The Crime of Driving Without a License in California

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Under California law, individuals who do not have a valid driver’s license are not allowed to drive on California roads.Vehicle Code Section 12500 provides that unlicensed drivers are not allowed to drive on highways or offstreet parking facilities. Offstreet parking facilities include parking facilities for the public and parking lots for retailers. Drivers of motorcycles or motorized bicycles in California must hold a special class of license, unless they are renting a motorized bicycle for a period of less than 48 hours.Section 12500 can be applied when an individual has moved to California from another state, but has failed to obtain a valid California driver’s license. According to the DMV, once a person has become a California resident, that person has 10 days in which to obtain a California driver’s license. An individual becomes a California resident when he or she votes in a California election, pays California resident tuition, files a homeowner’s property tax exemption, or obtains any other privilege not normally extended to nonresidents.Driving without a license under section 12500 is not as serious as driving with a suspended or revoked license. Driving without a license under 12500 can be an infraction or a misdemeanor, and can be corrected. If you have received several tickets for violating Section 12500, you could have your license suspended or revoked. However, although a violation of section 12500 is not as serious as driving with a suspended or revoked license, if you receive a citation for a violation of section 12500, you should consult a California attorney to insure your legal rights are protected.Driving with a suspended or revoked license, a violation of Vehicle Code Section 14601.1 is more serious. A first offense can result in jail time or a fine of between $300 and $1,000, or both. A second conviction will result in jail time and a large fine.

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