Being In a Car Accident Without a Driver's License
Car accidents are scary, and not knowing what to do when one occurs can make the situation even worse. You could find yourself in a case where you need to speak to the other driver or attend to the people in the car with you. It's even more terrifying if you don't have a driver's license.
A driver's license is required to drive a vehicle in the United States. Despite this, over 10 million people drive without a license and may be hesitant to report a car accident to a lawyer or the police. While it is not a legal requirement, many places also require you to have insurance to drive a vehicle. Unfortunately, not everyone has a driver's license, so these individuals are left without a way to get around.
What to do if you get into a car accident without a license? How to claim compensation if it's a DUI offense? How do you avoid a DUI in the first place? These questions are widespread but not easy to answer. We'll answer all those questions and show you the most common scenarios that can happen to you.
Common Reasons for Driving Without A License
If you're involved in an accident, the first thing law enforcement will check is each driver's license, registration, and insurance policy. Several reasons you may choose to operate a vehicle without the required documentation may affect your court case.
Some of the most common reasons include:
- Failure to renew a driver's license owing to age-related ailments
- Revocation of driving privileges due to criminal offenses or medical conditions
- Having a DUI/DWI conviction
- Failing to carry the necessary car insurance
- Unfinished license process due to new citizenship
- Excessive number of traffic violations
- Underage driving
California Laws For Driving Without A License
Under California Vehicle Code 12500(a), driving without a valid license is illegal.
It must not be a California license. The law requires a valid license from the state you reside in and for the type of vehicle you drive.
If caught driving without a license, you may face misdemeanor charges, and the penalty for these charges is up to six months in jail and a $1000 court fine.
What You Need to Know If This Happens to You
Law enforcement will likely issue you a ticket if you are in a car accident and operating a vehicle without a license.
These situations are every day in the US, and many assume that the unlicensed driver is automatically at fault. But this isn't always the case. For instance, the unlicensed driver can get away with just a ticket from law enforcement if:
- The at-fault driver is licensed but was careless or driving under the influence of illicit substance(s)
- If the unlicensed driver is driving a rented or borrowed vehicle
Driving without a license won't influence how an automobile accident case is handled in court. Whether or not a motorist has a driving license has no bearing on who is at fault in a car accident, especially in California.
In California, a fault is established by considering the degree of negligence displayed by each motorist. Thus, driving without a driver’s license has no bearing on the fault of the car accident. Therefore, California is considered a “fault” state.
Will There Be Additional Sanctions?
You must comply with state law and carry liability insurance when operating a vehicle. Aside from driving without a driver’s license, drivers risk further legal repercussions and may be held responsible for injuries and property damage if they fail to keep their liability insurance policy up to date.
The particulars of your case will determine the severity of legal punishment. If you never obtained a license, you can be charged with a lower crime than if you did at one point. On the other hand, if your license was suspended for driving while intoxicated you may be charged with a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the particular circumstances of your case and prior record.
After your accident, you might experience financial and legal reciprocation. Serious vehicle accidents might leave you permanently injured. Your injury can make it impossible for you to work, and you might need expensive medical procedures or continuing care. Further, you may be placed at fault for the accident, which would place you financially responsible for other party’s injuries as well as other damages associated with the accident.
Will My Settlement Be Lower If I Don't Have a License?
If you were driving without a license, it's easy for your insurance company or the at-fault driver attempt to place the blame on you, especially if you are not familiar with the applicable laws and rules.
To help you with your case, you will need to hire a skilled auto accident attorney. Contact us at Bojat Law Group right away to learn more about what will happen if you get into an automobile accident without a license. We will discuss various issues about your case and your financial and emotional recovery prospects.