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Driving Without a License - CA Driving on a Suspended License

What’s the difference between driving without a license and driving on a suspended license?  


The main difference is that a charge of Vehicle Code 14601 (driving on a suspended license in CA) means the driver once had a license but it was revoked or suspended for one or more of various reasons.  Needless to say, driving on a suspended license in CA is illegal. 


Driving Without a License: 

It’s unlawful to drive in California without a valid driver's license. The driver's license does not have to be from California. It can be from any jurisdiction as long as it was issued by the state or country where the driver lives, and it was valid for the type of vehicle the driver was driving when he/she was cited.  There are some exceptions—please contact our office for more details.

A person can be charged with Driving Without a License, VC 12500(a), when he/she has failed to renew, never obtained a license, or fails to obtain a new license within 10 days of becoming a California Resident 


Consequences of driving without a license:

Driving without a license is “wobbler.”  This means it can be charged as either a misdemeanor or felony.  It’s usually charged as an infraction or misdemeanor, unless there are aggravated circumstances such as multiple citations for the same charge.  

A first offense is usually an infraction. Subsequent offenses are under VC 12500 are more likely to be charged as a misdemeanor.

If charged as a misdemeanor, VC 12500(a) can be punished by up to 6 months in county jail and/or a fine of up to $1000.  


Legal defenses to driving without a license:

There are several defenses to driving without a license in California such as 1) having a valid license while being 18 years of age or older in from a jurisdiction of the driver’s residence, the driver had a legal exception to needing a license (ie., driving a military vehicle while on duty), and a couple of other defenses.  Please call our office to see whether you qualify for one of the defenses. 


Wais Azami in Santa Ana is a criminal defense attorney in Orange County who routinely handles cases such as driving without a license or driving on a suspended license in California.  As an Orange county criminal defense lawyer, our office is centrally-located in Santa Ana to serve all of SoCal residents with defense of charges against driving without a license or driving on a suspended license.  


(714) 321-9999  Call or Text 24/7.  We help defend your rights against misdemeanor or felony charges.  We can recall your warrant.  Wais Azami is an Orange County criminal defense attorney with offices in Santa Ana and Seal Beach to provide legal service to all of Orange County and surround areas as a criminal lawyer in Sant Ana.  

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