Driving without a license in North Carolina is prohibited by law, and those who are caught may face fines or even jail time. The penalty for driving without a license varies, and different factors may influence the penalties you face. This quick guide explains what you need to know.
Ways You Can Be Guilty of Driving Without a License in NC
In North Carolina, you must carry a valid driver’s license whenever you’re operating a motor vehicle. But this isn’t as straightforward as it seems.
“Driving without a license” covers several different scenarios, all of which may result in penalties. The following are all examples of driving without a license:
- Driving without ever having a driver’s license issued to you.
- Driving without your license in possession.
- Driving while your license is suspended or revoked.
- Driving with an expired license.
- Driving with an out-of-state license if you have lived in North Carolina for at least 60 days. This also applies to out-of-state commercial licenses for drivers who have lived in NC for at least 30 days.
- Failing to comply with license restrictions.
‘No Operator’s License’ Infraction
In legal terms, the offense for driving without a license is technically called “no operator’s license” (NOL). You may be subject to an NOL ticket if you drive without your license in your possession, if you drive with an expired license, or if you drive and you never had a valid license issued.
Driving with a revoked license is a more serious charge, and you may face harsher punishments. The offense for this is simply called “driving while license revoked” (DWLR).
Are License Issues Misdemeanors?
In most cases, driving without a license in North Carolina is considered a traffic infraction (NOL), which is not a criminal charge. However, you may face a misdemeanor charge in certain situations.
For example, the following instances may be punished as class 3 misdemeanors:
- Driving without ever having a valid license issued.
- Driving while failing to comply with driver’s license restrictions.
- Allowing an unlicensed person to drive your vehicle.
License issues punished as class 2 misdemeanors can include:
- Driving with a revoked license (DWLR).
- Driving with a suspended license.
- Driving while knowingly using a fake drivers’ license.
What Happens if You Get Caught Driving Without a License in North Carolina?
What happens if you get caught driving without a license? The penalty for driving without a license depends on the exact offense you committed:
- If you receive an NOL infraction, you may face a fine of up to $100. You may also face 3 points on your driving record.
- If convicted with a class 3 misdemeanor for license issues, you may have to pay a $200 fine and spend up to 20 days in jail.
- If convicted of a class 2 misdemeanor, you may have to pay a fine of $1,000 and spend up to 60 days in jail.
Punishment for serious license offenses may also result in your license being suspended or even permanently revoked.
Call a Shelby Criminal Defense Lawyer Now
If you’re facing an NOL infraction or misdemeanor license charge, it’s important to speak with an attorney as soon as possible. Your lawyer can work to get the charges against you reduced and to limit the impact they will have on your life and your finances.