What Happens if I Get Pulled Over Without a Valid License?

June 30, 2022 Criminal Defense

Whenever driving a motor vehicle, the driver must always carry a valid driver’s license in their possession. There are set rules and regulations for an individual receiving their driver’s license to ensure the safety of the roads.

So what happens if you get pulled over by the police and don’t have a valid license? For minors that only hold a learner’s permit, the consequences may only result in a civil citation. However, if the driver has a license that is expired, or a license from another country, it may complicate things with the police.

We will cover the basics of what happens if you have been pulled over without possessing a valid driver’s license.

Driving with a Learner’s Permit in Florida

In the state of Florida, before getting your official driver’s license, a minor can receive a learner’s permit from age 15. Under Florida Statute Section 322.1615, the requirements of obtaining a learner’s permit license are as follows:

  • The 15-year-old passed the written examination for a learner’s driver’s license;
  • The 15-year-old passed the hearing and vision examination to show they can operate a vehicle; and
  • The 15-year-old completed the traffic law and substance abuse education course.

Once the minor has legally obtained a learner’s driver’s license, they are able to drive a motor vehicle if they are accompanied by an adult at least 21-years-old who has a valid driver’s license. In addition, the individual with a learner’s driver’s license can only drive during daylight hours and up until 10 pm under adult supervision.

If a person with a learner’s driver’s license violates any of the above rules and gets in trouble with the police while driving may be subject to a civil penalty. However, depending on whether it was a routine traffic stop or if an accident or hit and run occurred, it can result in criminal charges as well.

Driver Licenses Florida Statute

The unless you have a need for a commercial drivers license, most drivers have a Class E drivers license. A Class E drivers license permits drivers to operate a motor vehicle weighing less than 26,001 pounds, including passenger cars, 15 passenger vans, trucks, or recreational vehicles and two or three wheel motor vehicles 50 cc or less, such as mopeds or small scooters. Under Florida Statute Section 322.12, an applicant for a Class E drivers license must be given an eyesight and hearing test, as well written test to demonstrate knowledge of traffic laws, and a physical driving test. New Floridian residents may be able to receive a Florida drivers license without taking a written or road test.


There are some exemptions for moving vehicles that people do not require a driver’s license. This means an individual would not receive a no valid driver’s license ticket if they are stopped while operating said vehicle. The following is a list of exemptions:

  • Individuals operating a tractor, farm-related machinery, or road machinery
  • Non-residents who are 16 years or older and who possess a valid driver’s license from their own country or state who are operating a vehicle that requires a Class E driver’s license
  • Non-residents who are 18 years or older who possess a valid driver’s license from their own country or state and are operating a non-commercial vehicle
  • Individuals operating a golf cart

Penalties for Driving Without a Valid License

If an individual is accused of a first offense of driving without a valid license, it is considered a second-degree misdemeanor in Florida. The penalties for a “no valid driver’s license” is punishable with up to a $500 fine and up to 60 days in jail. However, if you do have a valid driver’s license, but just forgot your wallet at home, you have options. Under Florida Statute Section 318.18, if you are able to prove that you had a valid license on the date of the offense, then your case can be dismissed for a small fee.

In most cases, getting convicted of driving without a valid license will not result in going to jail. However, it is important to remember that the principal consequence is that it will be marked on your permanent criminal record.

Possible Defenses to the Charge

If you have been pulled over and charged for having “no valid license,” there are still defenses that you can use to fight for your case. To figure out the best possible defense for your particular case, it is important to seek out the assistance of a skilled Florida Criminal defense attorney in your area.

The following is a list of potential defenses to a No Valid Driver’s License charge in Florida:

  • The traffic stop in which the driver received the charge was unlawful
  • The unlawful stop included an unlawful detention of the driver
  • The defendant actually has a valid driver’s license
  • The defendant was a non-resident but holds a foreign driver’s license that was in their possession during the traffic stop
  • The defendant was not driving in a space that was open to the public, including a street or highway
  • There was a lack of evidence against the defendant in claiming they did not have a valid license

Speak with an experienced defense attorney today to figure out which defense works best for your case.

Finding a Defense Attorney in Tallahassee, Florida

Getting pulled over or stopped during a traffic stop is always stressful. The main thing to remember is to always remain calm. Even if you realize you don’t have a valid driver’s license on you, remain respectful with the officers, but remember your rights. Contact a Florida criminal defense attorney to strategize a strong defense for your case. Don Pumphrey and his team at Pumphrey Law Firm have represented clients all across the state of Florida and will work to ensure your freedom. Call (850) 681-7777 or leave an online message today.

Written by Karissa Key

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