Traffic Violations

How Bad Is It to Drive Without a License?

Like all states, New Jersey requires motorists to have a valid driver’s license to operate a vehicle on a public road. Driving without a license is considered a serious traffic violation. Failure to have a valid driver’s license poses a risk of harm to other drivers and pedestrians on the road. The penalty for unlicensed driving in N.J. is severe and can include fines and incarceration. If you are charged with an unlicensed driving offense in New Jersey, it’s important to understand the charges you face and how an attorney can help your case.

New Jersey Unlicensed Driving Laws

Driving without a valid driver’s license is governed by N.J.S.A 39:3-10. This statute specifies that an unlicensed driver may only operate a vehicle on a public highway if one of the following conditions is true:

  • They have a probationary driver’s license.
  • They are under the supervision of a driving course.

Drivers found to be operating a vehicle without a valid driver’s license or without meeting one of these conditions will be charged with a traffic violation. A citation for driving without a driver’s license is often known as a violation of 39:3-10b. These charges come with heavy fines and possible imprisonment. 

The Penalty for Unlicensed Driving in N.J.

Being charged with a violation of 39:3-10b often results in fines and jail time. The penalties you face will vary depending on two main factors: whether or not you’ve had a valid license in the past and if any other traffic violation charges are included in your case. During your initial hearing for your ticket, a judge will examine all the evidence, including your previous driving record, and dole out an appropriate punishment. Punishments can include either fines or jail time and may even include both, depending on the severity of the charge.

For drivers who have previously had a valid driver’s license, punishments include:

  • Up to $500 in fines
  • Up to 60 days in county jail

For drivers who have never had a valid license, punishments are much harsher and include:

  • A minimum fine of $200 with a maximum fine of up to $500
  • Up to 60 days in county jail
  • A minimum 180-day suspension on obtaining a valid driver’s license
  • Additional court costs and fees

Drivers who get cited for driving without a valid driver’s license can often expect higher insurance premiums as well once they obtain their license. Traffic violation fees and jail time can severely impact your life. It’s important that you contact an attorney as soon as possible. This way, they can represent you at your initial hearing and help you defend your case. The sooner you contact an attorney, the better your chances are of reducing your penalties.

penalty unlicensed driving N.J.
Photo by Dan Gold on Unsplash

Defenses for Unlicensed Driving in N.J.

The severity of an unlicensed driving charge in New Jersey boils down to the threat that unlicensed driving poses to other motorists and pedestrians. Getting a valid driver’s license requires motorists to take driving courses and pass a test proving they know the rules of the road and how to operate their vehicle safely. Those who drive without a valid license may not have the knowledge needed to keep everyone safe. This lack of knowledge can lead to serious accidents that can cause injury or even death. The potential risk of physical harm each individual unlicensed driver poses will ultimately determine what kind of defense they can build for their case.

Previously Licensed Drivers

Most charges for unlicensed driving involve an expired license from another state or a foreign country. While these situations do not excuse a violation of the New Jersey license requirement, they can build a defense that supports reducing the penalties. Having a license at one point proves to the court that a driver has a basic understanding of the rules of the road and doesn’t pose as much of a threat as other unlicensed drivers. A similar case can be made for drivers who have attempted to obtain a license but have not passed the required tests. Taking the driving courses indicates a basic understanding of how to drive safely.

Emergency Situations

Alternatively, a strong defense for unlicensed driving can depend on the circumstances surrounding the act. An unlicensed driver who operated a vehicle on public roads for an emergency situation may be able to have their charges dismissed or reduced. In many traffic violation cases, the judge will consider the cause behind the violating act. If you can prove that you were acting in response to an emergency, you can build a strong defense against your charges.

In either case, working with an attorney can help you understand your traffic violation charges. You can also build a stronger defense that can help reduce the penalties. However, other traffic violation charges can also affect the penalties for driving unlicensed. Do you face multiple traffic violations in your case? If so, an attorney can help you understand each and figure out the best plan of action. 

Fight the Penalty for Unlicensed Driving in N.J.

If you face charges for a violation of 39:3-10b, contact Attorney Leon Matchin today. His experience in the traffic courts of New Jersey can help you build a strong defense for your case. Don’t let the penalty for unlicensed driving in N.J. get in the way of your life. Call Attorney Matchin today at (833) 732-7320, or email him at for help with your traffic violations charge.

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