Driving Without a License


Driving Without a License – CVC 12500(a)


Driving without a driver’s license is a criminal misdemeanor offense in California. You could go to jail and the conviction will become a part of your permanent criminal record and appear on a background check.   You could also receive substantial fines and/or be placed on probation.  If you or a loved one has been arrested for driving without a driver’s license, you should consult with an experienced Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer who may assist you in getting the offense reduced to an infraction or completely dismissed.


VC Section 12500 – Driving Without a License


California Vehicle Code section 12500(a) makes it a crime to drive without a valid driver’s license that is specific to the type of vehicle you are driving. Visitors to the state of California can drive with a valid license from their home state. However, once a driver becomes a California resident, he or she must obtain a valid California driver’s license within 10 days of establishing residency. You can be arrested for driving without a driver’s for various reasons, including failure to renew an expired licensed or being unable to obtain a license due to immigration status.    Those facing this charge due to immigration status face the increased risk of deportation upon incarceration.   This fear often leads to failure to appear which only compounds the problem.   The simple solution is to send an experienced attorney to court on your behalf.   The lawyers at the Law Office of Mark A. Gallagher can resolve your case under VC 12500(a) without the need for you to even appear in court.


If you have been cited for driving without a license, you or your Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer must appear in court on the date that appears on the citation. If you fail to do so, a bench warrant can be issued for your arrest.


Penalties for Driving Without a License


In California, driving without a license is a “wobblette” offense. This means that the state prosecution has an option of charging the offense as a misdemeanor or infraction. Several factors will be taken into consideration in making this decision, including your driving history. As such, it crucial that you have an experienced Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer appear on your behalf to argue that you should only be charged with the lesser offense of infraction, which is not considered a criminal violation and will not go on your criminal record.   This reduction can also save a considerable amount in fines.  In many cases the cost of hiring a lawyer is erased with the money saved by the results obtained.


VC 12500(a) Misdemeanor Driving Without a License: 


  • Up to 6 months in jail
  • Up to a $1,000 fine, plus fees and penalties assessments
  • Total cost to court can be over $3,000
  • Up to 3 years of informal probation
  • Up to 30-day car impoundment


Infraction Driving Without a License Penalty 


  • Up to $250 fine, plus fees
  • No criminal history
  • No immigration issues or other collateral consequences


It may be tempting to simply accept the prosecution’s plea bargain for driving without a license offense. But if you plead guilty to a misdemeanor charge, you are going to have a criminal record, which will have negative consequences on your life for years to come. Prior to taking any further actions, you should consult with a Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer.


Los Angeles Criminal Defense Lawyer Can Help


If you or a family member is facing a violation of VC 12500 for driving without a license, you need to immediately contact a Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer. At the Law Offices of Mark A. Gallagher, we understand how a conviction of this code section can negatively impact all aspects of your life, including your employment and insurance rate. We will take all steps necessary to have this charge either reduced to an infraction or dismissed altogether. To schedule a free consultation with a Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer, please contact the Law Offices of Mark A. Gallagher at (800) 797-8406.