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Driving Without a License

Garcia Law Group > Criminal defense main > Driving Without a License

Driving Without a License in California

In California, all drivers (including out-of-state drivers who permanently move to California) are required to have a valid California Driver License.  Driving without a license, VC 12500, is usually charged when a driver:

• Fails to renew a driver license; or

• Never obtains a license; or

• Becomes a California resident and fails to obtain a new driver license within 10 days.


Elements of Driving Without a License

In order to show that a defendant is guilty of driving without a license in violation of VC 12500, the prosecution must establish that:

(1) The defendant drove on a street or highway; AND

(2) At the time of driving, the defendant: (a) The defendant did not hold a valid California driver license; AND (b) The defendant was not exempted from the requirement to have a California driver license.

In California, a “highway” is defined as any “way or place of whatever nature, publicly maintained and open to the use of the public for purposes of vehicular travel. Highway includes street.”


What are some examples of VC 12500 Driving Without a License?

• A driver that has a valid license but forgets to renew and continues to drive; or

• A new out-of-state driver that plans to move permanently to California but fails to obtain a California driver license within 10 days.


So, what happens if you are caught driving without a driver license in California?

If caught driving without a license, you may criminally prosecuted pursuant to California Vehicle Code Section 12500(a) VC. Driving without a license is a “wobbler.”  This means that the offense can be charged as either a misdemeanor or an infraction. If charged as a misdemeanor, the maximum penalty is six (6) months in jail and a $1,000 fine. If charged as an infraction, the maximum penalty is a $250 fine. In many cases, Garcia Law Group has successfully persuaded the prosecution to dismiss or reduce the VC 12500 charge.


What are defenses to driving without a license?

Defenses to driving without a license include:

1. Being licensed at the time of the offense;

2. Extending the case as long as possible to allow you to get a California Driver License;

3. If charged as a misdemeanor, have Garcia Law Group negotiate with the prosecutor to reduce the charge to an infraction; OR

4. Illegal search and/or seizure by the police.


Can undocumented persons obtain a California Driver License?

Yes.  There is a special license called “AB60 license” that can be issued to persons without a social security number. An AB60 license looks very similar to a regular California driver license but is labeled on the top-right corner: “Federal Limits Apply.” An AB60 license allows persons to drive in the state, as long as all other requirements are met. The license can also be used as identification with California law enforcement.


For immediate help fighting your case, Garcia Law Group 323-419-5175



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