What Happens If You Drive Without a License in Ohio?

Driving without a valid driver's license in Ohio is a serious offense, and not to be taken lightly. If you are operating a motor vehicle in the state of Ohio, you must have a valid license.

What happens if you drive without a license in Ohio?

According to Ohio’s R.C § 4510.12 :

(1) No person, except those expressly exempted under sections 4507.03, 4507.04, and 4507.05 of the Revised Code, shall operate any motor vehicle upon a public road or highway or any public or private property used by the public for purposes of vehicular travel or parking in this state unless the person has a valid driver's license issued under Chapter 4507. of the Revised Code or a commercial driver's license issued under Chapter 4506. of the Revised Code.

Why so serious? This law is in place for YOUR safety: it ensures that everyone on the road is approved to and capable of handling a motor vehicle.

Driving without having ever had a valid license

If this is your first time driving without a license, this offense is an unclassified misdemeanor. You’ll be sentenced to a community residential sanction, may be fined up to one thousand dollars and ordered to serve up to five hundred hours of community service. However, if you fail to complete the term of community service, the court may punish you for indirect criminal contempt.

If you drive without a license again (don’t do this!), things get much more serious. You’ll be charged with a first-degree misdemeanor, which means up to 6 months in jail time and up to $1,000 in fines. The good news is Aceable has made it super easy to get your drivers license, so you shouldn't EVER have to worry about this.

Multiple offenses can lead to jail time!

Driving with an expired license

This offense is a minor misdemeanor. If you’ve been convicted of or pleaded guilty to two or more violations of this type, this offense then becomes a misdemeanor of the first degree. This may be punished by up to 6 months in jail time and up to $1,000 in fines.

Driving with a revoked, suspended or canceled license

This one can be tough. Many reasons why someone may get their license revoked or suspended have nothing to do with driving ability or skill. (For example, not having insurance, failing to pay child support, and high school suspension are some grounds for license suspension). According to Cleveland.com, “Of the 301,830 suspensions issued in Cuyahoga County in 2010, more than half were for not having insurance or failing to pay child support.”

For first time offenders, this offense is typically punished by a fine of up to $1000 and/or 500 hours of community service. If you have three or more convictions within three years, you may have to forfeit your vehicle.

Driving with a valid license that you forgot to bring with you

Let’s say you had to rush out quickly and simply forgot. It happens to the best of us! Your infraction will likely be dismissed once you provide proof that you possessed a valid license at the time of the incident. You may have to still pay an administrative fine, however.

Krista Doyle