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What Happens If I’m Driving Without a License in Texas?

Posted on November 6, 2022 in

If you are in Texas and are driving a car, you had better have a license. Although it’s a misdemeanor, you could face stiff fines and jail time. It’s best to avoid operating a motor vehicle unless you are licensed.

If you are reading this, there is a chance you did not know or did not heed this advice and have been caught driving without a license. You’ll want to contact a Houston criminal defense lawyer immediately. 

Driving Without a License in Texas

This could mean several things, including:

  • An unlicensed driver who has never had a driver’s license stopped while operating a motor vehicle. The driver could be a minor who has taken his parent’s car for a joyride or has skipped the licensing process altogether.
  • Driving after a license has been suspended for financial reasons, such as failure to pay a traffic ticket or taxes.
  • They did not have a driver’s license in their possession. Maybe the driver has misplaced their license or just left it at home. 
  • The driver may have had their driver’s license revoked because of too many traffic violations or for driving under the influence. 
  • The driver was using a vehicle after their license had expired. Texas law expects the license to be up to date. 

All of these are violations, but some will carry a heftier penalty under Texas law.

What Will the Charges Be?

It is a lot easier to make sure you have a valid license. But, if you are stopped after operating a vehicle without one, here’s a little of what you can expect. 

Your car could be impounded. You will likely receive a traffic ticket. If this is the first time you have been stopped for driving without a license, you will be fined $200. A second offense will score you a more significant fine. And if you have a third offense. If you have a third offense, you can expect $500 in fines and possibly six months in prison.

By driving with a license, you can avoid going to jail and paying hefty fines for what is a misdemeanor in Texas. And who needs a criminal record for something that is typically pretty easy to avoid? 

An Even More Complicated Situation

To further complicate matters, have an accident while driving without a license. That’s when the penalties become genuinely severe. Especially if you are a repeat offender, you could face jail time, primarily if a fatality occurs.

But, the driver is often not the only one who takes the heat for not abiding by the law. If the vehicle owner loaned their car to an unlicensed person, they could share responsibility for any damages caused by the driver. If this happens, their insurance will likely pay some of the damages. An incident like this can cause the car owner’s insurance premiums to skyrocket. 

Driving without a license can carry fines and jail time and extend to others who are also held responsible. It is a practice best avoided. But, if you have already been charged, your next step should be contacting Houston criminal defense lawyers today to get the assistance you require while navigating the laws around driving without a license.