Driving without a license and not having a driver’s license on your person are both crimes in the State of Florida. However, driving without a license is a more serious offense.
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Driving without a license
According to Florida Statutes §322.03, “A person may not drive any motor vehicle upon a highway in this state unless such person has a valid driver’s license.” There are several reasons a motorist may not have a valid license, including:
- They did not apply for a license
- The state revoked their license
- The state suspended their license
- Their driver’s license has expired
Failure to obtain a license or driving on a suspended or revoked license is considered a “willful” offense. When the state suspends or revokes a license, it does so as a penalty for dangerous or negligent driving. Continuing to drive after the state has taken away your privileges can result in serious legal consequences.
Penalties for driving with a suspended or revoked license in Florida
Driving on a canceled, suspended, or revoked license can result in fines and jail time. According to Florida Statutes §322.34, the state considers the first offense a second-degree misdemeanor. A second offense is a misdemeanor of the third degree. Third or subsequent offenses may carry felony charges.
Driving without a license on your person
The state expects motor vehicle operators to have their license on their person when driving. Having a valid license but not carrying it is generally regarded as a “correctable offense.”
The state may issue you a ticket, but you can usually fix the citation by presenting a valid license. Not having your license with you is not as serious of a violation as driving on a suspended or revoked license.
What happens if you are in a car accident and you do not have a license?
Involvement in a car accident while driving without a license can result in legal consequences and may affect your pursuit of related financial damages. Again, not having a valid license or driving on a revoked or suspended license may have more of an impact than driving without your license on your person.
Florida requires an official report for car accidents involving injuries or death, according to Florida Statutes §316.066. The law enforcement officer called to the scene will make the report.
To do so, they will request your license and registration. If you do not have a license or your license is suspended or revoked, the officer will likely charge you with an offense. If you simply do not have your license on you, you may receive a ticket.
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Can you seek compensation for your damages if you did not have your license?
Not having your license on your person should not affect your ability to file a personal injury protection (PIP) insurance claim. PIP pays for 80 percent of your accident-related medical bills, no matter who is at fault for the crash.
If the other driver was at fault, you may be able to pursue a liability insurance claim against them to pay for medical care that exceeds your PIP coverage. You may also seek:
- Lost wages
- Loss of earning capacity
- Pain and suffering
- Personal property damages
If insurance cannot resolve your case, you might be eligible to seek compensation through a personal injury lawsuit.
Charges involving your license could negatively affect your case
Driving without a valid license or on a suspended or revoked license may nullify your PIP insurance coverage or provide a reason for the insurance company to dispute your claims. Driving without a valid license may not bar you from seeking compensation if another driver caused your crash, but it could impact the value of your insurance settlement or trial verdict.
According to Florida Statutes §768.81, the state operates on a model of pure comparative negligence. This means that you can pursue compensation even if your own negligent actions, such as driving without a license, contributed to your damages.
The court will assess your percentage of fault and reduce your verdict by that amount. For example, if you win $100,000, but bear 40 percent of the liability for your accident, you would receive $60,000. Even if your case does not go to trial, your degree of fault will likely come into play during insurance negotiations.
The Law Offices of Anidjar & Levine can help
If you suffered injuries in an accident and you or another driver did not have a license, our team can help. Our car accident attorneys can assist you with a PIP insurance claim, liability insurance claim, or take legal action, if necessary.
To find out more, call the Law Offices of Anidjar & Levine for a free, no-obligation consultation.