Q: What is the difference between driving without a license and driving with a suspended license?

A: The quick answer is that, depending on the circumstances, driving without a license in the state of Virginia is often the less serious offense. There are three main circumstances in which a person can be caught driving without a license:

  1. He never bothered to obtain a license in the first place (many curious teenagers are guilty of this offense).
  2. He forgot to renew his license on time.
  3. He moved from another state and didn't bother to apply for a Virginia license.

If you're in one of the latter two categories, your penalties will be minimal; if you're a teen joyrider, though, a judge may treat your case more seriously.

Driving with a suspended license is a much different animal than driving with no license at all. If your license has been suspended for any period of time, it's usually because you were convicted of a serious criminal offense, such as DUI or reckless driving. Driving with a suspended license will rightly be seen by a judge or jury as not merely being ignorant of, but actively flouting, the laws of the state of Virginia. Because the state can't suspend your license again, likely penalties will include stiff fines and jail time, as well as a possible felony conviction. Questions? Call the experienced criminal defense attorneys of Jarrell, Hicks & Waldman, PC for a free consultation.