In Arizona, the consequences for driving without a license depends on the context of the situation. There are four situations where a driver may be cited for driving without a license:
- The driver never obtained a driver’s license
- The driver is licensed but doesn’t have their ID when pulled over
- The driver’s license is expired
- The driver’s license has been suspended or revoked
In the first three examples the driver may be charged with a class 2 misdemeanor, though a simple $120 fine is the most common penalty. Licensed drivers who are caught driving without their ID can usually get the charge or fine dismissed by appearing in court and proving they were properly licensed at the time.
Driving on a suspended or revoked license is a more serious offense. Most drivers caught in this situation will be charged with a class 1 misdemeanor, though you may face a felony charge for driving under the influence with a suspended license.
Driving Without a License in Arizona
In most cases, “driving without a license” refers to licensed drivers who forget to carry their driver’s license. While this is a simple, fairly innocent mistake, the law is clear that Arizona drivers must carry identification that contains the driver’s:
- Full name
- Date of birth
- Residential address
- Biological traits including gender, weight, height, and eye color
As long as the police officer can find your information in their patrol car’s computer, getting caught driving without your license will result in a $120 fine. As long as you show up in court and prove that you were properly licensed (i.e. show the judge your license), that fine should be dismissed.
However, if you’re driving without a license because you never obtained a license from the MVD, you may face the full penalties of a class 2 misdemeanor.
Driving With an Expired License in Arizona
Arizona driver’s licenses don’t expire until the holder turns 65, so driving with an expired license is usually only an issue for seniors. If you can demonstrate that your failure to renew your driver’s license was an honest mistake, you should be able to talk the judge down from a class 2 misdemeanor to the basic $120 fine.
The same goes for drivers who are visiting Arizona from another state, and are caught driving with an expired license. Renew your license with your home state and prove it was an honest mistake, and you should be able to get away with a simple $120 fine.
Driving With a Suspended or Revoked License in Arizona
Here’s where driving without a license in Arizona can turn into a serious problem. When you’re caught driving with a suspended or revoked license, a class 1 misdemeanor is par for the course.
An experienced criminal law attorney may be able to get the charges against you reduced, dropped, or dismissed, though that depends on the unique circumstances of your case. Sometimes, striking a plea agreement to plead guilty in exchange for minimal penalties may be your best option.
Keep in mind that driving with a suspended license runs a serious risk of extending your suspension period or resulting in a complete revocation of driving privileges. If your license was suspended or revoked due to a DUI, you’ll likely face higher fees.
Penalties for Driving Without a License in Arizona
Individuals who are caught driving without a license or with an expired license may face the following penalties under a class 2 misdemeanor:
Individuals who are caught driving with a suspended or revoked license may face the following penalties under a class 1 misdemeanor:
- Up to six months in jail
- Up to $2,500 in fines
- Up to three years of probation
- Community service
- Prolonged license suspension
- Impounding your vehicle for up to 30 days
Individuals who are arrested for a DUI while driving with a suspended or revoked license may face felony charges, and should consult with an attorney as soon as possible.
Possible Defenses for Driving Without a License in Arizona
The most common defense for driving without a license in Arizona — other than simply forgetting your license at home — is that you were unaware that your license was expired suspended, or revoked. Sometimes this happens when your auto insurance lapses, you fail to pay court-ordered fines, or you fail to appear for a scheduled court date.
With the help of an experienced attorney, you may also be able to argue that your license was unlawfully suspended or revoked. Of course, the best time to fight against a suspended or revoked license is before you get caught driving without a license, so it’s best to address this issue as soon as possible.
FAQs About Driving Without a License in Arizona
Q: What happens if you get caught driving without a license in Arizona?
In most cases, the police officer will issue a traffic citation and order you to appear in court. If you’re driving on a suspended or revoked license, the police officer may also impound your vehicle. You will only be arrested if you’re also charged with driving under the influence.
Q: How much is a no-license ticket in Arizona?
Traffic citations for driving without a license in Arizona are typically $120.
Q: Is driving without a license a felony in Arizona?
Normally, driving without a license is a misdemeanor offense. It’s only a felony when you’re charged with a DUI while driving on a suspended license.
What to Do if You’re Charged With Driving Without a License in Arizona
People who are caught driving with an expired license or who left their license at home should be able to get the penalty dropped to a $120 (or dismissed entirely) by simply appearing in court.
People who are caught driving with a suspended or revoked license should consult with a defense lawyer before appearing in court. You may be able to clear the charges by proving it was an honest mistake, but there’s much more at stake in these cases that shouldn’t be left to chance.
Call the JacksonWhite Criminal Law team at (480) 467-4370 to discuss your case today.