The state of Virginia is very strict when it comes to driving laws. Virginia laws state very clearly that any person operating a vehicle must have a license in their possession at the time. An individual who moves to Virginia must eventually file for a Virginia driver’s license and may be issued a citation by a police officer if they fail to do so.
Driving on Virginia roads without a license is a criminal offense. An individual that is charged with driving without a license the first time, is charged with a Class 2 misdemeanor and can be sentenced to prison for up to six months and fine of up to $1000. For second or more charges of driving without a license, the charge is considered a class 1 misdemeanor and the individual may be sentenced to up to 12 months in prison and fine of up to $2,500. When an individual is charged with driving without possession of a license, a judge may decide to suspend the individual’s driving rights for up to 90 days.
If an individual is capable of obtaining a valid Virginia driver’s license before their court date, they are advised to present the license to the judge in court. If the charge is driving without a license in possession first offense, the judge will most likely dismiss the case.
There are a few exceptional situations where an individual may not be required to posses a Virginia driver’s license. These include:
- An individual driving farming equipment and vehicles.
- New Residents in the state of Virginia
- Military personnel driving military vehicles
- Licensed individuals visiting from another state
An individual may decide to fight the driving without a license in possession charge made against them. Hiring an attorney will be beneficial to the defendant at this point to help reduce or dismiss the charges made against them.
Examples of defense for driving without a license in possession include:
- The driver was not a resident of the state of Virginia at the time the officer pulled them over. An individual who moves to the state of Virginia is not immediately considered a resident. There is a 60 day period before a person is considered a resident of the state. This period is called the amnesty period. A defendant may argue that the arrest was made during the amnesty period and so before they were considered residents of the state of Virginia.
- The law in Virginia states that the driver must be driving on a highway to be charged with this offense. A highway is considered as any public roads where vehicles are permitted to travel. The defendant may argue that they were not on public roads when they were driving. Parking lots, apartment complex roads and townhouse communities are not considered highways.
- The defendant may also argue that there claim falls under exceptional situations. If the individual is military personnel or is a licensed visitor from a different state, the charge will be dismissed.