Driving Without a License

Driving Without a License


California law requires a person to hold a valid California drivers license if driving a motor vehicle upon a California highway. A violation of that law can bring a misdemeanor criminal charge, with a penalty that can include up to six months in jail, and a fine up to $1,000 + penalty assessment, and a probation period up to three years. In reality though, if you are convicted of a first offense misdemeanor “Driving without a license” charge, under normal circumstances you will not receive a penalty of 6 months in jail or the max $1,000 fine + penalty assessment.  But that doesn’t mean that you should take this charge lightly.


If you receive a citation for Driving Without a Valid License and given a court date, either you or your privately retained attorney must appear at Court on that date. If neither you or your attorney show up to Court on that date, it is very likely that the Judge will immediately issue a bench warrant for your arrest. Note that when retained for a Driving without a Valid Licensecharge, I am able to appear in Court on your behalf, and with your permission I can resolve the case without you ever stepping foot inside a Court room.

A misdemeanor conviction should be avoided when possible, and consequences of this violation minimized. Often I am able to get Driving without a Valid License charges dismissed completely or reduced to an infraction.

Possible Defenses

When handling Driving Without a Valid License charges, there are many potential defenses that I approach. More often than not, I am able to successfully resolve these cases without having to go to trial based on arguing the defenses of the case with the prosecutor in advance. This includes challenging the residency of the driver when that person has a valid out-of-state license or valid International license at the time the citation was issued. Additionally, I can often challenge the initial stop that was made. When that is done successfully, and a “lack of probable cause” for the initial stop is found, and I am able to get the subsequent 12500 Driving without a License charge dismissed.

It is my goal to get Vehicle Code 12500 Driving without a valid license charges completely dismissed or reduced to infractions depending on the specifics of the case, and have successfully done so in Courts throughout Southern California.

A partial list of cases where I successfully got VC 12500 charges completely dismissed can be viewed here: Driving without a Valid License case dismissals

Call me at 818-336-1384 if you would like a free evaluation of your case.

*Note, there is a similar charge, Vehicle Code 14601, Driving on a Suspended or Revoked License. Although similar, it is a different charge than Driving without a Valid License. Information for that charge can be viewed at:  Driving on a Suspended License as well as here:  Driving on a Suspended License vs. Driving without a Valid License