The Consequences of Driving Without a License

Thomas Jeter • October 16, 2014

The Consequences of Driving Without a License

Most people know that when law enforcement pull over a vehicle, there are two things the officer will request: your driver’s license and proof of registration for the vehicle. When South Carolina drivers come up empty-handed, the consequences can be serious.

The Many Ways to Break the License Requirement

You changed purses, left your wallet at home or forgot your license was sitting on the counter: At one time or another, many drivers may not have their licenses on them while driving. Memory issues aside, there are several other ways law enforcement could issue you a citation concerning your license:

  • If you have not applied for a state-issued license within the designated time frame
  • If you have an expired license
  • If your license has been either suspended or revoked
  • If you cannot show proof of your license

Even if you simply forgot your license, you may still receive a ticket. Each of these situations will carry varying levels of penalties.

South Carolina Crime and Punishment

All 50 states consider it a crime to operate a vehicle without a license. In South Carolina, anyone who violates this law is considered guilty of a misdemeanor. Failure to show identification, either because you forgot or have not applied for your license, can carry a fine of up to $100 and 30 days in jail for the first offense and upward of six months in jail for three or more offenses.

According to the South Carolina Bar, if you simply forgot your ID at home or otherwise didn’t have it on you, you have a week to provide proof of the license to the court. If you can do so, the ticket may be dismissed.

However, if your license has been suspended or revoked, the penalties for a first offense could be a $300 fine and up to 30 days in prison. People who have three or more such offenses could even be placed under house arrest for a period of 90 days to six months, as outlined by the South Carolina statute.

Know Your Options

If your license has been temporarily revoked, it is possible to apply for a restricted license, which would allow you to drive to work or school. In order to obtain such a license, the state requires that you must show proof of employment or enrollment and you must live at least one mile away from your job or school. The S.C. Department of Motor Vehicles may also set restrictions on the times and routes you may drive.

Anyone with questions regarding driving without a license should contact our experienced attorneys at Nosal & Jeter LLP  who can outline options for fighting a ticket or reinstating driving privileges.

Source: South Carolina Legislature, “South Carolina Code of Laws,” Current through the end of the 2013 session