What Happens if I Get Caught Driving Without a License in Illinois?

Web Admin - Friday, December 13, 2013

By Colin H. Gilbert 



The State of Illinois takes driving without a license very seriously. The law does not view this like a mere speeding ticket or red light violation. Instead, the Illinois Vehicle Code allows the state to pursue criminal charges against drivers who get on the road without a license.

The law breaks down the seriousness of getting caught driving without a license into three separate categories depending on a variety of factors. These factors include whether or not the reason the person has a license, whether the person ever had a license, and the person’s age.

Driving without a license starts off as a petty offense. The law considers it a petty offense if the person had a license at one point in the past year, and merely let it lapse. In these cases the law limits the punishment to a $500 fine. If the person’s license expired more than a year ago, or if the driver in question is below the age to get a driver’s license then the law upgrades the crime to a class B misdemeanor. 

Class B misdemeanors can trigger punishments of up to $1,500 in fines, and 180 days in prison. However, jail time for unlicensed driving in this case is uncommon, and judges are allowed to sentence offenders to probation or community service instead. The law may also punish driving without a license as a Class A misdemeanor in the event that the driver committed the offense after the Secretary of State suspended or revoked their license. In these cases, the court may sentence the offender to up to a year in prison, along with $2,500 dollars in fines.

Additionally, people caught driving without a license face more than just criminal sanctions. The Secretary of State will also get involved by suspending their license. License suspensions can last anywhere from two months to a year depending on the number of convictions for driving without a license that a person has received. Also, license suspension affects even those people who never received a driver’s license, since they will be unable to get one for the length of their suspension. Furthermore, after a person’s fifth conviction, the Secretary of State can revoke a person’s driving privileges. In this instance, the state will not allow the person to drive until they have recovered their privileges in a formal hearing.


If you face criminal charges for driving without a license, you do not have to go through the process alone. Contact a Schaumburg criminal defense lawyer today. We serve many northwest suburban areas including Rolling Meadows, Arlington Heights, Barrington, and other nearby communities.

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