It’s happened to all of us – at least once. You’re driving along or pulling up to the drive-up window at the fast food place only to realize you don’t have your wallet with you. Our first reaction is sudden panic as we try to remember where we left it or worse – if we lost it.
Chances are it wasn’t lost or stolen. You just left it at home and forgot to take it with you. Either way, you now have to maneuver through your day and on your way home without being stopped by a local cop or State Highway Patrol. That’s because, in Louisiana, as in other states, driving without a driver’s license is considered a no-no.
Three Categories of Driving Without a License
Driving without a license can fall into three possible categories. And, if you’re unlucky enough to be pulled over for a traffic infraction to or from work, you’ll be presented with the unenviable opportunity to explain to the cop one of the following three scenarios why you are driving without a valid driver’s license:
- You have a valid driver’s license, but you don’t have it in your possession. This happens more often than you think. It simply means you’re legally licensed to operate a motor vehicle in Louisiana, but you’re claiming the “oops excuse”. However, without proper proof, the cop may have to take your word for it. While it’s generally an infraction that may be dismissed once you prove to the court you possessed a valid driver’s license at the time you were stopped, you could still have to pay a fine in addition to the fine for the traffic violation.
- You never bothered to apply for a driver’s license or your license expired.
This is more serious. According to the Louisiana Motor Vehicle Code, “No person shall drive or operate any vehicle upon any highway within this state unless and until he has been issued a license”. A person doing so may be subject to a fine of up to $500 and forced to obtain a valid driver’s license and valid auto insurance, if they wish to further operate a vehicle in the state of Louisiana.
- Your driver’s license was cancelled, revoked or suspended by the authorities.
This can be due to a major violation such as a DUI, reckless driving or racing, resulting in death or serious injury. Regardless of the reason, according to state law, “a driver with a Class D (chauffeur) or E license (personal) may be subject to up to a $500 fine and maximum six months in jail”. Furthermore, “drivers with Class A, B or C (commercial) licenses may be subject to a $5,000 fine and no more than six months in jail”. And, if you’re a repeat offender, you will be subject to even stiffer fines and penalties.
In the last two categories, you’ll likely also be cited for driving without auto insurance.
Fighting the Charge
Your odds of successfully fighting the charge of “driving without a license” are greatly diminished by the category you fall into. If all you need to do is prove to the court you had a valid driver’s license at the time of your offense, but just didn’t have it with you, your chances of walking away relatively unscathed are fairly good.
On the other hand, if the charge falls into categories 2 or 3, you’ll have a much tougher time. And, depending on the circumstances, you may want to pursue legal advice from an attorney – especially if you’re facing considerable jail time.
Driver’s Licenses for Undocumented Immigrants
In Louisiana, undocumented immigrants are not permitted to obtain a driver’s license, which means they face substantial penalties for driving in the state without a valid license. However, this statute does not apply, if they obtained their driver’s license in another state, such as California, and have proof of car insurance.
Because you can’t drive a motor vehicle without Louisiana car insurance any more than you can operate one without a driver’s license, you always want to be sure you’ve got the best rates. By getting a free car insurance quote online, you can compare rates for your car or motorcycle – and, even on Louisiana SR-22 insurance and start saving!