Criminal Charges and Penalties for Driving Without a License in North Carolina

Charlotte DWI Lawyer Brad Smith answers the question: “Can I represent myself on a traffic ticket?”


North Carolina law prohibits driving a motor vehicle without a valid driver’s license. Individuals who are caught driving without a license face penalties that may include fines and a jail sentence.

Do not hesitate to contact a criminal defense attorney if you were caught driving without a driver’s license in Charlotte or other parts of North Carolina. Here at Arnold & Smith, PLLC, our knowledgeable lawyers can help if you are facing criminal penalties for driving without a valid license, driving while impaired, license violations, traffic citations, and other offenses.


Expired-Charlotte-Mooresville-Monroe-Criminal-Defense-Lawyer-300x221What is ‘Driving Without a License’ in North Carolina?

In North Carolina, driving without a license encompasses several different license violations:

  • Not carrying your driver’s license while driving
  • Driving when you never had a driver’s license issued
  • Driving on a suspended or revoked license
  • Driving with an expired driver’s license
  • Driving with a license issued by another state if you have lived in North Carolina for more than 60 days (for out-of-state commercial licenses, the requirement is to get a driver’s license issued in North Carolina within 30 days)
  • Failure to comply with license restrictions


Criminal Charges for Driving Without a License in North Carolina

Generally, license violations in North Carolina are broken down into two types of punishments:

  • Getting a “no operator’s license” (NOL) ticket
  • Driving while license revoked (DWLR)

Individuals who are caught driving without a license in their possession, driving with an expired license, or operating a vehicle without ever having a driver’s license issued to them receive an NOL ticket in North Carolina.

Driving with a revoked license, on the other hand, carries serious punishment for the offender. While receiving an NOL ticket is a traffic infraction, not a criminal charge, individuals who get caught driving without a license may still be charged with a misdemeanor in North Carolina.

License violations that may be punished as Class 3 Misdemeanors in North Carolina include:

  1. Driving without a valid license (you were never licensed to drive in the first place);
  2. Failing to comply with your driver’s license restrictions; or
  3. Allowing an unlicensed individual to drive your motor vehicle.

You may be charged with Class 2 Misdemeanor if you:

  • Drive with a revoked license;
  • Drive on a suspended license; or
  • Drive while knowingly using a fake license.


Penalties for Driving Without a License in North Carolina

If you were caught driving without a license in Charlotte or elsewhere in North Carolina, the penalty would depend on the type of your offense:

  • Receiving an NOL ticket may result in a fine of up to $100 and three points added to your driving record;
  • Conviction of a Class 3 Misdemeanor may result in a $200 fine and up to 20 days in jail; or
  • Conviction of a Class 2 Misdemeanor may result in a $1,000 fine and up to 60 days in jail.

In some cases, a driver’s license may be suspended or revoked after getting caught driving without a license in North Carolina. Consult with our skilled criminal defense lawyers at Arnold & Smith, PLLC, if you are facing an NOL infraction or misdemeanor charges in North Carolina. Contact Arnold & Smith, PLLC to consult with one of our knowledgeable criminal defense attorneys, who will review your particular situation and determine what your options are. Call our lawyers at Arnold & Smith, PLLC, at (704) 370-2828 to evaluate your options or fill out our contact form. Now taking cases throughout North Carolina with offices in Uptown Charlotte, Mooresville and Monroe.







The criminal defense attorneys at Arnold & Smith, PLLC make it their mission to zealously defend their clients on a wide range of criminal matters at both the state and federal levels. These matters may include any charge from traffic offenses; DWI/DUI; drug charges (from simple possession to possession with intent to distribute and trafficking); gun permit denials; weapons offenses; and property crimes (larceny, breaking and entering, robbery, fraud, embezzlement, white collar offenses); to sexually related offenses (indecent exposure; sexual assault, crimes against nature, removal from sex offender registry); and violent crimes (domestic violence; assault; manslaughter; homicide, murder). Other legal issues that Arnold & Smith, PLLC criminal clients may be facing include restraining orders, restraining order and probation violations, expungements; appeals; and immigration issues related to criminal charges. Our criminal defense attorneys are passionate about ensuring that individuals empower themselves by being informed about their constitutional rights, and stand at the ready to fight in the defense of those facing criminal charges.






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