Driving Without a License Virginia Code 46.2-300
Common Driver’s License Offenses: Fairfax Traffic Lawyer Covers Basics of 46.2-300
A recent data analysis of public arrest records in Fairfax County revealed 12% of arrests were for violations of Virginia Code Section 46.2-300. There are several other relatively common license-related criminal offenses:
- Driving with a revoked or suspended license (46.2-301)
- Driving after license revoked (result of a DUI or other serious conviction – 18.2-272)
There are some criminal offenses which, if convicted of, always lead to a suspended or revoked license. Learn about these various offenses here.
Virginia Code § 46.2-300, also known as, “Driving without a license," may apply to individuals alleged to have been driving under the following circumstances:
- They have not applied for a license
- They have not passed all or some of the required tests to obtain a driver’s license
- They have no valid license at all
This law tells us that no person can drive a motor vehicle on any “highway" until that individual has attained a lawful license. There are some exemptions, but in general, they are rare (e.g., in some cases, an International License in Virginia may be valid for a period of time).
This law makes it illegal to operate a motor vehicle “on any highway" unless the driver has a valid license. The term, “highway," refers to almost every road…not solely interstate highways. This law also indirectly alludes to the fact that for a license to be valid, the driver must have applied for the license, as well as passed the tests and vision exam as required by law.
Driving without a valid license in the Commonwealth of Virginia is a criminal offense: either a Class 1 or Class 2 misdemeanor.
The severity of fines and potential jail time depends in part, upon whether or not it is a first or subsequent offense.
Regardless of whether the conviction is a first or subsequent offense:
- The court may suspend a driver’s privilege to drive for 90 days
- The conviction will remain on an adult’s public criminal record for life
A first time conviction is considered a criminal Class 2 misdemeanor, and can result in:
- Up to 6 months in jail; and,
- Up to a $1,000 fine.
A subsequent violation is the most serious type of criminal misdemeanor in Virginia: a Class 1 misdemeanor. Possible penalties may be as severe as:
- Up to 12 months in jail; and
- Up to a $2,500 fine.
We encourage any person charged with a violation of this statute in Northern Virginia to speak with a Fairfax criminal defense attorney. Exceptions and Exemptions
Few people and/or vehicles are exempted from the valid license requirement.
- Workers who are conducting road maintenance or construction under the “supervision and control of the Department of Transportation."
In limited instances, operators who are:
- Nonresidents, but validly licensed to drive by the laws of their state or country
- “New resident[s] licensed under laws of another state"
And in some instances, operators:
- Of farm vehicles, tractors and backhoes
- Of vehicles for agriculture purposes
- Of vehicles used by commercial fisherman
- With a validly registered license in other another state when the vehicle is used for harvesting