What Happens When You Get Pulled Over Without A License? Understanding The Driving Rules

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What Happens When You Get Pulled Over Without A License

The law states that you need always to have your driving license when driving. According to federal law, driving is a privilege, and the state can revoke it in any serious violations. 

It, never fun getting pulled over without your driving license. It can lead to severe consequences, but this depends on the nature of the circumstances. As a driver, you need to know the various driving rules and their penalties. 

Driving without a license is undoubtedly a crime in all 50 states in America. But the consequences vary according to the state you live in. So!

What Happens When You Get Pulled Over Without a License?

Getting pulled without a license has consequences such as community service, fines, possible jail time, etc. However, the jail term is not common. 

The fine of driving without a license starts from $100 to $1000, but this varies according to the states. The penalty will be severe if you fail to avail a valid driving license while in court. 

It can also be severe depending on the severity of your traffic infraction. For example, you do not have a valid driving license and drive while drunk or get an accident and lack a valid driving license. 

Additional Information 

They tow your car if they catch you driving without a valid driver’s card in other states. Though it’s not the case in most states, after towing your vehicle, they impound it, and you are at risk of jail term. 

It could happen to you even if you made a little mistake of forgetting your driving license; check out the rules of your state to know more. Other states are not that harsh if you forget your license. 

All in all, always remember to carry your wallet whenever you drive. If you are a forgetful person, it’s better to be leaving it in your car. 

Scenarios Where You Get Pulled Over Without a License

Forgetting a License  

Forgetting your license is a correctable offense. You can forget to carry your driving license because humans are subject to forgetfulness. 

In many states, police will be considerate when dealing with someone that forgets the license than when dealing with one who doesn’t have it at all. 

If you do not have a license when the police pull you over at that time but have it at home or in the office, you will get a less severe traffic citation. All you need to do is ensure you carry it when you appear before the court. 

What to do if you get pulled over, and you forget to carry your license 

Be honest and tell the police officer that you have a valid driver’s license, but you failed to carry it. 

The police officer will certainly ask for your identification, give the officer your full name, current address, and date of birth. 

If the officer needs more information about you, willingly give the correct responses, do not lie about anything. 

Remember that not carrying your driving license is an offense, and you can get an arrest in most states. Therefore you need to remain very cooperative when dealing with the police officer. 

Remember that you still face the charges that made the police pull you over, such as running a red light or speeding. But the court might dismiss the driving license offense.

Driving With A Valid

Here it’s about violating the rule willfully by simply driving without a valid driver’s license. It’s never a good idea to drive with a driving license that is revoked or suspended. It’s a much severe offense than to drive with no license or forget it.

 If you have a suspended or revoked license, then it means you can’t drive until they resolve the issue behind the revocations and suspensions. 

If they catch you driving and your license is on suspension, you are at risk of losing the driving privileges longer, serving longer jail time lengths, and paying higher fees and fines.  

What to do if an officer pulls you over and you have a driving license that is revoked or suspended

Just like in the other scenario, you need to be honest with the officer. Tell the police officer that you do not have the license because it was revoked or suspended. Cheating here won’t help because the officer will still find out either way

The officer will need your details. Provide your full name, your current home address, date of birth, and an explanation of why your driving license was revoked or suspended. 

Do not tell any lie because you are already in the police records. The police can quickly check the records and know that you are lying, which will add to your offense. 

Driving with such a license is an offense that calls for immediate arrest. Therefore if you remain honest and more cooperative, you might get a citation. Lying is disrespectful, and the police will arrest and charge you with double offenses.

You are Driving With No License At All

It is another extreme driving offense, and with no license, you will get an arrest and pay a fine. If you are a minor, you will still get charged and pay a fine. 

Plus, you will have a misdemeanor on your record; you will receive a penalty that will not allow you to get a license for several years. The punishment is extreme, especially for the teens, but you need to be calm and positive about the penalty. 

You have no other option because you chose to break the rule by driving when you know you do not have a license. 

What Is Driving Without A License? 

There are several circumstances under which you are guilty of driving without a driver’s license in different states. Each type of offense has its penalty. 

  • You do not have a valid driving license
  • The driving license has expired
  • You have a suspended driving license
  • Driving with  a license that is revoked or canceled
  • Not complying with restrictions of a driver’s license

Driver’s License Revocation

Revocation means total cancellation of your license, and you cannot reinstate it. Getting a driver’s license revocation notice is something that no driver wishes. 

It will disrupt your life and make it more difficult. Not being able to drive will affect your daily businesses. So why do people get license revocation notices? 

Medical Conditions 

If the DMV learns that you have a medical condition, they will revoke your driving license. It’s because you can cause danger to you and other road users. Some of the conditions that might lead to the revocation of your license include:

  • Partial blindness
  • Dementia
  • Sleep disorders 
  • Seizures or epilepsy

Racing Or Reckless Driving  

In most states, if you take part in racing or reckless driving, they automatically revoke your license. However, this often happens if there is a previous record of reckless driving.

Drug And Alcohol Addiction

If they convict you of an offense involving alcohol and drugs, you might temporarily lose your license, i.e., suspension. The license revocation will happen if you repeat the felon offense often.

Multiple Driving Offenses 

If you appear before court often for driving offenses, some states will label you as a habitual traffic offender (HTO). With this tag, you might experience revocation or suspension of your license. 

For example, in California, if you get two convictions for driving offenses in one year, then you will automatically lose your license. If you have three or more accidents in one year, you will also lose your license. 

Many other issues can lead to revocation or suspension of your license, like failure to appear in court for a traffic offense, fraud, hit and run, etc. 

Revocation Vs. License Suspension

Revocation is the permanent cancelation of your driver’s license. When talking about license suspension, it means you still have a chance to make your license valid again by following the given punishments or steps. 

Can You Get Back A License Under Revocation?

The law on revocation varies from state to state and depends on the weight of your offense. In Illinois, if you lose your license because of a DUI conviction, then you can reinstate your license again if you do the following:

  • Do a drug test and pass the evaluation
  • Have a clean record
  • Pay a fee
  • Pass the driver license exam
  • Show proof of insurance

Note that reinstatement is so possible, but the process is not easy. The court must hear your case and set a fee, education requirement, etc. If you successfully do all they set for you, then you can have your license back.


Getting pulled over without a valid driving license is not fun at all. It can be worse depending on why you were driving without a valid driver’s license. The severity of the punishment also differs depending on the state you reside. 

If you know you will go to court, you need to hire a reputable lawyer; the lawyer will help you win the case or reduce the severity of the punishment. Overall, also try to carry your license any time you are driving. 

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