Attorney J. Bradley Smith answering the question: “What is the difference between a misdemeanor and a felony?”
According to a recent article with MyFox8, the issue of unlicensed drivers in North Carolina has become a serious problem, one that has prompted law enforcement agencies across the state to take notice. Recent statistics reveal that one in every seven drivers in North Carolina is behind the wheel without a valid license. Those numbers raise alarm in the law enforcement community and have prompted some departments to begin cracking down, actively searching for those behind the wheel when they should not be.
According to data from AAA, a whopping 21 percent of deadly accidents in the state involve an unlicensed driver. Another report says that nationwide, 18.2 percent of such fatal crashes involve unlicensed drivers. Between 2007 and 2009, AAA estimates that such unlicensed drivers were involved in crashes where 21,000 people died.
Another issue for those driving without proper permission is that unlicensed driving often leads to other criminal acts. For instance, AAA says that the majority of fatal hit-and-run accidents involve an unlicensed driver. That means that when the driver is ultimately located an additional criminal charge will be piled on top of driving without a license.
Those in the state pushing for a crackdown on unlicensed drivers also point to the financial cost of such accidents. Unlicensed drivers are by their very nature uninsured drivers, which means that when an accident occurs, the other party’s insurer will typically have to foot the bill. This added expense is passed along to everyone else by way of increased monthly premiums to account for the risk associated with unlicensed drivers.
Driving without a license is mentioned in North Carolina Statute 20-35. The law states that driving without a valid license is a Class 2 misdemeanor which can result in fines and even possible jail time. Driving on a revoked or suspended license because of lack of insurance or a prior DUI conviction is an even more serious offense. Suspended license due to lack of insurance can lead to an even longer license suspension for a first-time offense and permanent revocation for multiple convictions.
Those who were caught driving on a suspended license due to a DUI charge face mandatory substance abuse classes, a yearlong license suspension, fines and court costs. Second offenses require lengthy license suspensions and the use of an ignition interlock device. Third and fourth convictions are very serious indeed, Class F felonies that carry possible prison sentences and hefty fines.
The moral of the story is clear: the risk of getting caught driving without a license is too high to justify taking the chance. Arnold & Smith, PLLC is a Charlotte based criminal defense, traffic violation defense and civil litigation law firm servicing Charlotte and the surrounding area. If you or someone you know need legal assistance, please contact Arnold & Smith, PLLC today at (704) 370-2828.
“1 in 7 NC drivers don’t have a license,” by Lindsey Eaton, published at MyFox8.com.
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