Driving Without a License

New Jersey Unlicensed Driver Defense Attorney

Securing a valid driver’s license in New Jersey involves satisfying several requirements. You must have valid identification and possess status to reside in the United States. An applicant must also pass both a written and road test if they do not already have reciprocal driving privileges in another state which they are surrendering in order to obtain an New Jersey license. If someone cannot fulfill the requirement of the NJ Motor Vehicle Commission, are suspended in another state or cannot meet another fundamental requirement in order be licensed in the state, there lack the privilege to operate a motor vehicle without risking arrest. The charge that you face when this occurs is an unlicensed driver violation.

The lawyers at Marshall Bonus Proetta & Oliver have been successfully defended individuals charged with driving without a license for decades throughout New Jersey. And even before dedicating their work exclusively to representing the accused, several attorneys here served as municipal prosecutors. We know how the process works and what it takes to avoid a conviction for driving without a license. Contact our office to speak to a New Jersey unlicensed driver defense attorney in a free consultation. We can be reached 24/7 at 877-450-8301.

Understanding the Charge of Driving Without a License in New Jersey

The charge of driving without a license in New Jersey is set forth at N.J.S.A. 39:3-10. This law provides that no person shall drive a motor vehicle without being in the possession of a basic driver’s license or probationary driver’s license (e.g. permit) that has been issued by Division of Motor Vehicles. A basic requirement of securing either validation is passing a six point identification verification. You must than meet other requirements that include:

  • Performing a vision test;
  • Have an ability to understand traffic control devices;
  • Demonstrating knowledge of safe driving practices through successfully completion of a written test; and
  • Showing that they possess the ability to operate a motor vehicle safely through completion of a road test.

Further, a person cannot obtain a full license without appropriate photo identification, with the exception of high school aged students who are enrolled within a driver education program.

It is also important to note that no person under the age of 18 can obtain a license without first obtaining a probationary license. In order to obtain the latter, teens may apply for a learner’s permit at the age of 16. After completing a driver’s education course, teens can practice driving, with an adult aged 21 years of age or older, acting as the front seat passenger. At age 17, these same teens can seek a probationary license, which allows the teen to drive unsupervised, but is not a full license. At the age of 18, a teen who has held their probationary license for a time period of one year without issue may apply for a full driver’s license.

Because of the complicated nature of the graduated licensing system in New Jersey, it can be difficult to understand driving without a license charges. There are typically two reasons why someone is faces an unlicensed driver ticket. The first way and the one least serious, is failing to have your license on your person or driving with a valid license which has expired. You are required in the state of New Jersey to have a valid driver’s license in your possession whenever you operate a motor vehicle. Failure to comply with this requirement results in penalties set forth under subsection (a) of N.J.S.A. 39:3-10. The second way someone can be charged with violating this law is by driving without having first obtained a valid driver’s licenses. This can occur because the motorist has never obtained a license to operate a car or truck anywhere previously or because the ability to utilize an out-of-state privilege has expired (i.e. they have become a resident of New Jersey and have not obtained a license from our state).

Penalties for Driving without a License in New Jersey

The penalties for driving without a license in the state of New Jersey are significant. If you have a valid driver’s license, but it is simply not in your possession, you face a minimal fine. If you fall, however, into the second category of unlicensed driver violations, you face much more severe penalties. If you are convicted of driving without a license because you never secured a valid privilege in NJ, you face:

  • A fine of $500.00;
  • Suspension of your ability to secure a license for 180 days; and
  • Up to 60 days in the county jail.

It should also be noted that once someone is convicted for driving without a license, their ability to operate is suspended. If they are thereafter caught again, they face a summons for driving while suspended. This can be a vicious cycle that leads to a mandatory jail term, thousands in fines and surcharges, and other significant consequences.

Defenses to Driving without a License in New Jersey

Unlike many other traffic violations, operating without a license has limited defenses. This is because, while the prosecution has the burden of proof, it is typically easy to establish that you were operating a motor vehicle and failed to possess a valid driver’s license at the time of operation. Notwithstanding, there are several defenses that may be pursued, including:

Emergency situation. The first defense to a driving without a license charge is the claim that you were driving a vehicle sans license as the result of an emergency situation where there was a threat of injury to you or to another person. For example, if your spouse was suffering from a heart attack, you may have needed to drive them to the hospital, or at least take over driving duties if they were operating the vehicle at the time the heart attack occurred.

Lack of operation. The second viable defense to a driving without a license charge is a lack of operation of the vehicle in question. You may argue that you were not driving the vehicle at the supposed time of your offense. For example, if the vehicle was parked but not turned on, the vehicle was technically not in operation, even if you were in the driver’s seat.

If a defense is not plausible, striking a plea deal may be within your best interest. When you strike a plea bargain with the prosecution, you plead “guilty” in exchange for a reduced sentence or the conviction of a less serious crime. Understanding plea bargains and how they work can be tricky – it is always best to have your attorney negotiate these deals on your behalf to ensure that your best interests are protected.

Our Experienced Traffic Offense Defense Lawyers Can Help You

At the law offices of Marshall, Bonus & Oliver, we explore the most effective strategies when our clients are facing driving without a license, or any other traffic offense-related charges. Not only can we assist you in understanding the charges against you, building a defense, or negotiating a plea bargain, we will also do everything we can to file motions with the court to have evidence against you withheld, to establish misconduct (if it occurred), and to protect your right to a speedy trial. We also promise to provide you with competent legal representation – a right that you are guaranteed per the constitution.

If you have been charged with driving without a license, please know that there is still hope – a charge is not a conviction, and does not necessarily mean that you will be penalized to the full extent under the law.

To schedule a free case consultation with our talented attorneys, contact us online or by phone today. We are available to meet at a time and location that is convenient for you, and we will protect your confidentiality.