Getting a ticket for a driver’s license issue can range from a simple matter to correct all the way up to getting charged with a misdemeanor (criminal violation), high fines, and jail time. Operating a motor-vehicle is not a basic right, but a privilege that must be earned and maintained with safe driving. There are three general scenarios that can lead to getting a ticket related to a driver’s license. You can get a ticket for:
- Not having a valid license, but you DO have a valid license VC 12815(a); 12951(a);
- Not having a valid license, and you do NOT have a valid license VC 12500(a)
- Driving on a suspended license VC 14601
Not having a valid license, but you DO have a valid license
This is generally a simple issue to clear up. You got pulled over and did not have your license on you at the time, but you DO have a license. This is considered a “correctable violation” or a “fix-it-ticket” and you can get it dismissed by taking your current license to the DMV or the court clerk. You will need to pay a small fee, usually $25 to the court when you present this to the court clerk at the window. Most courts will also allow you to mail a copy of the citation, your driver’s license, and check to the court, as long as you have the citation signed off first by the DMV.
Not having a valid license, and you do NOT have a valid license
California Penal Codes 12500 states: “A person may not drive a motor vehicle upon a highway, unless the person then holds a valid driver’s license issued under this code, except those persons who are expressly exempted under this code.” There could be a number of reasons why you get this ticket, such as:
- You never obtained a driver’s license
- You failed to renew your driver’s license
- You established residency in California but failed to get a California driver’s license
- You are not eligible to get a driver’s license (e.g. you are not a legal immigrant).
This ticket can be either an infraction or a misdemeanor, depending on what the officer circles on your ticket (an “M” or an “I”) and/or previous record. A misdemeanor is a serious criminal charge and will appear on your criminal record. This charge can also carry very high fines (up to $2,500), jail time, probation, suspension of license, and the impoundment of your vehicle. This ticket requires a mandatory appearance in court by you or an attorney. If you fail to appear, the judge will issue a bench warrant for your arrest. If you have received one of these tickets, we can most likely help you and probably get your misdemeanor reduced to an infraction if not dismissed entirely!
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