Marissa Hayes is a technical editor and contributing writer. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in history, and she was the editor of the literary magazine, The Bluestone Review.

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Dan Walker graduated with a BS in Administrative Management in 2005 and has been working in his family’s insurance agency, FCI Agency, for 15 years. He is licensed as an agent to write property and casualty insurance, including home, auto, umbrella, and dwelling fire insurance. He’s also been featured on sites like Reviews.com.

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Licensed Car Insurance Agent Daniel Walker

UPDATED: Mar 3, 2022

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The Short of It

  • Driving without a license is a misdemeanor in some states
  • Some states have fines up to $5,000 for driving without a license
  • Multiple offenses of driving without a license could turn into a felony

Did you know that your state can suspend or revoke your driving privileges for driving without a license? Most areas in the United States have a strong stance against unlicensed drivers.

But what happens if you get pulled over without a license? And how much are penalties after being caught without a license? Don’t worry – we’ll answer all your questions.

Our guide explains what happens when you drive without a license and auto insurance coverage. We’ll also explore ways you can get insurance with no license and vice versa.

Continue reading to learn what happens if you drive without a license. If you’re ready to compare multiple insurance companies in your area, enter your ZIP code in the free comparison tool.

What happens if you’re caught driving without a license?

If you’re caught without a driver’s license, a police officer could tow your vehicle to impound and write you a ticket for driving without a license. Some states issue steep fines, but if you’re caught driving without a license multiple times, you can receive time in your local jail.

But a judge would dismiss your case if you get your license before a court date or present your license during your court hearing.

What happens if you get caught driving without a license varies for each situation. Having a licensed driver in the car with you could prevent you from getting a ticket. However, driving alone without a license has consequences.

Can you drive without a license?

Yes, you can. However, specific situations allow you to drive as an unlicensed driver. For example, a teen driver practicing with a parent or legal guardian can drive without a license.

Some emergencies require some people to drive even if they don’t have a license, but the probability is low. In most cases, unlicensed drivers must have a licensed driver with them to be permitted to drive.

What if you forgot your driver’s license at home?

One of the ways you can prove that you have a valid driver’s license is by showing your vehicle registration. Your driver’s license number should be on your car’s registration.

If you forget your registration, you’ll receive a ticket for no driver’s license or registration while operating a motor vehicle. Show proof of both when you go to court to get your charges dismissed.

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Can you go to jail for driving without a license?

Yes, you can. You’ll likely receive a fine if it’s your first offense. But multiple violations of unlicensed driving can become felony offenses in some states.

Let’s examine the latest information from the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) to determine how much you’ll pay for fines and what penalties come with driving without a license.

Penalties and Fines for Driving Without A License by State
StatesPenalties for First OffensePenalties for Subsequent OffensesFees
AlabamaPossible imprisonment for no more than 180 days and immediate vehicle impoundment. Possible license suspension increase by 6 months.N/AMisdemeanor: $100-$500
AlaskaFirst Offense - Class A Misdemeanor: 10 day suspended imprisonment provided at least 80 hours of community service are completed; possible forfeiture of vehicle; license suspension increased by at least 90 days.Subsequent Offense -Class A Misdemeanor: Imprisonment for at least 10 days; possible forfeiture of vehicle; license suspension increased by at least 90 days.N/A
ArizonaClass 1 Misdemeanor - Imprisonment for up to 6 months; possible vehicle impoundment for up to 30 daysDriving on a suspended or revoked license - Class 2 misdemeanor This charge carries a potential sentence of 4 months in jail and fines of up to $750.N/A
ArkansasImprisonment for between 2 days and 6 monthsShall extend the period of the suspension for an additional like period and, if the conviction was upon a charge of driving while a license was revoked, the office shall not issue a new license for an additional period of one (1) year from and after the date such person would otherwise have been entitled to apply for a new license.Misdemeanor: Fine no more than $500
CaliforniaImprisonment for between 5 days and 6 monthsSubsequent Offense - Imprisonment for between 10 days and 1 year; $500-$2000 fine.$300-$1,000 Fine
ColoradoImprisonment for no more than 6 months, license suspension increased by 1 year.
If the license restraint is due to an alcohol related offense there is a mandatory 30 days to 1 year in jail for a first offense. Minimum fine of $500 to $1,000.
Subsequent Offense - Driver ineligible to be issued a driver’s license for a period of three years.
A second alcohol-based driving under restraint will result in a mandatory 90-day to 2-year jail sentence. Minimum fine of $500 to $3,000.
Misdemeanor - No more than $500
ConnecticutImprisonment for no more than 3 monthsSubsequent Offense - Imprisonment for no more than 1 year, $200-$600 fine, or both.$150 - $200
DelawareImprisonment for between 30 days and 6 months. Possible vehicle impoundment of at least 90 daysSubsequent Offense - Imprisonment for between 60 days and 1 year; $1,000-$4,000 fine; possible vehicle impoundment of at least 1 year.$500-$1,000
District of ColumbiaImprisonment for no more than 1 yearN/A$2,500
FloridaFirst Offense -2nd Degree Misdemeanor: Imprisonment for no more than 60 days or $500 fineSecond Offense -1st Degree Misdemeanor: Imprisonment for no more than 1 year or $1,000 fine.Subsequent Offense- 3rd Degree Felony: Imprisonment for no more than 5 years or $5,000 fine. Immediate vehicle impoundment.Misdemeanor $500 - $5,000
GeorgiaFirst Offense - Misdemeanor: Imprisonment for between 2 days and 1 year; possible additional fine of no more than $1,000.Second or Third Offenses - High and Aggravated Misdemeanor: Imprisonment for between 10 days and 1 year; possible additional fine of $1,000-$2,500. Fourth or Subsequent Offenses - Felony: Imprisonment for 1-5 years; possible addition fine of $2,500-$5,000.Misdemeanor - $500 -$5,000
HawaiiFirst Offense - Imprisonment for 3-30 days; $250-$1,000 fine; license suspension increased by 1 year; additional, inapplicable penalties.Second Offense - Imprisonment for 30 days; $1,000 fine; license suspension increased by 2 years; additional. Subsequent Offense - Imprisonment for 1 year, $2,000 fine. permanent license revocation; Additional, inapplicable penalties.$250-$2,000
IdahoFirst Offense - Misdemeanor: Imprisonment for between 2 days and 6 months; fine of no more than $1,000; license suspension increased by 180 days.Second Offense - Imprisonment for between 20 days and 1 year; fine of no more than $1,000; license suspension increased by 1 year. Subsequent Offense - Imprisonment for between 30 days and 1 year; fine of no more than $3,000; license suspension increased by 2 years.Misdemeanor - $1,000 -$3,000
IllinoisFirst Offense - Class A Misdemeanor: Imprisonment for no more than 1 year; fine of no more than $2,500.Subsequent Offense - Class 4 Felony: Imprisonment for 1-3 years; fine of up to $25,000. Possible vehicle impoundment. Fourth or Subsequent Offenses - Possible seizure of license plate; possible vehicle immobilization.Misdemeanor - $2,500 -$25,000
IndianaClass 6 Felony - Imprisonment for between 6 months and 2 years, 6 months; fine of no more than $10,000.N/AFelony - No more than $10,000
IowaLicense suspension increased for an additional like period or for one year, whichever is shorter.N/AMisdemeanor - $250 -$1,500
KansasFirst Offense - Class B Nonperson Misdemeanor: Imprisonment for at least 5 days; fine of at least $100.Subsequent Offense - Class A Nonperson Misdemeanor: Imprisonment without eligibility for parole until completion of 5 days; fine of at least $100. License suspension increased by 90 days.Misdemeanor: $100
KentuckyFirst Offense - Class B Misdemeanor: Imprisonment up to 90 days; license suspension increased by 6 months. Fine up to $250Second Offense - Class A Misdemeanor: Imprisonment for between 90 days and 1 year; license suspension increased by 1 year. Third or Subsequent Offense - Class D Felony: Imprisonment for 1-5 years; license suspension revoked for additional 2 years.Misdemeanor: Up to $250
LouisianaPerson with a Class D or E driver’s license: Imprisonment for no more than 6 months, fine of no more than $500, or both. May be subject to a civil penalty of up to $1,250. Person with a Class A, B, or C driver’s license: Imprisonment for no more than 6 months, fine of no more than $5,000, or both. May be subject to a civil penalty of up to $2,500.Subsequent Offense - Imprisonment for between 7 days and 6 months; fine of $300-$500; potential civil fine of no more than $1,150. Subsequent Offense - Class A, B, or C driver’s license: Imprisonment for between 7 days and 6 months; fine of $300-$500; potential civil fine of no more than $2,500. License suspension increased by 1 year$500-$2,500
MaineFirst Offense – Class E: Crimes punishable by up to six months incarceration and a $1,000 fineN/AClass E Crime: Up to $1,000
MarylandFirst Offense - Misdemeanor: Imprisonment for no more than 1 year, fine of no more than $1,000, or both; possible license suspension increased by no more than 1 year.Subsequent Offense - Misdemeanor Imprisonment for no more than 2 years, fine of no more than $1,000, or both; possible license suspension increased by no more than 18 months if second offense, no more than 2 years for subsequent offenses. Possible vehicle impoundment.Misdemeanor - $1,000
MassachusettsFirst Offense - Imprisonment for no more than 10 days, $500-$1,000 fine, or bothSubsequent Offense - Imprisonment for between 60 days and 1 year. License suspension increased by 60 days.Misdemeanor - $500 -$1,000
MichiganFirst Offense - Misdemeanor: Imprisonment for no more than 93 days, a fine of no more than $500, or both.Second Offense - Misdemeanor: Imprisonment for no more than 1 year, a fine of no more than $1,000, or both. Cancellation of vehicle’s registration plates.License suspension increased by like period.Misdemeanor - $500 -$1,000
MinnesotaMisdemeanor - Imprisonment for no more than 90 days, fine of no more than $1,000, or both.N/AMisdemeanor - No more than $1,000
MississippiMisdemeanor - Imprisonment for between 48 hours and 6 months; $200-$500 fine; license suspension increased by 6 months.N/AMisdemeanor - $200 -$500
MissouriFirst Offense - Class D Misdemeanor: Up to $500 fine. No set term of imprisonment; not to exceed one year.Second Offense - Class A Misdemeanor: Fine not to exceed $2,000. Imprisonment for between 6 months and 1 year. Subsequent Offense - Class E Felony: Imprisonment for no more than 4 years.N/A
MontanaFirst Offense – Fine not to exceed $500 and term of imprisonment not to exceed 6 months.Imprisonment for no less than 2 days and not to exceed 6 months, license suspension increased by 1 year, vehicle used is seized and rendered inoperable for 30 days.Misdemeanor - No more than $500
NebraskaFirst Offense - Class II Misdemeanor: Unable to operate any motor vehicle for 1 year; license revocation for like period.Second or Third Offense - Class II Misdemeanor: Unable to operate any motor vehicle for 2 year; license revocation for like period. Fourth or Subsequent Offense - Class I Misdemeanor: Unable to operate any motor vehicle for 2 year; license revocation for like period.N/A
NevadaImprisonment for no more than 6 months, a fine of no more than $1,000, or both. If license suspended, extension of suspension by like period. If license (revoked), extension of period of ineligibility for license by 1 year.N/AMisdemeanor - No more than $1,000
New HampshireMisdemeanor - Imprisonment for a period not less than 7 consecutive 24-hour periods to be served within 6 months of the conviction, fine of no more than $1,000; license suspension increased by 1 year.N/AMisdemeanor - No more than $1,000
New JerseyFirst Offense - $500 fine.Second Offense - Imprisonment for 1-5 days; $750 fine. Subsequent Offense - Imprisonment for 10 days; $1,000 fine. License suspension increased by no more than 6 months.$500-$1,000
New MexicoImprisonment for 4-364 days; possible fine of no more than $1,000. Possible vehicle immobilization.N/AMisdemeanor - No more than $1,000
New YorkFirst Offense - Imprisonment for no more than 30 days, $200-$500 fine, or both.Subsequent Offens - : Imprisonment for no more than 180 days; fine of no less than $500.Misdemeanor - $250 -$500
North CarolinaFirst Offense - Class 3 Misdemeanor - Imprisonment for 1-10 days; fine of no more than $200; license suspension increased by 1 year.Second Offense - License suspension increased by 2 years. Third Offense - Permanent license suspension.Misdemeanor - No more than $300
North DakotaFirst, Second or Third Offense - Class B Misdemeanor: Imprisonment for no more than 30 days, $1,500 fine, or both.Fourth or Subsequent Offense - Class A Misdemeanor - Imprisonment for no more than 1 year, $3,000 fine, or both.Possible destruction of license plate.Misdemeanor - $1,500 -$3,000
OhioFirst Offense - Unclassified Misdemeanor: Fine of no more than $1,000; 500 hours community service.Subsequent Offense - 1st Degree Misdemeanor: Imprisonment for no more than 180 days; $1,000 fine. Possible license plate impoundment.Misdemeanor - $1,000
OklahomaFirst Offense - $100-$500 fine.Second Offense): $200-$750 fine. Subsequent Offense - Imprisonment for no more than 1 year, $300-$1,000 fine, or both.Misdemeanor - $50-$1,000
OregonClass A Traffic Infraction: $220-$2,000 fine. Possible vehicle impoundment.N/A$220-$2,000
PennsylvaniaSummary Offense: $200 fine; license suspension increased by 1 year if originally suspended, 2 years if it was originally revoked.N/A$200
Rhode IslandFirst Offense - Misdemeanor: Imprisonment for no more than 30 days; $250-$500 fine; license suspension increased by 3 months.Subsequent Offense - Imprisonment for no more than 1 year; $350-$1,000 fine; 2nd Offense - license suspension increased by 6 months, license revoked.Misdemeanor - $250-$1,000
South CarolinaFirst Offense - Imprisonment for no more than 30 days, $300 fine, or both.Second Offense - Imprisonment for no more than 60 days, $600 fine, or both. Subsequent Offense - Imprisonment for no more than 90 days; $1,000 fine.$300-$1,000
South DakotaRevoked - Class 1 Misdemeanor: Imprisonment for no more than 1 year; fine of no more than $2,000. Suspended or Cancelled - Class 2 Misdemeanor: Imprisonment for no more than 30 days; fine of no more than $500.N/AMisdemeanor - No more than $2,000
TennesseeFirst Offense - Class B Misdemeanor: Imprisonment for not more than 6 months, fine of no more than $500, or both; license suspension increased by like period of time.Subsequent Offense - Class A Misdemeanor: Imprisonment for not more than 11 months, 29 days, fine of no more than $2,500, or both; license suspension increased by like period of time.Misdemeanor - $500 -$2,500
TexasFirst Offense - Class C Misdemeanor: Fine of no more than $500.Subsequent Offense - Class B Misdemeanor: Imprisonment for no more than 180 days, fine of no more than $2,000, or both.Misdemeanor - $500 -$2,000
UtahClass C Misdemeanor: Imprisonment of no more than 90 days; up to $750 fine.N/AMisdemeanor - $1,000
VermontFirst Offense - Imprisonment for no more than 2 years, fine of no more than $5,000, or both.Sixth or Subsequent Offense - Imprisonment for no more 2 years, fine of $5,000, or both. Possible seizure of license plates.No more than $5,000
VirginiaClass 1 Misdemeanor - Imprisonment for no more than 12 months, fine of no more than $2,500, or both.N/AMisdemeanor - No more than $2,500
WashingtonGross Misdemeanor - Imprisonment for no more than 364 days, fine of no more than $5,000, or both.N/AMisdemeanor - No more than $5,000
West VirginiaFirst Offense Misdemeanor - $100-$500 fine.Second Offense - Misdemeanor: $100-$500 fine. Third or Subsequent Offense - Misdemeanor: Imprisonment for 30-90 days; $150-$500 fine.Misdemeanor - $100 -$500
WisconsinSuspended - $50-$200 fine. Revoked - Fine of no more than $2,500.Vehicle may be impoundedN/A$50-$2,500
WyomingMisdemeanor - Imprisonment for no more than 6 months, fine of no more than $750, or both.N/AMisdemeanor - $750
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You’ll receive several penalties for driving without a license regardless of the state. All states issue severe consequences to drivers who repeat the same infractions with jail time, revoked driving privileges, and costly fines.

If you’re caught driving without a license in another state, you’ll be prosecuted based on the laws in that respective state. So, you’ll need to appear in court or pay the fine by mail.

What’s the penalty for unlicensed drivers under 18 years old?

Minors would face the same penalties as any other driver. Parents and legal guardians may also be responsible in specific situations.

Is driving without a license a felony?

It depends on where you live. A driver with multiple misdemeanors for driving without a license can get a felony. State courts are strict on drivers who commit the same crime multiple times. Therefore, a repeat offender will likely receive 30 days or more for driving without a license several times.

How do you get your driver’s license back?

If you recently lost your driver’s license, there’s a way you can get it back. First, follow the court’s instructions. This may include getting insurance, taking a defensive driving course, paying a fine, or completing community service.

Next, report to your local DMV and let them know that you’ve completed the court order to reinstate your license. Prepare to pay renewal and license fees.

If you need a hardship driver’s license, you’ll need special permission from the DMV. But your driving privileges will be restricted.

For instance, your hardship driver’s license may permit you to drive to and from locations that are considered essential, such as daycare, the grocery store, school, or work.

What happens if you get caught with no insurance?

Getting caught driving without auto insurance carries a fine between $100 and $5,000, depending on the state where you live. Law enforcement can impound your vehicle and issue a traffic ticket for driving uninsured.

If you can get a car insurance policy before going to court, your fine could be reduced to zero, and your traffic violation could be dismissed. Buying insurance may also be a requirement to keep your driver’s license.

It’s safer for you to have an auto insurance policy before you start driving. Therefore, we recommend that you purchase insurance as soon as possible to avoid misdemeanor charges.

Can you get auto insurance with a suspended driver’s license?

It depends on why your license was suspended. If your driver’s license was suspended or revoked because you’re uninsured, you must buy insurance.

But a car insurance company may not accept your request for coverage if you have a suspended license from DUIs, traffic violations, or accidents. If you can’t find an insurance policy within 60 days, go to your local DMV and request help to locate an auto insurance plan.

How do you get your driver’s license back after being caught with no insurance?

Follow your state statutes. In other words, if the state requires that you buy a policy, get SR-22 certification, or pay a fine, you should meet each requirement as follows.

It could take at least 10 days for you to get your license back. However, each person is different. It could take a year or longer for you to get your driving privileges back for more severe offenses.

Will auto insurance rates be more expensive if you lose your driver’s license?

Yes, it will. If you lose your license because you were driving while uninsured, you’ll be placed in a high-risk pool. High-risk drivers pay significantly more than average.

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Driving Without a License: The Bottom Line

If you want to know how to drive without a license legally, you’ll have to look at your state law. Driving without a licensed driver with you leads to fines, suspended license, and possible jail time.

In addition to a misdemeanor, you’ll be placed in the high-risk pool. Driver’s convicted of driving without a license are high-risk drivers that pay significantly more for car insurance. But you’re still eligible for auto insurance discounts.

Now that you’ve seen the penalties for driving without a license, use our free online quote tool to compare quotes from multiple companies near you.