Every state within the United States controls driving privileges by requiring anyone operating a motor vehicle to have a valid driver’s license.

Further, drivers are required to abide by laws and restrictions when driving.

Should a motor vehicle operator break the law one too many times, they may have their driving privileges revoked.

This means they no longer have a valid driver’s license and cannot lawfully operate a car. Each state has its own particular requirements and penalties.

If you were caught driving without a valid operator’s license in Ohio, there are a few different charges you could face depending on the specific circumstances.

The penalties can range from minor fines to license suspension and even incarceration.

Reach out online or call (937) 222-1515 to get in touch with our experienced Ohio defense attorneys at Gounaris Abboud, LPA. We can discuss your case and defense during a free consultation.

Ohio Law

In Ohio, no person is allowed to operate any motor vehicle on a public road or highway or any public or private property used by the public for purposes of vehicular travel or parking unless the person has a valid driver’s license. 

Is it Illegal to Drive Without Your License on You?

Even if you have a valid license, it is still against the law to drive without having your license in your possession.

So you might be wondering, What happens if you get pulled over without your license on you?

Drivers are required to have their license on them anytime they are operating a motor vehicle.

If the police catch you driving without your license on you, but you have a valid driver’s license, this is still a violation of Ohio law. 

Specifically, you may be issued a ticket for driving without proof of license in Ohio. If found guilty, you could face up to six months in jail and up to $1,000 in fines.

Expired Drivers’ License

If you are convicted of driving without a valid driver’s license in Ohio because your license is expired, you will be charged with a minor misdemeanor and face a fine of $150.

No Operator’s License: Ohio Fine and Penalties

We are often asked, What happens if you get caught driving without a license but with a permit in Ohio?

A learner’s permit is not a driver’s license and does not allow operators to drive carte blanche. There are restrictions during the learning and provisional process that must be followed.

Drivers with a temporary instruction permit under the age of 16 must have a parent, guardian, or licensed driving instructor in the passenger seat while driving.

If the learner is 16 or older, they are bound by this restriction only between the hours of midnight and 6:00 a.m.

Otherwise, they must be accompanied by a driver over the age of 21. In both scenarios, the supervising driver cannot be intoxicated.

If you violate these provisions, it could result in an extended probationary period.


It may not be the crime of the century, but driving without a license can result in significant consequences.

Two of the most common penalties are fines and further license revocation or suspension. Can you go to jail for driving without a license in Ohio?

Depending on the specific offense and your prior driving record, you can potentially face jail time for driving without a license.

First Offense

Generally, a first offense for driving without a license in Ohio will result in only fines and fees.

You may also be sentenced to a community residential sanction, otherwise known as community service.

If you are convicted of driving without a valid driver’s license and have never been licensed, your charge would be an unclassified misdemeanor.

In addition to a fine of up to $1,000, you could be ordered to complete up to 500 community service hours.

Second or Subsequent Offense

If you are convicted for second or subsequent driving without a valid driver’s license offense, your charge would be a first-degree misdemeanor.

The punishment now increases to up to six months in jail and up to $1,000 in fines.

Three-Year Rule

The court may impose a license suspension of up to one year if, within three years of the current offense:

  • The offender previously was convicted of or pleaded guilty to one or more violations of this section, and 
  • The offender’s license has expired for more than six months at the time of the offense. 

Under such circumstances, you’d be wise to consult an attorney.

Help Is Here

At Gounaris Abboud, LPA, we have more than 50 years of collective experience in criminal defense and motor vehicle violations.

Driving without a license in Ohio can have serious consequences and even negatively impact your ability to earn a living.

We understand things happen at all hours of the day, not just during business hours. At Gounaris Abboud, LPA, we are always available 24/7 to take your call.

Contact us online or call (937) 222-1515 to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with one of our skilled attorneys.

Author Photo

Antony “Tony” Abboud

Antony “Tony” Abboud is a partner and one of the proud founders of Gounaris Abboud, LPA. Mr. Abboud is a long-time resident of the Miami Valley. In 2011, Mr. Abboud was included in the list of Super Lawyers® Rising Stars℠. Mr. Abboud has since been voted to the Super Lawyers® Rising Stars℠ list consecutively in 2012, 2013 and 2014. In 2012, Mr. Abboud was given a 10.0 “Superb” rating by Avvo, which is an attorney rating website recognized around the nation. Upon receiving a scholarship to the University Of Dayton School Of Law, he completed his Juris Doctor and commenced a successful law career as one of the Miami Valley’s premier and criminal defense attorneys.

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