California Vehicle Code 12500 a vc states that you cannot drive in California without a valid driver’s license.
However, in order to be a valid driver’s license, it does not have to necessarily be issued by the California DMV. In order to be valid it needs to be a valid driver’s license from the state you live in and must be applicable to the type of vehicle you are driving (for example: car, motorcycle, or commercial truck).
Driving without a license is a misdemeanor even though it is considered a relatively minor offense.
If you are convicted it will appear on your criminal record.
Fortunately, there are legal defenses available to you if you are cited for driving without a license. In order to avoid a criminal conviction it is recommended that you seek a consultation with a criminal defense attorney who can help get the charge reduced to an infraction or possible dismissed completely.
You can be charged with Vehicle Code 12500 vc if you get caught driving under certain circumstances, including:
- Never having obtained a driver’s license
- Failure to renew your driver’s license after expiration
- Established residency in California and failed to obtain a driver’s license in California
- You are ineligible to receive a driver’s license in this state
How is driving without a license proven?
In order to prove that you are guilty of driving without a valid driver’s license the prosecutor must prove that you were driving on a street or highway and that at the time of driving you did not hold a valid driver’s license.
It is important to understand that courts have ruled that whether or not you are licensed is a matter within your own knowledge, the prosecution really does not have to prove that you were not licensed, the prosecution simply has to allege that you were not licensed and it is up to you to prove that you were.
The idea is that the defendant can more easily prove that he or she is licensed than it is for the prosecution to establish that the defendant was not licensed.
It is important to understand that the law penalizes driving without a validly issue license.
If you do have a valid driver’s license but you simply did not have it in your possession when you were stopped, this is an infraction. It is possible to have this infraction dismissed if you can provide proof that you were a validly licensed driver at the time the offense occurred.
The best way to beat a charge
The best way to beat a charge of driving without a license is to prove that you were, in fact, licensed. If that isn’t possible you may be able to ask a criminal defense attorney how long your case can be postponed so that you can obtain a license.
Unless you are a multiple offender you will likely be allowed this courtesy.