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Is it illegal to drive without your driver's license in Florida?

Updated: Mar 14, 2023

In the state of Florida, it is illegal to drive without a driver license, even if you just forgot it at home. While it is understandable that people sometimes forget things, you will never to want to forget your license.

When you are in a rush to get out of your house, sometimes you forget things, but there is one thing you never want to forget: your license. In fact, not having your license on your person driving or otherwise are both crimes in Florida.

Driving without a license in the state of Florida

Driving without a license is a serious offense that can result in severe legal penalties. The Florida statute outlines that any person operating a vehicle must have a valid driver’s license. Regardless of your reasoning for not having a license, it is an actionable criminal offense.

What is considered a valid driver's license?

It is important to understand that even if you have your license on you; it doesn’t necessarily mean that it is valid. Therefore, here are some things you should pay attention to so that you ensure you don’t run into an issue.

  • Expiration Date: make sure your license is still within its accepted time frame. If you do drive with an expired license and are caught doing so, this is considered a “willful offense”.

  • Suspension or Revoked License: this may seem like it goes without saying, but if your license has been revoked or suspended, you should not be driving.

  • Home Address: you need to ensure if you moved homes, that you report it to the DMV so they can reissue a license with the correct information.

If you are still unsure if your license is currently valid or not, you can check it on the DMV site itself. These are all important things to note because if you are pulled over and missing any of the following things on your driver's license, it is considered a criminal offense and could result in jail time.

What is the penalty for driving in Florida without a license?

The answer to this question is dependent on your specific situation. While all result in criminal charges, some consequences are more severe than others. Our accident attorneys dive into what can occur if you get into these situations.

Driving with a revoked or suspended license

The statute outlines that in this situation, you are charged based on the number of offenses.

  • First time offense: you can be charged with a second degree misdemeanor

  • Second offense: a third degree misdemeanor

  • Third offense: charged with a felony

Driving without your license physically on you

This offense is still very serious, but the consequences are not as bad as it is for those who committed the action knowing they should not be driving. Since this is regarded as a “correctable offense,” the state may just issue you a ticket. This situation can be fixed by showing proof of a valid license.

What if I have an out-of-state license?

Having an out-of-state license in Florida is not an unusual occurrence, but there are rules relating to when someone moves down to the sunshine state. You have 10 days after you move down to Florida to register your vehicle and 30 days to obtain a valid Florida license.

The process of converting your out-of-state license to a Florida one is very simple, and does not require any additional testing. The Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicle Department provides a list of needs in order to obtain a valid Florida driver’s license.

What happens if I am driving without a license and get into a car accident?

Under Florida Statutes §316.066, car accidents require an official report, especially if death or injury is involved. When law enforcement arrives at the scene of a car accident, the first thing they will request is your license and registration. If you do not have a valid license, you may face the charges that come with that in addition to what happened during the accident.

If I was not at fault, can I still seek compensation for my damages if I did not have my driver’s license on me?

Due to Florida being a no-fault state, you should not have an issue filing a claim with your insurance company for Personal Injury Protection coverages. If you were injured beyond that and were found to not be at fault for the accident, you may be entitled to compensation for lost wages, pain & suffering, and property damages.

How can driving without my license affect my case?

Driving without a license could have significant repercussions for your personal injury protection (PIP) insurance coverage. While it should not stop you from making the claim, it does not guarantee that it will not be denied. Insurance companies can choose to dispute your claim and leave you without coverage.

Additionally, even if another driver caused your accident, driving without a valid license can affect the value of your insurance settlement or trial verdict. Florida law operates on a pure comparative negligence model, as outlined in Florida Statutes§768.81. While the opportunity to file a claim and utilize a personal injury lawyer is there, it does not mean that your case will be valued as highly due to the fact that you did not have your license. When a case like this goes to trial, the court will assess your degree of fault and reduce your verdict by that amount.

Why you should hire a personal injury attorney to help determine your options after a car accident where you did not have your license

If there are any takeaways from this article, it is to never forget your license and that these types of cases are extremely difficult to deal with. Since insurance companies and the court will try to discredit you for not having your license, you will want an experienced accident attorney on your side to help defend you.

That is why you should call Demesmin and Dover Law Firm at 866-954-MORE (6673). The car accident attorneys at the firm will listen to your story, tell you your options, and walk you through the process every step of the way.

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