Driving Without a License in Los Angeles
Most drivers know how it feels when a police officer pulls them over. The sight of that flashing blue light in the rearview mirror is always a terrifying experience. Even if they don't think they did anything wrong, just getting stopped congers up images of being carried off to jail. Regardless of the reason for being pulled over, failing to present a valid driver's license to an officer in LA can lead to charges. Several factors determine how serious those charges are.
Crimes are classified according to their severity. Generally, the more serious a crime is, the harsher the penalties are that it imposes. Basically, crimes range as follows:
- Infractions - These are the mildest crimes and are sometimes called a "petty offense." Infractions usually don't carry jail time. Examples include traffic violations or fishing without a license.
- Misdemeanors- These crimes are more serious than infractions, sometimes resulting in jail time and higher fines. Some examples of misdemeanors include petty theft or public intoxication. There is a lot of flexibility in how states handle misdemeanors.
- Felonies - These are the most serious crimes. While driving without a license in Los Angeles is considered criminal, it is not punishable as a felony.
Driving without a license in Los Angeles is a “wobbler” offense. The prosecutor has the right to charge offenders with either an infraction or a misdemeanor. The determination is usually based primarily on their driving history.
Misdemeanors vs. Infractions
Lesser penalties are one reason to hope for an infraction rather than a misdemeanor. Another reason is that an infraction isn't usually listed on a person's driving history. Although a misdemeanor is much less serious than a felony, it still carries stiffer penalties than an infraction.
Los Angeles prosecutors might charge a first-time offender with an infraction for driving without a license. The offender must pay a fine of up to $250 in addition to any fees and receives no jail time.
If it is a repeat offense, or if the offender's driver's license is already suspended, they'll probably be charged with a misdemeanor. The penalties will be much more severe. Los Angeles imposes up to six months of jail time and up to $1,000 in fines, along with any related fees. The court might also impound the offender's vehicle for up to 30 days and give them up to three years of informal probation. It's easy to see how important it is to find an experienced criminal defense attorney to help get the charges reduced.
What If You Forget Your Driver's License?
Los Angeles takes driving without a license seriously. It's easy to forget a wallet or purse when rushing off to an engagement. Once the driver is stopped and doesn't have their license, it doesn't matter what their reason is. Whether they are driving with a revoked license or they forgot it at home, the process is the same.
Criminal defense attorneys use several arguments to help their clients. Their primary goal is to get the charges reduced or dropped. One of the most common defenses is that the person had a valid driver's license but didn't have it with them at the time. Other common defenses include:
- Their client wasn't driving at the time.
- Their client was legally exempt from the driver's license requirement.
- Their client was visiting from another state and holds a valid driver's license in their home state or country.
An experienced attorney can argue to have the driver's time extended to obtain their license. They may be able to have the misdemeanor dropped to an infraction. The prosecutor might even drop the charges completely.
Driving with a Suspended or Revoked License
Driving on a suspended or revoked license in Los Angeles is a misdemeanor. The courts in LA do not suspend driving privileges for more than two years. In addition, they take the issue of personal hardship into consideration. That means drivers aren't likely to commit this crime due to personal necessity.
The specific punishment depends on the reason for the suspension or revoked license. For instance, if the license is revoked due to DUI charges, the offender will receive the maximum penalties. The penalties are also harsher for multiple offenses.
When Illegal Immigrants Drive Without a License
Only those people who are in The United States legally have access to a driver's license. As a result, illegal immigrants caught driving without a license are often jailed for minor traffic offenses. There is no way for them to go to work without driving illegally. Defending these clients is especially challenging to the criminal defense attorney. If they can't have their charges reduced or dismissed, it can prevent them from ever obtaining citizenship or a Green Card.
Hiring a Criminal Defense Attorney
Driving without a license is a crime in Los Angeles. The punishment depends on the type of crime prosecutors choose to charge you with. Hiring an experienced criminal attorney is essential for getting the best resolution to your case.
William S. Kroger is a Los Angeles criminal defense attorney who has handled thousands of criminal cases. He is 100% devoted to the criminal defense of his clients. He takes a one-on-one approach to counsel clients, and he knows how to help get your charges dismissed or reduced. Contact Attorney William Kroger today and schedule a free and confidential consultation to discuss your case.