor is generally issued when:
- You have been previously convicted of driving without a license within the past 3 years AND you are caught driving with an invalid license because it has been suspended, revoked, or canceled.
Have you been charged for driving without a valid license?
At Law Offices of J.M. Kotzker, P.C., we are proud of our reputation of nearly 20 years of successfully defending clients ticketed with Driving Without a License traffic violations.
With such experience behind us, we know that the earlier you meet with us, the better we will be able to examine your case and start protecting your rights.
We have extensive experience with license suspensions and traffic violations cases and are ready to carefully review the details of your case and provide you with an honest evaluation of your options.
If you’ve been charged with more serious North Carolina driving offenses, including DUI/DWI, hit-and-run, reckless driving, or high-speed violations, we can also provide you with representation for those charges.
Contact us for a free consultation and if we are retained by you, we will most assuredly provide aggressive safeguarding of your rights.