Virginia Unlicensed Driving Charges
To be found guilty of unlicensed driving in Virginia, a driver must be driving a motor vehicle on a highway in Virginia without a valid driver’s license. This charge is taken extremely seriously and comes with serious penalties and an increased loss of driving privileges. To learn more or discuss your case, call and schedule a free consultation with a Virginia traffic lawyer today.
Types of Unlicensed Driving Charges
Driving on a suspended license is the most common license offense in Virginia. It’s also the most common criminal offense in Virginia. To be guilty of this, you have to drive a motor vehicle on a highway in Virginia and have received notice that your license was revoked or suspended.
Drivers can be charged with driving on a suspended license even if they never received a driver’s license. If the court or the DMV suspended or revoked your license, it doesn’t matter whether you had one to begin with, it still counts the same. It is different than cases where the driver has a valid license but the license is not physically in the driver’s possession. Not physically having the license is a minor offense.
What Level of Offense is Unlicensed Driving?
Driving on a suspended license is a class 1 misdemeanor offense in Virginia. Penalties can include jail time, another suspension of the driver’s license, and a fine. Driving on a suspended license also carries six DMV demerit points and stays on the DMV record for eleven years.
What To Expect From Unlicensed Driving Charges
You must go to court in person to face the charges in front of a judge because it’s a criminal matter, not just a simple traffic infraction. The case will typically be handled by the officer who issued the ticket for the charge who will work with a prosecutor. Typically, the only defense that a judge will accept for dismissal is proof that the defendant either didn’t know his license was suspended or proof that the defendant only drove in order to save life or limb.
Aggravating and Mitigating Factors
The vehicle used in the violation will be impounded for thirty days by the arresting law enforcement officer. If the defendant’s license was suspended for a DUI, this results in an enhancement where an additional ninety-day vehicle impoundment may be ordered by the court and an additional 12-month loss of license.
Sometimes the reason someone was driving or someone’s otherwise clean driving record can be a mitigating factor.
Building a Defense For Unlicensed Driving Charges
In these types of cases, assuming the police can prove that the defendant was indeed operating the motor vehicle, the most important issue is whether the defendant had actual notice of the suspension. There are a number of ways the police can prove notice, so we need to examine each of these ways to determine what kind of evidence they may have.
Similarly, highways are defined as any public road surface including toll roads and some types of parking lot which are traveled by the public. Highways can also include roads inside private residential neighborhoods. This means that the driver has to have been driving on a highway in order to be found guilty which sometimes can lead to another avenue of possible defenses for these types of cases.
Importance of Contacting An Attorney
It’s important to contact a Virginia traffic lawyer because this is a serious criminal charge and not just a simple traffic infraction. A criminal conviction is forever and can have long-term consequences, oftentimes the criminal conviction can affect someone’s ability to obtain work or housing and can also be detrimental to security clearances or someone’s current occupation. It’s important to get an attorney so that you can give yourself the best possible chance to fight or reduce these charges to protect your future opportunities.