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Driving Without a License Versus Driving Without a License on Your Person

Posted in New York Law on July 11, 2022

There is a big difference between driving without a license and driving without a license on your person. Driving without a license means driving on a license that has been suspended or revoked. Alternatively, your license might have simply expired, and you never bothered to renew it. It might also mean you have never attempted to obtain a driver’s license.

Driving without a license on your person means your license is valid, but you left it at home or at the dry cleaners, lost it somewhere, etc. Driving without a license is a crime that could land you in jail, while driving without a license on your person is not a serious offense.

Penalties for Driving Without a License

Under Section 509 of New York’s Vehicle Traffic Code, first-offense driving without a license in New York is a misdemeanor offense with a penalty of:

  • A fine of $40 to $300 ($40 applies to people who simply let their license expire); and/or
  • Up to 15 days in jail.

Subsequent offenses result in more serious punishment, including fines of up to $5,000, vehicle impoundment, imprisonment, and probation.

Penalties for Driving Without a License on Your Person

The likely consequence of driving without a license on your person is that the officer will issue you a citation. It will probably be canceled or reduced if you bring your driver’s license (valid at the time you received your citation) to a certain office, probably the local courthouse.

Moving into New York From Another State

If you move into New York to become a resident, you must get a New York driver’s license within 30 days. Failure to do so will amount to driving without a license the next time you get behind the wheel of your car. Do remember, though, that if you are coming to New York to study (at a university, for example), you are normally not considered a New York resident, and you do not need to obtain a New York driver’s license.

Personal Injury Claim Consequences

Driving on a suspended license, or driving without your valid license with you, is not negligent with respect to a car accident or other personal injury claim, even though it is against the law. There is a certain argument that “Without a driver’s license, you shouldn’t have been on the road anyway. And if you hadn’t been, the accident wouldn’t have happened; therefore, you caused the accident.” This argument will probably not fly in any court in New York.

Failure to maintain or to possess a valid driver’s license is not negligence–running a stop light is negligence. If you do negligently run a stop light and cause an accident, the fact that you were driving without a license will increase the amount of trouble you will face, but it shouldn’t affect the outcome of your personal injury claim.

Driving Without a Licence and Insurance Coverage

It is possible in New York to get auto insurance coverage without a driver’s license. It’s a fairly good bet, however, that someone who would be irresponsible enough to drive without a license would not bother purchasing liability insurance on their vehicle, even though New York law requires it. This could put you in a bind if some such person injures you or kills your loved one in a traffic accident. Even if you win your claim, who will pay it?

Contact a Lawyer

If you are facing a charge for driving without a license, you need to talk to a lawyer. Your need for a lawyer is especially acute if you suffered a personal injury in an accident in which you were driving without a license. You won’t necessarily lose your personal injury claim. In fact, you might end up far ahead financially, even if you still have criminal charges to resolve.

Contact Our Car Accident Law Firm in New York, NY

If you need legal assistance, contact the New York City car accident lawyers at Law Offices of Jay S. Knispel Personal Injury Lawyers at your nearest location to schedule a free consultation.

We have two convenient locations in New York:

Law Offices of Jay S. Knispel Personal Injury Lawyers – New York City Office
450 7th Ave #1605
New York, NY 10123
(212) 564-2800

Law Offices of Jay S. Knispel Personal Injury Lawyers – Brooklyn Office
26 Court St Suite 2511
Brooklyn, NY 11242
(718) 802-1600

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