It is dangerous and illegal for a minor with no license to drive a motor vehicle. While the legal consequences vary with each state and with each case, an unlicensed minor could face fines and even jail time for driving. The circumstances of the case play an important factor. Were alcohol or speed involved? How old was the minor? In the case of a minor not properly supervised by parents, charges could be laid against the parents, as well as a civil suit for damages and injuries. Another factor to consider would be is the minor partially licensed. Does he have a learner's permit?
Penalties for Driving Without a License
In California, being caught driving without a license will usually result in a fine, payment of court fees and payment of towing and impound fees. In the case of a minor, if the vehicle is their parent’s car it makes no difference and the car will still be impounded even though they are not the legal owner. In addition the incident will go on the minor’s record and they will be delayed from obtaining a license once they reach the eligible age to do so.
Typical Fines and Fees
Fines for a teenager driving without a license are different for those who have a suspended, or revoked license. Driving without a license is usually a misdemeanor offense, not a felony. For a first-time offender, the fine for driving without a license normally range between $100 and $500, with a possibility of jail time, depending on the circumstances, the judge, and the state you are in. In Michigan, for example, a teen could face up to 93 days in jail, if the judge felt the situation warranted it.
If the incident involved a collision or a hit-and-run, the consequences could be more severe with additional charges being laid. In addition to the fine, there is the cost of a lawyer, towing and getting the vehicle out of impound to be considered.
Impact on Insurance Rates
The largest issue facing minors in the long term who get caught driving with no license is that their insurance rates may be affected permanently. When the minor finally receives his license and purchases insurance on a vehicle, the incident that occurred as an unlicensed minor will definitely affect the premium paid. This could result in higher insurance premiums.
Types of Punishment That May be Levied
Minors can face six months to one year imprisonment in a juvenile corrections facility for driving without a license. However in actuality that sentence will likely be argued down to community service, of which the hours required will vary. Others people may also be affected by an unlicensed minor driving. Charges against the owner of the vehicle for allowing the incident to occur and/or charges against the parents for negligence may also be laid.
Risk of Lawsuits
Since the unlicensed minor should technically not be on the road, this will play a significant role should there be an accident. For example, if the minor is stopped at a red light and a drunk driver runs the red and slams into the minor's car, the minor and their family can then be sued by the drunk driver. It sounds hard to believe but the minor should not have been in a car at that spot, so the drunk driver actually has a strong case. In addition insurance does not cover unlicensed minors.