In Florida, driving is considered a privilege and to operate a motor vehicle on a highway in Florida a person must have a valid driver’s license. If a person doesn’t have a valid driver’s license they could be charged with the offense of No Valid Driver’s License, which is outlined in Florida Statute 322.03.
No Valid Driver’s license is a second-degree misdemeanor, which carries a maximum punishment of 60 days in the county jail and up to a $500.00 fine. There are two elements that a prosecutor must prove for the charge of driving without a valid driver’s license:
- That the defendant drove a motor vehicle upon a highway in the state
- That at the time the defendant did not have a valid driver’s license recognized by the department of highway safety and motor vehicles.
No Valid Driver’s license differs from the charge of driving while license is suspended. No valid driver’s license does not require proof of knowledge, meaning the state is not required to show the person knew that their license was not valid, they just simply need to show that the license was in fact not valid at the time the person was operating a motor vehicle.
There are different classifications of driver’s license, and just because you have a valid license does not mean that it is valid to operate any type of vehicle. For instance, a regular class E license does not enable you to operate a commercial motor vehicle—to operate that you need a commercial driver’s license, commonly referred to as a CDL. If you are found operating a commercial motor vehicle with a CDL you can still be charged.
The offense of no valid CDL is a first-degree misdemeanor, meaning the max punishment is up to 365 in the county jail and up to a $1,000.00.
Another example is to operate a motorcycle, a person needs to have a valid motorcycle endorsement, the failure to have a valid endorsement could lead to a criminal charge as well.
As with a DUI, a person can be found guilty of no valid driver’s license for being in actual physical control of the vehicle. The definition of drive includes actually driving the vehicle and also being in actual physical control of the vehicle. Actual physical control means that the defendant is physically in or on the vehicle and has the capabilities to operate the vehicle, regardless of whether of not the vehicle is moving.
Also, a person must be driving on a street or highway in the state of Florida, which means that if you are operating a motor vehicle on a roadway that does not fall within the definition outline the statute or jury instruction you may have a potential defense to the offense of no valid driver’s license.
Another potential defense would be that you are required to have a driver’s license to operate the vehicle that you are operating, people operate specific vehicle are exempt from the driver’s license requirement which are outline in Florida Statue 322.04. Some examples are if a person is operating any road machinery, a farm tractor or a golf cart as defined in 322.01, the biggest key is factor it is not capable to reaching speeds in excess of 20 miles per hour.
Another possible defense is that a person has a valid driver’s license, a person who holds a valid driver’s license from another state or even another country is allowed to operate a motor vehicle in Florida. The best practice is to always have your license with you when operating a motor vehicle, especially if your license is from another state or country.
Call Meldon Law if You Are Charged With Driving Without a Valid License
Though these offenses may not seem serious, a conviction for any of these offenses can lead to a permanent record and cannot be sealed or expunged. If you are charged with a driving offense call the Meldon Law Firm, when have the knowledge and experience to help defend you and protect your rights. Call us at 352-373-8000 to set up a free consultation.