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How Can I Be an Unlicensed Driver if I Have an Out-of-State License?

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CA Vehicle Code (CVC) 12500, Drivers’ Licenses states “A person may not drive a motor vehicle upon a highway, unless the person then holds a valid driver’s license…” People with a valid driver’s license from another state or country are not considered unlicensed drivers. However, when a visiting person, who is over 18 years of age, with an out-of-state driver’s license or a license from another country becomes a resident of the state of CA, they must acquire a CA driver’s license within ten days to drive legally in CA.

Establishing CA Residency

Some may wonder how a law enforcement officer (LEO), or the court would know how long a person has been a resident or how residency is established. Establishing residency requires the payment of in-state tuition at colleges or universities, payment of property taxes or requesting an exemption, registering to vote, or receiving or requesting assistance or benefits from the state extended to its residents.

Out-of-state military on active duty and their spouses who acquire a license while stationed in CA are eligible to keep their CA license when ordered to move to another state or country until 30 days after discharge, but should keep a copy of their honorable discharge orders with them during the 30-day grace period. Additionally, those drivers should apply for an extension using DL 236, Extension of License for Person in Armed Forces according to CVC 12817, Drivers’ Licenses. Out-of-state military and their spouses who intend to stay in CA after discharge must acquire a CA driver’s license within ten days of establishing residency.

Who Is Considered an Unlicensed Driver?

Any out-of-state/country driver whose driver’s license is no longer valid in their home state, or a CA resident whose license is suspended, revoked, or canceled is an unlicensed driver. Licensed drivers from out-of-state/country, who have not reached the age of 18, are unlicensed according to CVC 12500.

Drivers stopped by an LEO, who cannot produce a valid driver’s license will get ticketed for violation of CVC 12500, which is a misdemeanor crime. However, if the driver has a valid license, the prosecution might decide to reduce the ticket to an infraction. This may depend on the driver’s record and legal representation. It’s much easier to get the charge reduced with an attorney, particularly if you get a license or if it is your first offense.

Those unlicensed drivers convicted under CVC 12500 face up to six months in the county jail, fines up to $1000, and possibly having your car impounded for up to 30 days. Whether you are an unlicensed driver or merely forgot your license at home, you should consult with a traffic ticket attorney to develop a strategy.

Kern County Traffic Ticket Defenders

Call Bigger & Harman, (661) 349-9300, to discuss your specific situation when you get a ticket as an unlicensed driver. Whether you have a license or not, a quick call to Bigger & Harman could make a difference in the charge, misdemeanor or infraction, and the outcome. Don’t place your criminal record in the hands of anyone but a practicing traffic ticket attorney. Bigger & Harman have successfully defended thousands of traffic tickets in the Central Valley area and are just a phone call away.

You could also send them an email, attorney@biggerharmanlaw.com, or a personal message to their Facebook page. Be sure to include a photocopy of your ticket, your license, if you have one, and a brief description of the events leading up to your stop. They will send a reply when they return to the office with a summary of your options.

Visit their Avvo, Nolo,or Yelp websites to read client remarks and other endorsements, and client comments about their legal service.

Se habla Español 661.349.9755.

References:

The 2018 CA Driver Handbook .pdf

CVC 12500 & 12817, Drivers’ Licenses

The 2018 California Superior Court Bail Schedule for Infractions and Misdemeanors.pdf