Driving without a license: penalties and consequences

Driving without a driver's license is illegal in The United Kingdom and many other nations trivial offense. It is a criminal offense which, in extreme cases, can even lead to imprisonment. Our article will acquaint you with the financial penalties and other consequences that you can expect if you drive your automobile without a license.

Why prove a driver's license at all?

Driving a vehicle comes with a great deal of responsibility. Every driver should be able to prove that they are familiar with the rules of the road and can comply with them. In terms of general traffic safety, it is good that not just any person can simply get into a vehicle and drive it.

For this reason, a driver's license must be obtained, which in The United Kingdom and many other nations is even linked to the vehicle type. Anyone who has obtained permission to drive a car may therefore not also drive a motorcycle or truck. The corresponding proof of which vehicles are able to handle road traffic safely is provided by the driver's license obtained with the corresponding vehicle classes entered.

If a driver's license was never obtained and a vehicle is nevertheless driven, this will have serious consequences . It plays a role here whether the driver's license has never been issued or whether it was temporarily withdrawn due to a driving ban.

Driving license not present – what penalty is threatened?

When it comes to the question of punishment, two situations must be distinguished: the absence of a driver's license and the absence of a driver's license. As life goes, as a driver you can get stopped by the police while your driver's license document is at home. Of course, in this situation you have the license to drive your car – you just can't prove this with your driver's license at the moment.

If the driver's license alone is missing as proof, this is an administrative offence. This is currently (as of 2022) punished with a fine of 10.00 euros. A copy of the driver's license is not enough, after all, anyone could quickly create such a document. Overall, you get off lightly in this situation.

Driving without a driver's license – what are the penalties?

If you do not have a driver's license, you will have to reckon with much more drastic penalties. A distinction must be made here between a temporary withdrawal of the driver's license and the basic driving of a car without a driver's license.

1. Driving in a driving ban

The temporary withdrawal of the driver's license takes place if you have recently violated the Road Traffic Act significantly. You may have significantly exceeded the speed limit and, in addition to a fine and entry in the Flensburg traffic register, you will have to do without your driver's license for a month.

If you get into your vehicle during this phase and are caught, there are more severe penalties. Driving without a permit is no longer classified under the Road Traffic Act, but as a criminal offense under the Road Traffic Act. In this case, a prison sentence and/or a hefty fine is to be expected.

What is often overlooked: A driving ban does not explicitly apply to the type of vehicle with which you caused the serious traffic violation. You are therefore not allowed to simply get on your moped if you have handed in your driver's license for one or more months after a crime with your car.

2. Driving without a license

If you have never had a driver's license for the vehicle being driven, the penalties are even more severe. If you have a driver's license for other driver's license classes, you should expect a general withdrawal of your driver's license for all classes for at least six months after your driver's license has been confiscated. In serious cases, the driver's license can be withdrawn entirely if there are doubts about a general suitability for participation in motorized road traffic. At the discretion of a traffic court, this can lead to a prison sentence of up to one year and a large fine. Depending on the court ruling, the fine is between five and 360 daily rates.

Individual assessment of the facts is decisive

You will be informed in writing several weeks after the check what exactly you are accused of and what penalties you have to reckon with. Ideally, it is only a fine for an administrative offence. You can find out when this is likely to be delivered in our article “How long does it take for the fine to arrive?”. However, assume that if you drive without a license you will be notified of a hearing at a traffic court.

The court alone decides on the exact penalty. Many individual factors are taken into account that play into driving without a license. These are for example:

– Were you under the influence of alcohol or drugs while driving without a license?
– Has there been an accident or damage while driving?
– Did you hit and run after the accident?
– Were there any other violations while driving without a driver's license?

The less serious case is that you are stopped by the police without a driver's license. There will be far-reaching consequences for your temporary or general driver's license, but imprisonment or fines are likely to be mild. The situation is different if you have demonstrably presented a hazard to road traffic, including an accident.

May I drive anything at all without a driver's license?

Even if your driver's license has been revoked or you do not (or no longer) have a driver's license, it is still possible to drive on public roads . However, this only applies to vehicles for which you cannot obtain a separate driving licence. The most important vehicle types are:

– Motorized bicycles
– Ambulance wheelchairs
– Mobility Aids
– Tractors and trucks up to 6 km/h

None of these vehicles can be compared to a car, motorcycle or truck in terms of performance and speed. However, you do not have to go without basic mobility.

Consequences for the vehicle and insurance cover

Two important notes at the end: Please note that that the authorities may be able to confiscate the vehicle involved. This is ordered by the traffic court and is common for repeat offenders. This is the only way to prevent the perpetrator from continuing to use the vehicle.

And there are also far-reaching consequences for car insurance. It is true that this will provide insurance benefits to injured third parties in the event of an accident. After this, however, the driver without a license will be taken into recourse by default. Depending on the extent of the damage, the financial consequences will accompany you for many years.

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