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Driving without a License in Prince William County

Unlicensed driving charges or driving with no operator’s license (NOL) refer to a situation in which someone driving a vehicle is pulled over and found not to have a valid driver’s license or permit. Driving without a license in Prince William County is a criminal misdemeanor that can affect an individual’s criminal history and driving records. Because of the serious penalties associated with this offense, you should contact a skilled defense lawyer if you are facing charges such as these.

Penalties

A first offense of unlicensed driving in Prince William County is a Class 2 misdemeanor, which means an accused individual could receive a maximum penalty of up to six months in jail and a maximum $1,000 fine. It also may lead to a license suspension of up to 90 days.

The court elevates a second or subsequent offense of driving without a license to a Class 1 misdemeanor, which means it can be punished by up to 12 months in jail and up to a $2,500 fine, as well as the same potential of 90 days of additional license suspension. If an individual is not licensed in Virginia, they make risk losing their privileges to drive in that state.

The collateral administrative penalties with the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles include three demerit points and an offense that remains on an individual’s driving record for three years after conviction.

What to Expect

The vast majority of operating a motor vehicle without a license cases are treated as minor charges in Prince William County because they usually occur when law enforcement charges someone with the more serious offense of operating a motor vehicle on a suspended license. However, a court may reduce this charge to unlicensed driving.

It is rare for a high fine or jail time to be imposed for unlicensed driving, so the more critical goals in these cases tend to be avoiding a new criminal charge, further license suspension, and other associated consequences with the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles and auto insurance policies.

Sometimes the accused may have a legal defense to the charge if, at the time of the stop, they were only operating the vehicle on a road that is not considered a public highway. More commonly, a traffic defense lawyer can get the charge dropped or dismissed if the person obtains a valid license before their final court date.

Unlicensed Driving Versus Driving without a License in Possession

Driving without a license in one’s possession is different from operating a motor vehicle without having had a valid license issued. This offense is the least serious traffic ticket one can receive in the state.

Driving without a license in one’s possession is a traffic infraction that is punishable only by a maximum fine of $10. Consequently, the court costs actually can be a bigger sum than the fine. No jail time, license consequences, or DMV demerit points are associated with this offense.

Almost all driving without a license in possession cases end with the accused bringing their actual physical license card to the court to show that it was issued by or before the date they received the charge. Once an individual shows this proof to the court or prosecutor, the charge is dismissed. Sometimes, however, the accused is required to pay courts cost as part of the dismissal.

Driving with a Suspended License

In Prince William County, driving with a revoked license is a more serious offense than unlicensed driving. Driving while suspended applies to situations where one’s entire privilege to drive in the state has been revoked, regardless of whether the person has ever had a valid Virginia license.

This offense also requires that the accused be driving a motor vehicle on a public highway as opposed to just operating a stationary vehicle. An accused must have received sufficient prior notice of their driving suspension by the time they were observed to be driving for law enforcement to charge them with this offense.

Causes of Suspension

One of the most common causes of license suspension is nonpayment of court fines or costs in a previous legal case. Those expenses are typically due within 30 days after a case concludes, and the DMV may suspend a person’s privilege to drive for an indefinite period if the court does not obtain payment within that timeframe.

Someone also may receive a license suspension if they were convicted for an offense or put on probation or first-offender program under which the court ordered their privilege to drive to be suspended for a certain amount of time. This period of suspension is fixed in duration regardless of the payment of court expenses. Some drug offenses require a license to be suspended for six months. Additionally, Most DUI offenses require a license to be suspended for at least one year each time someone is convicted.

How Can a Driver Get Their License Back After a Suspension?

A driver whose license was suspended because of a DUI conviction has to fulfill several demanding obligations before they are eligible to have their license reinstated. Those obligations include completing a mandatory alcohol safety and abuse class, exclusively operating a vehicle that has an ignition interlock system installed for at least six months, or not driving at all until the total period of suspension has passed.

Once a person has gone through all of those steps and paid off related court expenses, they are eligible to pay a reinstatement fee to the DMV to be issued a new license. Depending on how long the person was without a valid license and the nature of the DUI conviction, a person may be required to retake the driving test as well.

Contact a Prince William County Attorney to Learn About Unlicensed Driving Charges

Driving without a license in Prince William County is a serious offense that can have severe consequences. A seasoned lawyer could help you fight these charges and prepare for the upcoming legal process. To schedule a case consultation, call today.

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