What happens if you drive without a licence?

Driving in the UK without a valid licence is a motoring offence which is taken seriously. It can lead to penalty points, fines and even a driving ban. Simply put, drivers are not only required to hold a licence for the vehicle they are driving, but also the correct type of licence for that vehicle.

Driving without licence law:

The Road Traffic Act 1988 states under Section 87 that if you are stopped whilst driving a vehicle of any class on a road in the UK and cannot present a valid driving licence, you are committing an offence and as such will face a penalty. This offence is called “driving without an appropriate licence.”

Driving without licence penalty:

Depending on the nature of the offence, you may receive one or more of the following penalties:

  • Three to six penalty points
  • Up to £1000 fine (if it is an isolated offence)
  • An unlimited fine if there is no insurance

Under no circumstances are you allowed to drive without a licence in the United Kingdom.

What happens if I get stopped by the police and don’t have my licence on me?

The police are entitled to pull any vehicle over they choose to. If they do so and you are not furnished with your valid UK driving licence for the vehicle in question – for example, you have sent it off to the DVLA for a change of address or have simply left it at home – they may make an allowance but will make further enquiries on your identity to insure you hold a valid licence.

What happens if I don’t have the correct licence for the vehicle I am driving?

If you have a manual licence and are found to be driving an automatic vehicle there are no laws against this in the UK. However, an automatic driver’s licence only covers you to drive an automatic vehicle. Therefore, it is illegal to drive a manual car on an automatic licence in the UK and, if caught by the police or involved in an accident, your insurance would be invalid based on the nature of the licence. You can expect to receive at least three penalty points for such an offence.

What happens if I am caught driving whilst disqualified?

Driving whilst you are disqualified (having been banned from driving in a UK court of law) is a serious offence and can carry numerous penalties.

The charges for this offence also takes into consideration the fact that you are driving without insurance as a disqualification makes any insurance completely void and invalid.

The available penalties are:

  • A custodial sentence of up to six months
  • An unlimited fine
  • Both a fine and a period of custody
  • A community order

There will also always be a further period of disqualification.

What happens if I am caught driving with a licence which has expired?

If you are under the age of 70, you must renew your licence every ten years. If you are over the age of 70, you must do this every three years. If you are found to be driving with a licence which has expired, you could face a series of different penalties, namely:

  • Three to six penalty points
  • A £1,000 fine
  • Car seizure (those who repeat offend may even face their car crushed / disposed of)

What happens if I break the terms of my provisional licence?

A provisional licence is issued for learner drivers who are accompanied by a driving instructor or another individual who:

  • Is 21 or older
  • Holds a valid and full driving licence for the vehicle in question
  • Has held said licence for at least three years

If any of these terms are not met, you may face the following penalties:

  • Up to six points on your provisional licence
  • A fine of up to £1,000

If you or your client are accused of driving without a licence, are facing a driving disqualification or a totting up disqualification, please get in touch. Our motoring offence barristers are experts in this specific area of law and are on hand to represent you, enabling the best possible outcome.

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St Pauls Chambers
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The switchboard will open from 08:30 until 17:30

Phone: +44 (0)1132 455 866
Email: [email protected]
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