Virginia License Offenses
There are multiple types of license-related offenses in Virginia. They vary in many respects, and it can be quite confusing to sort through them all. If you’re facing a violation for a license offense, this article will shed some light on your situation.
No license in possession
The lowest level of license-related offense is not carrying your license while driving and showing it to the officer upon request. This violation is under 46.2-104.
If you are charged with not having a license in your possession, you may be able to have the charge dismissed by simply presenting your valid license at court. If you are convicted, it’s just a traffic infraction punishable by a fine of $10. Pretty simple.
Driving without a license
The next level up is a misdemeanor: driving without a valid license. There are several statutes at play here, but the main prohibition is 46.2-300. Essentially, no one can drive in Virginia without a valid license.
If you are convicted under this statute, the first violation is only a class 2 misdemeanor. Jail is technically possible, but most courts do not impose jail on a first offense. The punishment is typically a fine around $100. License suspension up to 90 days is also possible, but that usually doesn’t happen (at least in the courts around Fredericksburg).
A second offense of driving without a license becomes a class 1 misdemeanor. Jail doesn’t always happen the second time around, but it is much more likely.
Driving on a suspended / revoked license
If you are driving after your license has been suspended or revoked by DMV or a court, you could be charged under 46.2-301. This statute is always a class 1 misdemeanor.
Importantly, any conviction under 301 requires license suspension. If you get your license reinstated before trial, many courts will only impose a few day suspension. But if your license is still suspended at the time of trial, it may be suspended for an additional 90 days.
The other key part of a driving on suspended offense is the real possibility of jail time. Many courts won’t impose active jail time on a first offense, but you could be looking at suspended jail time. A second offense typically does get a little bit of active jail time. And the kicker is that a third or subsequent offense for driving on a suspended license has a mandatory minimum jail time of 10 days.
Driving after forfeiture of license
One of the worst types of license offenses is under 18.2-272. This statute prohibits driving while you have been suspended or revoked due to DUI / DWI.
It’s typically punished more harshly than all the other offenses, because in this scenario a judge has specifically instructed you not to drive.
Courts differ on the amount of jail time received for a 272 violation, but even a first offense typically gets some jail. Around the Fredericksburg / Stafford / Spotsylvania area, you might be looking at 20-30 days on a first 272 violation.
Also, it’s important to note that a conviction under 272 revokes your license completely for a year. If you get two or more convictions, your license is revoked for three years. This can be a serious mess.
The various levels of license offenses come into play in many cases during plea negotiations. You might be charged with a serious violation of 272, but there might be an issue with the case where the prosecutor is willing to amend the charge to 301. The license implications alone can make it worth your while to plead to a reduced charge in that scenario.
The same sort of things happen when folks are charged with regular driving on a suspended license. Sometimes if the license wasn’t suspended for long, the defendant didn’t have solid notice of the suspension, and/or they got it reinstated quickly, we can try to get the charge reduced to not having a valid license or not having a license in possession.
The bottom line is to call attorney. These cases can be more complicated than they seem, and you might be surprised at the possible punishments.
Photo by ElizabethHudy
Hello. My name is Andre Flusche. I’m your Virginia traffic attorney. I’m here today to talk to you about different license offenses in Virginia. There’s a wide gamut of license offenses in Virginia. People can be confused a lot of times about what you’re actually charged with and what you’re looking at as far as possible punishments.
The lowest level, in my opinion, license offense in Virginia is for simply not having your license in your possession. That’s just a $10 traffic ticket. That’s for people who are validly license but to forget to carry their license with them while they’re driving. Because the law says you’re supposed to carry your license any time you’re operating a motor vehicle. That’s a pretty minor ticket. A lot of times, if you can bring your license to court or present it at a clerk’s office before court even, usually that case should be dismissed.
However, the license offenses go up in seriousness from there. The next level of offense is for not having a valid Virginia license. This is the type of offense you would get if you license expired or if you simply never got a license. It’s as if you just don’t have the permission or the privilege to be driving. Remember that in Virginia our law says that driving is in fact a privilege that can be granted and taken away. If you’re charged with no license, that’s an offense that could carry jail depending upon the judge and the court that you’re in and how many prior offenses you may have had. It’s beginning to become a serious offense at that level.
The next level of offenses is basically for driving on a suspended license. Now one thing you need to know is that even if you never had a license, you could still be charged with driving on suspended license. Because all that means is that your privilege to get a license has been suspended, or your actual license if you had one. It’s kind of a next level of offense. You have no license in possession. You have no valid license. Now you have driving on suspended license is a more serious offense. Because on this offense, a judge or the DMV has told you do not drive and you went out and drove. That is what you’re accused of doing. In those offenses you may very well be looking at jail time depending upon your record and everything.
The final, most serious offense in my opinion in Virginia for license related offenses would be, at the very top of the scale, driving on a DUI revoked license. That’s the most common one that we see anyway as a very serious offense. Because if your license is suspended due to a DUI, typically you’re given a restricted license for work or school depending on your scenario. However, if you drive outside that restricted or you don’t comply with all the requirements of getting the restricted license, and you drive anyway, the judges treat it very seriously. A lot of judges will give you actual jail time for that offense.
The summary here is that if you’re charged with any license offense in Virginia you definitely should contact me so I can help advise you about what exactly you’re charged with, what the possible punishments are, and if you really even do need an attorney. If you get a ticket for no license in your possession, you may not even need an attorney. You probably can just go and present your license yourself on the court date. However, if you’re charged with anything beyond that, such as no license, driving on a suspended, or driving on a DUI suspended license, that’s a case where you definitely should at least contact me and we can analyze together whether or not you need to have a lawyer with you at court.