Driving without License in California

driving without a license in californiaUnder California law, it is prohibited from driving a vehicular without a valid driver’s license. Driving without a license is an offense, however, it is not considered as dangerous as driving with a suspended or revoked license.

Pursuant to California’s driving laws, the licensee driver should have the valid driver’s license issued to him or her in his or her immediate possession at all times when driving a motor vehicle upon a highway. Any charge under this provision must be dismissed, if the person charged:
– produces in court a driver’s license duly issued to that person
– valid at the time of his or her arrest.

However, it should be taken into consideration that upon a third or subsequent charge the court can dismiss the charge only in its discretion. Thus, California Vehicle Code 12500 VC states prohibition from driving without a validly issued driver’s license, but not simply for driving without possession of a valid license.

If a person is caught while driving without a license, it is enough to be charged with committing of the crime. It does not matter whether you knew of its absence or why you did not know it. That is to say even if a driver did not know that the license had expired, he or she would have been charged under California Vehicle Code 12500 VC (Driving without a driver’s license.)

In order to prove that the defendant is guilty of this crime, the prosecutor must prove that:
1. The defendant drove a motor vehicle on a highway
2. When the defendant drove, he or she did not hold a valid California driver’s license.

The term highway describes any area publicly maintained and open to the public for purposes of vehicular travel, and includes a street.
It is the defendant who must produce evidence able to show that he or she did hold a valid driver’s license in California. If the evidence raises a reasonable doubt about whether the defendant held a valid license, the court must find the defendant not guilty of this crime. In addition, it should be noted that a valid driver’s license also means that no person may operate a vehicle without having in possession a valid driver’s license of the appropriate class (i.e., no class A, class B, or class C driver’s license holder may operate a vehicle hauling fissile class III shipments or large quantity radioactive materials).

Under California law, a motor vehicle includes:

  • A passenger vehicle
  • A motorcycle
  • A motor scooter
  • A bus
  • A school bus
  • A commercial vehicle
  • A truck tractor and trailer.

It is up to the prosecutor to decide the incrimination of the offense. It can be charged as a misdemeanor or an infraction. Generally, it depends on the driver’s record as well as circumstances of the offense. The defendant’s aggressive and experienced attorney can use one of the following defenses in order to get the best possible outcome:

In the below table you can find the list of penalties for the breaking California for Vehicle Code 125000 VC depending on whether it is charged as a misdemeanor or an infraction.


  • imprisonment in a county jail for not more than one year


  • by a fine of not less than one thousand dollars ($1,000)


  • by both that fine and imprisonment
  • A possible 30-day impound of your car
  • Informal probation up to three (3) years


  • by a fine of not less than two hundred and fifty dollars ($250)

NOTE: Illegal migrants are prohibited from driving in California as well. It is conditioned the fact that the California Department of Motor Vehicles issues driver’s licenses basing on social security number and federal tax payer identification number. Thus, if a person is located in California illegally, consequently, it means that he or she can no way be a licensee driver.

The Margarian Law Firm aggressively protects the rights of criminal defendants in California. We will help you to understand the various aspects of your case. We are ready to provide answers to your initial questions concerning California charges in  for free. Do not hesitate to contact us!

You may file your request online, by telephone or by mail. 818-553-1000

California Vehicle Code 12500 VC

12500. (a) A 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.

(b) A person may not drive a motorcycle, motor-driven cycle, or motorized bicycle upon a highway, unless the person then holds a valid driver’s license or endorsement issued under this code for that class, except those persons who are expressly exempted under this code, or those persons specifically authorized to operate motorized bicycles or motorized scooters with a valid driver’s license of any class, as specified in subdivision (h) of Section 12804.9.

(c) A person may not drive a motor vehicle in or upon any offstreet parking facility, unless the person then holds a valid driver’s license of the appropriate class or certification to operate the vehicle. As used in this subdivision, “offstreet parking facility” means any offstreet facility held open for use by the public for parking vehicles and includes any publicly owned facilities for offstreet parking, and privately owned facilities for offstreet parking where no fee is charged for the privilege to park and which are held open for the common public use of retail customers.

(d) A person may not drive a motor vehicle or combination of vehicles that is not of a type for which the person is licensed.

(e) A motorized scooter operated on public streets shall at all times be equipped with an engine that complies with the applicable State Air Resources Board emission requirements.

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