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24 N. High Street, Suite 202, Columbus, Ohio 43215
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Columbus Attorney Defends Charges of Operation Without a Valid License

Staunch advocate protects your rights and focuses on positive results

Every state regulates driving privileges by issuing licenses to drivers and suspending or revoking those licenses when a driver violates the law. This is a matter of public safety, which is a legitimate government purpose. So, if you are caught driving without a valid license, you can expect costly consequences and little sympathy from a judge. That said, an experienced traffic violation attorney can help you achieve a more favorable outcome in most cases. Depending on your circumstances, you may have a legitimate defense, or there could be grounds for lenient sentencing. At Luckett Law Office in Columbus, we have more than 30 years of experience in traffic offense litigation. We are prepared to help you pursue the best outcome possible under the facts of your case.

What does it mean to drive without a valid license in Ohio?

The Ohio Revised Code §4510.12 lays out the law on this issue. Anyone who drives a motor vehicle on public roads must have a valid Ohio driver license, except:

  • Out-of-state drivers with valid licenses from their home states
  • Drivers with a valid learner’s permit
  • A driver temporarily operating a vehicle, such as a steamroller or tractor, on a public road under one of the limited exemptions

If you have never had a valid license and you are caught driving on one occasion, you will be charged with an unclassified misdemeanor. You cannot be sentenced to any jail time, but you can be fined up to $1,000 and ordered to serve up to 500 hours of community service.

If your license is not valid because it has expired, you can be charged with a minor misdemeanor. But if you have allowed your license to lapse twice in the last three years, the charge is a misdemeanor in the first degree. That charge does allow the court to impose up to six months of jail time as well as a substantial fine and community service.

If you are driving with a suspended or permanently revoked license, the penalties are potentially much worse, especially if you lost your license due to a poor driving record or a DWI/OVI.

The consequences of failing to show proof of a valid license in Ohio

Now, suppose you were in a hurry to leave the house and left your wallet with your license at home. You get pulled over for one reason or another, and you cannot produce your wallet. You can be cited for driving without a valid license. But in this case, it is a correctable offense, and the officer generally issues what is called a “fix-it” ticket. That means you can go to court with your driver license, show it to the judge, and prove you were a validly licensed driver at the time of the citation. The charge will be dropped, but you will have to pay an administrative fee.

This is different from the charge of failure to display a license, covered in O.R.C. §4507.35. This charge can result when a police officer requests to see your license and you willfully refuse. This often happens when a driver feels he or she has been unlawfully targeted and pulled over. The driver might be correct on the merits of the stop but can still be charged with an unclassified misdemeanor, which does not allow jail time but could result in a fine of as much as $1,000 and up to 500 hours of community service. If you’ve done this before, the charge could be a first-degree misdemeanor, which can get you up to six months in jail. If you’ve been charged with failure to display a license, you would be wise to let an experienced traffic violation lawyer handle your defense in court.

Contact a knowledgeable Columbus attorney for your license offense case

Luckett Law Office defends motorists from charges of operating a vehicle without a valid license, including charges of driving under a suspension. Our office is conveniently located at 24 North High Street, just one block away from the Ohio Statehouse in the heart of downtown Columbus. To schedule a free consultation, call 614-721-2949 or contact our office online.