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What Happens If I’m Driving Without a License in Texas?

Posted in Car Accidents on March 19, 2021

Anyone who operates a motor vehicle in the State of Texas must have a valid driver’s license. A license is proof of the legal authorization to operate a motor vehicle. Driving without a license in Texas is a misdemeanor that can come with serious penalties – especially if you cause an accident as an unlicensed driver.

Consequences for Driving Without a License in Texas

Driving without a license is a crime in Texas. This means you could face a criminal conviction, an arrest and even jail time. Under state law, your driver’s license must be legally authorized, valid, up-to-date and the correct class for the vehicle you drive. If you operate a commercial truck, for instance, you need a Class C license.

Operating a car without a driver’s license in Texas can lead to:

  • Impoundment of your motor vehicle.
  • A ticket for committing a moving violation.
  • A fine of around $200 for a first offense and more for a second offense.
  • A fine of $500 and up to six months in jail for a third offense.
  • An arrest and jail time for a misdemeanor crime.
  • A permanent conviction on your criminal record.

If you were driving with an expired driver’s license, the penalty is a fine of up to $200, plus a $100 surcharge for three years. You can avoid this fine, however, if you get your driver’s license renewed, pay a $20 fee and bring proof of the renewal to the courthouse. If you fail to follow up with renewal and miss your scheduled court date, however, you could face a class C misdemeanor on top of the traffic infraction.

If you were driving on a suspended or revoked license, the penalties can be even steeper. This is called Driving While License Invalid in Texas (Texas Transportation Code 521.457). It is a class C misdemeanor that can come with consequences such as a second suspension of your license, a fine of up to $500 and a surcharge of $250 for the next three years. These penalties can increase for a second or subsequent offense, up to six months in jail and $2,000 in fines.

What If You Cause an Accident While Driving Without a License?

You can face life-changing penalties for causing an automobile accident while driving without a license. You may get arrested for this offense, as it is a class A misdemeanor. The penalties for this crime include up to a year in jail and/or a fine of up to $4,000. If you cause a car accident that results in injuries or death to another person while driving on a suspended or revoked license, it is also a class A misdemeanor.

You will face civil liability for causing a car accident while unlicensed as well. Civil liability means financial responsibility for the injuries and losses suffered in the car accident. Your auto insurance provider will be responsible for covering the medical bills and property repairs of all injured victims. If you were also driving without auto insurance, these expenses may become your responsibility to pay out of pocket.

What Is Negligent Entrustment?

If someone negligently entrusted his or her vehicle to you while knowing you were unlicensed, that person could bear a portion of liability for a car accident. For example, it is against the law for a parent to knowingly allow a child who is unlicensed to operate a motor vehicle. If you get into a car accident in this scenario, the person who negligently let you drive may have to pay some or all of the financial damages through his or her auto insurance provider. This could lead to an increase in that party’s insurance premiums.

What to Do After an Accident While Unlicensed

Stop your vehicle at the scene of the car accident whether or not you were driving with a valid license. Fleeing the scene can result in much more severe penalties than driving without a license. Then, contact a lawyer for assistance. A San Antonio, Texas car accident lawyer can help you understand your options and rights after a collision while driving without a license.