In the state of New Jersey, driving is considered a privilege, not a right, which means that you must comply with certain requirements or the privilege could be taken away. One of the requirements to drive in the state is that you possess a valid driver’s license. This license is obtained through an extensive process including a written test and a driving test. Once you pass, you must keep your license on you at all times when driving. If you drive without a license or without your license physically on your person, you could be charged with a crime and face serious penalties.
At the Law Offices of John J. Zarych, our experienced New Jersey driving without a license attorneys have successfully defended many individuals charged with driving without a license. We know how to fight for your charges to be dismissed or downgraded and for you to be treated with respect by the law. For a free consultation, call us today at (609) 616-4956.
Types of Driving Without a License Crimes in New Jersey
The first type of crime involving driving without a license occurs when you actually have a license, but you do not physically have it on you. For example, maybe you are pulled over for speeding and the officer asks to see your license. You reach into your pocket and realize you left your wallet, including your license, at home. The officer will likely run your information and confirm you are telling the truth that you are a licensed driver, and write you a ticket with a court date. However, they would be within their rights to place you under arrest.
The second type of driving without a license offense is when you are driving without a current license, but you did have a valid license in New Jersey or some other state at some point in time. This would apply if you were driving with an expired license, whether or not you knew it was expired. Police may issue a ticket or place you under arrest for this crime.
The third and final type is getting caught driving without a license if you have never previously been issued a license in New Jersey or any other state. If you are pulled over and not only unable to produce a license, but it is discovered that you never had one to begin with, this charge will apply. You are more likely to be placed under arrest for this iteration of the offense.
The Criminal Process for a Driving Without a License Charge in New Jersey
If the officer issues you a ticket with a court date, you simply need to contact a lawyer right away to begin preparations for that date. However, police officers have the authority to place you under arrest for driving without a license, and sometimes they will do so. If so, you will be taken to the local station for the booking process and held in a cell there or at the detention center until you can be taken before a judge for a bail hearing. Although it would be rare for a judge to hold someone until trial on this type of charge, it can still happen, and you should have an experienced bail defense attorney like those at the Law Offices of John J. Zarych represent you at this hearing.
If you had a valid license but did not have it on you when you were pulled over, this charge is a traffic offense. If you did not have a valid license at the time of the stop, the charge is a disorderly persons offense. Both of these types of charges are dealt with in municipal court. For the traffic offense, everything will likely be handled in one proceeding. Your lawyer can attempt to work out a deal where you show your valid license in court and the charge is dropped.
For the disorderly persons offense, you will have an arraignment, where you will be read your charges and asked to enter a plea of guilty or not guilty. Your lawyer will likely advise you to plead not guilty while they try to work out a deal with the prosecutor. Such a deal could involve getting you into a pre-trial intervention program where you complete traffic classes and other assignments in exchange for the charge being dropped. The prosecutor may also allow you to plead to a lesser charge or recommend a lesser sentence to the judge.
If you are not satisfied with the offer, we can talk about the potential of taking your case to trial. Be aware, however, that there is no right to a jury trial in municipal court, and your trial will be before a judge.
Penalties for Driving Without a License in New Jersey
The potential penalties vary depending on which iteration of this charge you face. If you had a license but just did not have it on you, the judge may dismiss the charge if you show a valid license in court. However, they can choose to impose a $150 fine if they wish, as well as charge you for court costs even if the charge is dismissed.
For driving with an expired license, you can face fines up to $500 and up to 2 months in prison. For driving with no license when you never had a license, you will face a minimum fine of $200 with a maximum of $500, up to 2 months in prison, and a mandatory 180-day suspension of your right to apply for a license.
Call Our Skilled Driving Without a License Defense Lawyers Today
The consequences of being caught driving without a license can vary greatly depending on the circumstances of the situation. At the Law Offices of John J. Zarych, our skilled Atlantic City criminal defense attorneys know how to craft the best argument based on the specifics of your case. We will fight to bring your case to the best possible resolution. For a free consultation, call us at (609) 616-4956 today.