There are three types of paperwork required to operate a motor vehicle: insurance, registration, and a driver’s license. They’re all pretty important to have: car insurance allows others on the road to be protected for your bad behavior; the registration proves that the car you’re driving is yours, isn’t stolen, and is legally allowed to be on the road for that state; and the driver’s license, of course, proves that the state thinks you can drive.
So what happens if you decide that you don’t need “The Man” to tell you whether or not you’re allowed to get on the road? Well, driving without a license might not be as bad a crime as bank robbery, but as far as the states are concerned, it’s a serious offense, and driving without a license is criminal.
Years of data have proven that drivers who receive an education on how to drive and are certified by various state bodies, like the DMV, cause fewer accidents and are generally better drivers. Drivers who have no idea what they’re doing cause accidents, meaning the more unlicensed drivers on the road, the more injuries and death there are. As far as all 50 states are concerned, by getting behind the wheel, you’re putting the life of everybody else on the road at risk.
Getting Caught With No License
It starts innocently with a traffic stop. In most states, if you lack any of the “big three” in documentation, you’re not legally allowed to drive. So the police will make you get out of your car, and then impound it. None of this is on their dime, by the way: you’ll be paying for the tow truck and storage while your car cools its tires at a state impound lot. That can run you up to $2000 … and that’s before you pay off any parking tickets that may be associated with your car.
Then you’ll get a letter in the mail with your court date. Driving without a license is a crime, and you will have to go to court for it. The punishment, if you’re convicted, varies widely. New York, for example, will fine you up to $500 and thirty days in jail. Illinois, meanwhile, will simply take away your driving privileges: a handful of repeat offenders will never be allowed to receive a driver’s license again. The punishment varies widely from state to state, but it’s generally treated as a first-degree misdemeanor and will be punished as such. And if you’re convicted, it’ll go on your permanent record, making it more difficult for you to get a job, secure credit, or otherwise be an upstanding citizen.
The Total Cost
We’ve already mentioned the several thousand dollars it will take to get your car back. Then there’s insurance.
Say you get your car back, you get your license, and you need to get insurance: you’re going to find that your previous indiscretion will haunt you. Drivers convicted of one offense of driving without a license often see their premiums rise by twenty to thirty percent. After all, you’re announcing to your insurer that you’re a huge risk.
So, by driving without a license, you’ll lose thousands of dollars up front, thousands of dollars over your driving career, have a harder time finding a job and a home, and go to jail.
Suddenly, getting a license seems more appealing, huh?