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    Driving Without a License

    If you have been cited for driving without a license or driving with invalid license in the State of California, the laws will be tough on you. California has a strict code for vehicle and road discipline and has severe penalties for offenders. The laws and penalties against driving without license are different from laws dealing driving while suspended license. Driving without a license can be charged as an infraction or a misdemeanor criminal offense in California. So, if you are stuck with run in with law involving invalid driving license, it is in your best interest to contact a seasoned criminal defense lawyer that successfully defend you against these charges. With strict monetary and jail penalties, you should not take driving without license conviction lightly.

    The situation and circumstances of your charges play an important role in determining the conviction and penalty. A driver that is driving a car for which he is not licenses will receive different sentence from a driver that is unlicensed and never obtained a license in California. At David S. Chesley’s law office, we have almost 50 years of experience in California’s legal system and have worked on both sides of law. We have helped hundreds of clients facing tough sentences in driving without license cases with no or minimum sentence. Analyzing the situation and laws, we suggest a course of action with the most favorable outcomes.

    CA Vehicle Code 12500

    VC 12500 in California’s law deals with the unauthorized and unlicensed driving. Just like in any other state, it is mandatory for the driver to have an appropriate, valid driving license for the vehicle it is driving. The VC 12500 (a) states,

    person may not drive a motor vehicle upon a highway, unless the person then holds a valid driver’s license issued under this code, except those persons who are expressly exempted under this code.

    What Is a Valid Driving License?

    A valid driving license can be the license issued by California’s DMV to the residents of California to drive vehicles. There is different driving license for light traffic vehicle, heavy traffic vehicle and motor cycles. You cannot drive a HTV on a LTV license as it will result in driving without license charges.

    Furthermore, a person can drive in the streets and highway in California if the person is a visitor in the state and has a valid driving license of another state.

    When Does the Driving Without License Charges Apply?

    When you are stopped over on the highway or street, the peace officer asks you to show your driving license and identity proofs. If you fail to produce the driving license or your license is invalid, the peace officer can cite you for driving without license. The following situations can be the reason,

    • You never obtained the driving license from DMV Authority in California
    • You did not renew your driving license after it has expired.
    • You have established yourself in the state, but did not get the license from state of California. In this case, the driving license from any other state is considered invalid.

    To prove that you have established yourself in California, the prosecution’s office provides different types of evidences such as you are a registered voter in California, you are paying resident’s tuition fee at a local college or university, or you have filed for property tax exemption in the state.

    Penalties for Driving Without License

    The driving without license in California is often nicknamed as ‘wobbler’ which means that it can be charged as an infraction or as misdemeanor. The factors that can affect the severity of charges depend on

    • Specific circumstances of your stopover
    • Previous Traffic Violation Record

    Most of the first-time violations are charged as infraction while the second time or subsequent offenses are charged as misdemeanor.


    If it is your first offense of Driving Without License, you are most likely convicted as infraction and you are fined up to $250.


    If you are charged with misdemeanor, you can face charges up to,

    • $1,000 fine
    • 6 months in jail
    • 3 years Informal probation
    • 30-day car impoundment.

    Car impoundment means that your car will be towed away and locked for 30 days which means that you will also have to pay impoundment fee as well as parking fee for 30 days.

    Seek Our Help for Successful Defense

    A driving without license misdemeanor means that it will become a part of your record and will show up in your background checks. For illegal aliens or immigrants, the situation can be more tough as they cannot legally acquire license and a misdemeanor can delay their green card or legalization. We work to reduce the misdemeanor charges to infraction through a solid defense case.

    We identify and explore all possible defense options and pursue the most effective defense arguments that weaken prosecutor’s evidences or invalidate them.

    DUI Alcohol

    DUI Alcohol

    According to VC 23152 (a), it is illegal for any person to drive under the influence of alcohol.

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    DUI Marijuana

    DUI Marijuana

    As experienced defense attorneys, we have various instances of the successful defense of DUI marijuana cases.

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    DUI Drugs

    DUI Drugs

    The drug can be any controlled, illegal or prescription substance that can impair a person’s ability to drive a vehicle safely.

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    Hit and Run

    Hit & Run

    A hit and run case is when the driver after hitting another car(s) or damaging the property did not stop and left the scene without notifying other drive or property owner and law enforcement.

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    Drunk in public

    Drunk in Public

    You must consult an experienced defense lawyer for your legal representation in court to avoid conviction or to reduce charges to minimum.

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    Driving Without a License

    The situation and circumstances of your charges play an important role in determining the conviction and penalty.

    Learn More

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    Recent Results

    • Multiple defendants each facing 7 years charged with smuggling prescription drugs into California from Mexico our client was the only defendant who received NO JAIL TIME!

    • Client facing 5 years for possession of deadly weapon we negotiated a plea for NO JAIL TIME!

    • Client facing 3 life terms for multiple felony counts of Child Molestation and Sodomy with child we proved the charges were fabricated by victims mother DISMISSAL of all charges at preliminary hearing!

    • Strike case: Client charged with possession of methamphetamine facing 25 years we filed a Romero Motion which was granted case REDUCED TO MISDEMEANOR!

    • Client’s estranged girlfriend alleged Client broke into her room and choked her facing 14 years in State Prison we won at trial JURY ACQUITTAL.

    • Police allegedly discovered 3 bags of marijuana in client’s glove box faced 6 years we filed a 1538.5 motion to suppress resulting in DISMISSAL of all charges!

    • Client allegedly sold rock cocaine to undercover officer faced 10 years following our argument client received NO JAIL TIME!

    • Client facing 15 years for Armed Robbery we proved misidentification Judge DISMISSED the case!

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