What Should I Do If I Got a Ticket When I Didn’t Have a Driver’s License?

Last week we posted about Colorado’s driver license point system.  If a driver accumulates too many points in too short a period of time, the Department of Motor Vehicle will suspend your driving privilege.  Accumulating too many points is not the only reason DMV may suspend or revoke your driving privilege.

First, it is important to understand the difference between your driving privilege and your driver’s license.  Everyone has a privilege to drive, so even if I have a California driver’s license, I have a privilege to drive in Colorado even though I do not have a Colorado license.  When DMV takes action to prevent you from driving, DMV is placing a hold on your driving privilege.  If DMV places a hold on your privilege to drive, you MUST reinstate your privilege before you may legally drive.  Your privilege will not automatically be reinstated.

Some issues that cause a license cancellation or denial may be remedied and you will become immediately eligible to reinstate your privilege to drive. Other issues cannot be immediately remedied and there is a pre-determined length of suspension or revocation.  Regardless of whether your privilege to drive is cancelled, denied, suspended or revoked for an issue that allows for immediate reinstatement upon resolution of the issue or not, if you get a traffic ticket while your privilege is not valid, you should try to avoid pleading guilty to any infraction that carries a points penalty or is a traffic misdemeanor.  Pleading guilty to any traffic violation that carries a points penalty will likely result in an extension of the hold on your driving privilege.

For example, DMV may place a hold on your driving privilege if you are behind on making child support payments. This type hold can be remedied (i.e. catch up on your child support payments) and you will become immediately eligible to reinstate your privilege to drive.  Let’s say you are pulled over for speeding before you are able to reinstate.  The officer will likely issue you a ticket for speeding and driving under restraint.  You will have to go to court.  If you plead guilty to either of the listed charges, DMV  will place an additional hold your driving privilege that will likely be a year in length.  This means that even if you get caught up on your child support payments before that year expires, you will not be able to reinstate your privilege until you have served the full year.

You may be thinking, DMV has already placed a hold on my driving privilege and the hold is for a specific amount of time (i.e. it cannot be remedied), so it’s not a big deal to plead guilty. Pleading guilty under these circumstances is still a problem.  DMV will extend the existing hold on your privilege, meaning it will be even longer before you will be eligible to reinstate. Additionally, certain types of charges are major traffic offenses and if you accumulate too many major traffic offenses in too short a period of time, you will be deemed an habitual traffic offender by DMV.  If this happens, DMV will place a 5 year hold on your driving privilege.

Sometimes there is not much that can be done to avoid pleading guilty to a charge that may cause additional issues, but it is worth contacting a lawyer to see if there is a possible solution. There are some creative solutions that prosecutors and judges will entertain depending on the circumstances because most believe it is best for people to have a valid license.