Tempted to get behind the wheel without a license? Although you may think just running to the store or even getting to work is worth the risk, it isn’t. Read on to find out how easily one simple traffic violation can become a major life expense.

There are many reasons that you may find yourself without a license—and without a way around town. If your license was revoked because of a DUI or other serious offense or has expired—or if you just haven’t gotten one yet—it’s important to know what you risk losing if you choose to get in the driver’s seat anyway. 

No one wants to spend more than they have to on auto insurance. That’s why Insurify makes it easy to compare cheap car insurance quotes from hundreds of national and regional insurance carriers (even the ones that cover high-risk drivers) in minutes. 

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What Are the Consequences of Driving Without a License?

Well, there are a few.

1. You’ll find yourself in more debt. 

With fines ranging from $150 to $10,000, driving without a license isn’t the kind of lottery you want to play. And these fines are just for first offenses. The extra costs can pile up fast. Consider how much you’ll lose in terms of a spike in your insurance premium, possible court costs, vehicle impoundment fees, and more—depending on how many times you’ve committed the offense. 

2. You might have to get lawyers involved. 

If you lost your license because of a DUI or other charge, you might already be up to your eyeballs in debt. If you face jail time because you’ve been caught driving without a license—and you’ve been charged with a criminal offense—consider how much it’s going to cost to find a law firm to represent you in court. Don’t be fooled by all the ads for a free consultation. That’s just to begin your case. Consider the costs involved in paying a criminal defense lawyer by the hour just to lessen the penalties and charges brought on by one wrong decision.

3. You could add a misdemeanor or felony to your record. 

Being pulled over by a police officer and paying a fine is one thing, but driving without a license can get you pinned with a range of offenses from a traffic infraction to a jail sentence. In New York, for example, you could go to jail for 30 days. In Arizona, this mistake is considered a Class I Misdemeanor offense and could get you imprisonment for up to six months. And for both New York and Arizona, these penalties can be given on just a first offense. Try this in Florida a few times, and you’ll have a third-degree felony on your record. Ouch!

4. Your insurance rates will go up. 

Insurance companies don’t look kindly on risk-takers. Whether or not you have insurance at the moment, driving without a license screams, “Charge me more for my insurance, please!” You’ll also find that you have fewer companies to choose from, as not all insurance companies cover high-risk drivers.

5. Your car (or motorcycle) could go bye-bye.

In states like Alabama, driving while revoked, suspended, or otherwise unlicensed means immediate vehicle impoundment. On top of a $100–$500 fine in that same state, you’ll be paying several hundred dollars to the impound lot just to get your vehicle back. In Alaska, you could even face having to give up your car entirely.

6. Your vehicle registration can be revoked.

Let’s say that you get your car back from the impound lot. That’s all good unless your motor vehicle registration has been taken back (also called revocation) by the DMV. Now, you are facing the added time it took to get your car back and the added charges brought on by having to re-register your vehicle.

7. Your license might be suspended for even longer. 

A second offense in Colorado means that you can’t even be issued a driver’s license for three years. Get charged with a third offense in North Carolina, and you could be facing a permanent license suspension. Sure, it’s a bummer that you already have a revoked license. However, think about how much more you will miss out on if your driving privileges are suspended even longer—or forever.

Driving Without a License State by State 

If you wonder what the penalties for driving with a suspended license (or an expired license) are in your home state, the National Conference of State Legislatures has created a searchable database that includes all the particulars. Here you can look up all 50 states, reference the exact legislative code, and read detailed penalties for each offense.

Driving Without a License FAQ

What is the maximum fine for a conviction of driving without a valid driver’s license?

Indiana carries the harshest fines for traffic offenses related to driving without a valid driver’s license. In this state, you can be fined up to $10,000.

What happens if you get caught driving without a license?

You’re really taking your chances driving without a license, as the penalties not only vary from state to state but also depend on how many times you’ve been caught. Depending on these factors, you could be fined, you could be charged with a misdemeanor or felony, your vehicle could be impounded, your license may be revoked, your plates could be taken away, and you could even face jail time. 

How much is a ticket for driving without a license?

If you are lucky enough just to get a traffic ticket (also known as a traffic infraction), it can be in the hundreds of dollars. It all depends on the state that you are driving in. In Idaho, for example, a first-time conviction for driving without a valid license is punishable by a fine of up to $150. The fines and severity of punishment increase with each offense. 

Where can I get cheap car insurance online?

Insurify.com is an AI-powered insurance quote comparison site that allows you to quickly and easily compare hundreds of quotes from local and national providers online. And it’s easy to use. Just answer a few questions about your vehicle and driving history, and the site will generate 10+ reliable, cheap quotes for you in minutes.

Conclusion: How to get the best and cheapest car insurance

If driving without a license has affected you financially, then for affordable car insurance quotes, you can count on Insurify. 

In a matter of minutes, Insurify can return the cheapest car insurance quotes for your driving profile—including discounts. It’s the fastest, easiest way to get car insurance without having to call individually for rates. And you can do it all from the convenience and privacy of your own home. If you are considered a high-risk driver, don’t worry. Of the hundreds of regional and national carriers that Insurify compares, many are created just to serve the needs of harder-to-insure drivers. With Insurify, every driver can shop around for cheap car insurance quotes!

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Updated October 29, 2020

Jeannette Wisniewski is a technology writer whose passion is encouraging people to engage with technology by making it more understandable and more interesting. Though she enjoys writing business copy for a wide range of subjects, she is most inspired by emerging tech and its applications. She is a graduate of San Jose State University, a Georgia Peach at heart, and happy to call Boise, ID home.