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Driving Without A License

There are several license-related offenses under Georgia law. These include No License on Person, Driving Without a License, and Driving on a Suspended License. Driving Without a License is one of the more serious among these, especially for repeat offenders. If you have been charged with Driving Without a License, you are facing the real possibility of spending time in jail. Before going to court, you should speak with an experienced Georgia Criminal Defense Attorney to discuss your options and possible outcomes.

O.C.G.A. § 40-5-20 states, in general, that a person must have a valid (and current) driver’s license in order to drive a vehicle upon any highway in the state. The driver must have the appropriate licensure for the class or type of vehicle being driven. The law further states that any person residing in Georgia for 30 days must obtain a Georgia driver’s license.

A conviction under this statute may be avoided IF the driver’s license was expired less than 31 days and the driver produces in court a driver’s license which would have been valid on the date of the offense.

There are some exemptions from this law for certain individuals, which are outlined in O.C.G.A. § 40-5-21. These are:

  • A U.S. Government employee who is operating a vehicle that is owned or leased by the U.S. government and is being operated on official business;
  • A non-resident who has in his or her possession a valid driver’s license from another country, provided that he or she would satisfy all requirements to receive a Georgia driver’s license and he or she has in his/her possession a valid international driving permit;
  • A non-resident on active duty with the U.S. military who has a valid license from his/her home state;
  • A spouse or dependent child of U.S. military personnel who has a valid license from his/her home state;
  • A person on active duty in the U.S. military who has in his/her possession a valid license issued in a foreign country by the armed force of the United States, valid up to 45 days of the person’s return to the U.S.;
  • Any inmate or resident patient of an institution who drives a vehicle on the grounds of the institution while accompanied by and under the supervision of a qualified driving instructor or other person authorized to supervise the inmate or resident patient;
  • Any inmate of an institution who is operating a vehicle owned by or leased to the state, county, or municipality and being operated with the written approval of the warden and in a manner approved by the warden. The inmate must have passed the vision, written, and driving tests required for licensure;
  • A member of the U.S. military reserves who is operating a vehicle owned by the government in accordance with his/her duties;
  • A person taking the driving examination in order to receive a license, who is accompanied by a driver license examiner;
  • Any migrant farm worker who works in the state fewer than 90 days in a year and who possesses a license from another state;
  • Any resident who is 15 years of age or older while taking a training program, who is under the supervision of a driving instructor;
  • Any person operating a motorized cart in an area maintained for use by motorized carts;
  • A non-resident who is enrolled in and attending school in the state IF: (a) He or she is 16 years old and (b) has in his/her possession a valid license from another state.

Penalties for Driving Without A License in Georgia

OffenseClassificationPenalty for Conviction
Driving on a Suspended License OR Driving Without a License – 1st Conviction in 5 YearsMisdemeanorAt least 2 days but not more than 12 months in jail;

Fine of at least $500 but not more than $1,000; and

Fingerprinting Required
Driving on a Suspended License OR Driving Without a License – 2nd or 3rd Conviction in 5 YearsHigh and Aggravated Misdemeanor At least 10 days but not more than 12 months in jail; and

Fine of at least $1,000 but not more than $2,500
Driving on a Suspended License OR Driving Without a License – 4th or subsequent conviction in 5 YearsFelonyAt least 1 year but not more than 5 years in jail; and

Fine of at least $2,500 but not more than $5,000.

Under O.C.G.A. § 40-5-121, which lays out the penalties for driving without a license (as well as for Driving on a Suspended License), only one plea of nolo contendre (no contest) will be accepted within a 5 year period of time.  Further,  pleas of nolo contendre will be considered convictions for sentencing purposes.

If you have been charged with Driving Without a Valid License, you need an attorney with expertise in this field. Contact me today.



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