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What Happens If You Drive Without a Valid License in Texas?

We know you’re eager to get behind the wheel, but doing so without a valid driver license is extremely dicey when you’re in the Lone Star State. Here’s a look at the repercussions you could face if you get caught driving without one.

Driving Without a License

Did you learn how to drive but decided to skirt the whole getting your license thing? That’s not a good idea in Texas. Actually, it’s not a good idea in any state.

Drivers License
It’s never a good idea to drive without a valid license

No matter how good your driving skills are, all the police officer will care about is whether or not you have a valid license. If you can’t produce one there could be very serious consequences.

  • For starters, if there isn’t a licensed driver in the car with you (along with valid car registration and insurance) the motor vehicle will be impounded.
  • Next, you’ll receive a ticket.
  • Then you’ll be arrested and taken to jail. Seriously. You’ll stay in jail until bail is granted and paid by a kind soul on the outside.
  • The bail, fees and fines are typically around $1,000.

In the case of an accident where someone is injured and you’re found to be at fault, you’ll receive a Class A misdemeanor. The penalty is up to a year in jail and a fine of up to $4,000.

Why risk it when getting your Texas driver’s license is easier than ever? Check out our mobile-friendly Texas adult drivers ed and teen drivers ed courses!

Spongebob Drivers license
Get your driver license!

Driving With a Revoked or Suspended License

Texas has a special designation for this traffic violation – Driving While License is Invalid (DWLI). It also applies when a person drives with a license that’s been denied or cancelled.

If you get caught DWLI the penalty is stiff. For the first offense your license will be suspended a second time, effectively doubling the length of the original license suspension. You could also get a fine of up to $500 and a surcharge of $250 a year for three years on top of that.

If you get caught DWLI a second time you’ll be charged with a Class B misdemeanor. The penalty could include up to six months in jail and $2,000 in fines.  

Need a way to get to work? Instead of risking it, you can get an occupational license while your regular license is revoked or suspended.

Driving With an Expired License

Is your license renewal notice still sitting in a pile of mail at home? Getting stopped when you have an expired driver’s license will speed up the renewal process. In order to avoid a fine up to $200 (plus a surcharge of $100 a year for three years) you’ll need to:

  • Get your license renewed
  • Provide proof of the renewal
  • Pay a $20 fee

All that needs to be done before your scheduled court date. If you fail to follow up and renew your license a Class C misdemeanor can get added to the traffic violation.

Driving With a Valid License You Forgot to Bring With You

Sometimes our brains let us down, and we remember the keys (only because they’re necessary) but forget our driver’s license. If you have the worst luck in the world, that’s probably the one time you’ll get pulled over.

Pulled over
You will get a ticket if you are pulled over and don’t have a valid license.

Should this happen, don’t panic. You’ll get a ticket for not having your license, but you’ll have a chance to prove you simply forgot it. All you have to do is show up to the courthouse on your court date and present your license to the judge. Once they verify it was valid at the time you were stopped the ticket will be dismissed.

Its a snap, if you just forgot your license!

Driving With an Out-of-State License

There’s one more situation you need to watch out for. If you move to Texas from another state you can drive legally with your valid out-of-state license for up to 90 days. After that you’re expected to get a valid Texas driver’s license. If you don’t and you get stopped for a traffic violation, you’ll get slapped with a ticket that’s up to $200 (if you’re lucky it will just be a written warning).

Lots of people let procrastination get the best of them and put this off. But don’t be one of those people! It may seem like the state of Texas is putting you out, but really getting a Texas license only takes about 15 minutes at the local DPS if you check-in online.

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