Driving freely through Utah’s roads is something most belief is a right rather than a privilege. However, to drive within the state’s limits, you must have a valid driver’s license, which is a privilege granted by the government. If you get caught driving without a valid driver’s license, you may face severe consequences. Many people wonder whether driving without their license will automatically lead to jail time. As you will see through this article, whether you go to jail or not will depend on your specific situation. Our Salt Lake City, UT criminal defense attorney Darwin Overson from Overson & Bugden, explains.
Can I Get Charged for Driving Without a License in Utah?
Driving without a license in Utah is never a good idea. If a police officer pulls you over and you can’t provide him with a valid license, you can get in trouble. The real question in this scenario is whether not having a valid driver’s license will land you some criminal charges. The short answer to this question is probably not. There may be different scenarios where you can be caught driving without a valid driver’s license. For instance, you are licensed to operate a Utah vehicle, but can’t physically provide the officer with your license.
Moreover, you may be driving with an expired license. Driving on an expired license would be the equivalent of not having one. Thus, the officer will likely give you a fine. In these scenarios, there is not much to warrant an arrest or being charged with a crime. Instead, the police officer will likely fine you and warn you about having a valid driver’s license with you at all times.
However, your situation can take a turn for the worse if a police officer stops you and finds out you are driving while being a restricted driver. In short, driving on a suspended or revoked license can lead to a more serious matter. In this situation, you can be formally charged.
Can You Go to Jail for Driving Without a License in the State of Utah?
You may face jail time, depending on the circumstances of your case. As we mentioned, you can have your license suspended or revoked, which bars you from operating your vehicle while the suspension is in place or at all if your license was revoked. There are different reasons why your license may be revoked or suspended in Utah. One of the most common reasons to suspend or revoke your license is being convicted of DUI (Driving Under the Influence).
Utah has one of the strictest DUI laws in the U.S., and if you are caught driving under the effects of alcohol, you can face jail time and have your license suspended or revoked. The penalties for driving on a suspended license can change depending on your circumstances. Typically, if you are caught driving while suspended, you can face a Class B or a Class C misdemeanor charge.
In Utah, misdemeanors – the lesser type of criminal offense – are classified into classes A, B, and C, A being the most severe type of misdemeanor and C being the more inferior crime type. If you are convicted for a Class B misdemeanor in Utah, you can face up to six months in jail and up to $1,000 in fines. Your conviction will remain in your criminal record, which poses additional complications in addition to these penalties.
As you can see, it is possible to get jail time for driving without a valid license in Utah. It is always in your best interest to retain a skilled Utah attorney for driver’s license division hearings to help you avoid having your license revoked or suspended.
What Can I Do to Recover My Driver’s License if it Was Suspended in Utah?
It is essential to understand that you can fight to have your license reinstated after its suspension. However, many factors can impact your ability to recover your license quickly. For instance, if you are a repeat DUI offender, your license may be suspended for an extended period. If you are a first DUI offender in Utah, your license may be suspended for 120 days. However, if you are charged with a third DUI offense, your license may be suspended for up to two years. Other factors, such as your age and the DUI policies in your county, can also significantly impact the length of your license’s suspension.
Fortunately, you can intervene and fight to avoid having your license suspended. You can request a hearing with Utah’s Driver’s License Division (DLD) if you were arrested. It is best to do this within ten days of your arrest, or it may be nearly impossible to recover your license. Once you request your hearing, an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) will examine your claim and determine whether your license should be reinstated or not.
The importance of having competent, skilled legal representation throughout this process cannot be stressed enough. Facing your hearing alone is something you should avoid. While this process is a civil one – and not a criminal one – our Utah criminal defense attorneys can still guide you and help you make the right decisions.
If the ALJ ultimately determines that your driver’s license should be suspended, your attorney can still fight to get you a provisional license that can allow you to go to work. This license, known as a “limited license,” can still give you certain privileges and help you carry on with the essential things in your life, such as going to work, doing groceries, and other necessary chores.
Utah Criminal Defense Attorneys Offering Free Consultations
If you or a loved one was caught driving without a valid license in Utah, we can help. As we discussed previously, driving without a valid license can lead to severe consequences. However, you don’t have to go through this trying time alone. Our Riverton City criminal defense attorneys from Overson & Bugden, can help you fight for your driving privileges. To learn more about all of our services in a free, confidential consultation, call our law offices today at (801) 758-2287.