Driving Without A License in California (VC 12500)

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Today I will be discussing VC 12500, which is the California code section giving penalties for driving without a license.  If you have questions about the close cousin of VC 12500, which is VC 14601.1 (a) driving with a suspended license, please click on that link to read my blog post on that topic.

VC 12500 is a California traffic ticket issued for driving without a valid license. It is different from VC 14601.1 (a) driving with a suspended license because if convicted under VC 12500 you are only found guilty of not holding a valid California driver’s license, versus KNOWINGLY driving without a valid driver’s license, which is the VC 14601.1 (a) charge.

Because there is no INTENT element under VC 12500, the penalties for driving without a license are much less harsh. For example, if convicted of the 14601.1 (a) charge, you will receive two points on your DMV record, which brings you closer to a negligent operator suspension. If you are convicted of VC 12500, on the other hand, you will receive no points on your record, so you won’t have to worry about going to traffic school.

The bad news is that penalties for driving without a license under VC 12500 may mean you’ll face fines, and a potential misdemeanor conviction on your criminal record. This is because although VC 12500 is routinely considered a “traffic ticket”, it can be charged as either a misdemeanor or an infraction.

How do you know if your VC 12500 traffic ticket will be charged as an infraction or as a misdemeanor? The answer is, unfortunately, you don’t know until you know – there is no way to predict it. If you look at the copy of the citation the officer gave you, there is usually an “I” and “M” next to the code section you were cited with (in this case VC 12500). The officer will usually circle the “I” for infraction or the “M” for a misdemeanor. This may give you a hint about how the ticket will be charged, but it’s not always the end of the story. The reality is that regardless of whether the officer circles “I” for infraction or “M” for misdemeanor, the District Attorney has the final say in how the citation will be charged. It is nearly impossible to predict.

When I fight the VC 12500 traffic ticket for my clients, if it’s charged as a misdemeanor, my goal is to get the charge reduced to an infraction if possible. If not possible, we can evaluate your chances at jury trial, or seek to minimize the repercussions in a plea negotiation. Every case is different and has its unique set of facts. If you’d like to hire me or simply have questions about VC 12500 or any other traffic ticket, please feel free to call me at 310-200-4519, email me at paul.socaldefense@gmail.com, or contact me through my website at http://www.DUIandTrafficAttorney.com.

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