While there are no verifiable stats, there are many more unlicensed drivers on the road than you think. The reasons people choose to drive without driver's license might vary, however one thing remains true. Unlicensed drivers make the roads a safety hazard for themselves and everyone around them.
If you're considering driving without a license in Illinois, getting caught brings with it a serious penalty.
In an effort to keep our roads safe, learn why driving without a valid driver's license in Illinois is a bad idea.
Driving without Driver's License is Dangerous for Everyone
Maybe you got a DUI, perhaps you've received a few too many speeding tickets, or maybe you just never bothered to get your driver's license in the first place.
To you, those might be minor inconvenient details or transgressions. To others, you're a menace on the road due to your negligent choices. Nearly one in five car accidents involve an unlicensed driver.
The fact is, driving without a license in Illinois means you're a safety risk. Unlicensed drivers are more likely to leave the scene of an accident. You also don't have insurance if something goes wrong.
That means you either get sued, or you leave your victim responsible for cleaning up your expensive, and possibly life-altering, mess.
Various Ways You Can Get in Trouble When Driving Without a License
Is driving without a license a misdemeanor? That depends on a few factors.
Having a License but not Having it on You
If you have a license, but it's not on you when you get pulled over, it's considered an infraction. Legally speaking, whenever you drive your car, you should always have your driver’s license with you.
If you forget yours, you will have to prove you possessed your license at the time of the incident. You may also have to pay a fine.
Expired or No License
Whether your license has expired, or you simply never bothered to get one in the first place, it doesn't matter. You're still not allowed to drive legally unless you have a valid license, permit or restricted permit.
If you're found driving without one, you'll be charged with a petty offense or worse.
Caught Driving on a Cancelled, Revoked or Suspended Driver’s License
, Getting caught driving on a suspended or revoked license is a Class A misdemeanor in Illinois and could be a felony in certain circumstances.
Maximum penalties for a Class A misdemeanor can include a fine of up to $2,500 and spending up to a year in jail. You may also be charged with a felony if you were arrested for a DUI, and you already have a suspended or revoked IL license due to a previous DUI.
Whether you receive a Class A or B misdemeanor or petty offense, you should hire a lawyer to help you sort through your case.
Driving Without a License and the Illinois Secretary of State
Some people feel that if they drive in another state without a license, or commit a driving offense in another state, it won't catch up to them. This simply isn't true.
Even if you have a driver’s license issued from another state, you could have your driving privileges suspended while in Illinois. If you don't have a license at all, your ability to get one can be revoked for a specific time period.
The Secretary of State in Illinois is in charge of issuing driver’s licenses, and too many altercations with them will make your life extremely difficult.
What Else Might Happen If You're Caught Driving Without a License
If you're a teen caught while driving without a valid license, you won't be able to get a permit or license until you become a legal adult.
If you can't meet the mandatory insurance requirements, your vehicle will be impounded immediately. You won't be able to get your car back until an authorized, licensed driver with proof of insurance comes to claim your vehicle.
If you are caught driving while on a suspended IL driver’s license, the Secretary of State will actually increase the length of your original suspension. Most of the time, it will double each time you're found guilty of driving while on a suspended license.
If you fail to show up in court, things will become much worse for you. Most of the time, a warrant is issued for your arrest.
How to Get Around in Illinois Without a Driver’s License
If you live in a city, you may not need a driver’s license at all. Chicago is a walkable city with great public transportation.
If you do need to drive to get to work and your driver’s license has been suspended or revoked, all is not lost. You can petition the Secretary of State for driving relief.
If you're undocumented, you can still drive legally. Simply obtain your temporary driver's license for undocumented individuals.
You can also check into ride sharing for options on getting around without a driver’s license. Also, don't forget about Uber and Lyft.
We Can Help
We all make mistakes in life. If you're caught driving without a driver's license, you've clearly made a mistake you don't want to repeat.
We can help. Whether you're an Illinois native, or out of state, our team can help you navigate the issue.
We're happy to offer you a free 30-minute consultation to help determine your next steps. Click here to schedule yours today.