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Driving without a licence

Driving without a valid driving licence is an offence, and the penalty – for the basic offence – is 3 to 6 penalty points, a fine of up to £1,000, and possible disqualification.

Perhaps the most egregious example of driving without a licence would be the driver who, having never taken the driving test and having no entitlement to drive at all, gets into a car and sets off down the road. But there are also some other ways that one can be liable for driving without a licence.

Driving without the correct licence

There are a number of categories of driving licence entitlements. For instance, to drive a motorbike, a bus or a large commercial vehicle, your driving licence needs to include certain entitlements (which require specific training, testing, and in the case of certain commercial vehicles, a Certificate of Professional Competence).

If you have a conventional driving licence for a car, and you drive a vehicle that you have no entitlement to drive, then you can be prosecuted for driving without a licence (with the potential penalties noted above).

If you are a learner driver with a provisional licence, you are required (i) to display “L” plates on your vehicle, and (ii) to be accompanied by a person who is at least 21 years old and who has held a full driving licence for at least 3 years. If you drive without meeting those conditions, then you can be held liable for driving without a licence.

Other related offences

If you drive without a licence, any motor insurance you have may be invalid. If that’s the case, or if you simply drive without a licence and without insurance, you could be charged with the separate offence of driving without insurance.

Not just a minor infraction

Driving without a licence is a serious offence with significant potential penalties. Perhaps the main reason for this is the danger that unlicensed drivers pose to other road users, passengers and pedestrians.

If you’re stopped by the police and they find that you do not have a valid licence (or are not entitled to operate the vehicle that you’re driving), then a legal advisor may be able to help you. An experienced motoring law solicitor will be able to tell you whether there are mitigating circumstances or other matters applicable to your case that might mean you’re not guilty of the offence or might lead to a less severe penalty.

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