Driving without a valid driver’s license in Illinois is not just a traffic ticket. It can be a criminal offense.
The law is set out at 625 ILCS 5/6-101, which provides that it is against the law to operate a motor vehicle on a public highway in Illinois without a license, permit, or restricted driving permit (RDP).
A ticket is usually a petty offense, which has a maximum fine of $1,000.
The offense is a Class B misdemeanor if the person had no license and was too young to obtain a permit. A Class B misdemeanor has a penalty of up to six months in jail and a $1,500 fine. Although it is not likely that the defendant would go to jail, the author of this article has seen judges impose very stiff sentences on young drivers to send a message.
If the person’s driver’s license is expired and it has been more than one year since the expiration, the ticket is a Class B misdemeanor offense.
If the person had a driver’s license, it was suspended or revoked, and they failed to get it reinstated after the period of suspension or revocation, then the offense is a Class A misdemeanor. All Class A misdemeanor offenses in Illinois have a possible sentence of up to one year in jail and a fine of $2,500.
Under some circumstances, a ticket for driving without a valid license will result in the car getting towed.
The police may tow the person’s vehicle if the driver did not have a valid license and also did not have proof of insurance. If this occurs, the police will release the car only with proof of insurance covering the vehicle and the written consent of the owner.
If the driver was involved in an accident and is responsible for the death or personal injury of another person, then the vehicle is subject to forfeiture proceedings under 720 ILCS 5/36-1. A vehicle can be forfeited to the State and sold at auction even if the driver was not the owner.
Finally, the most important issue is that a conviction for driving without a license will cause the Secretary of State to suspend the driving privileges of the defendant. Therefore, even if the defendant did not have a license, he or she will be required to wait out the suspension in order to get one. And a third offense of driving without a license will cause the Secretary of State to revoke the driving privileges of the defendant. A revocation requires a formal hearing in order to get reinstated.