Texas Transportation Code Chapter 521 creates rules for driver licensing in the State of Texas.
Common offenses include:
- No Driver’s License – § 521.021
- Failure to Display a Texas Driver’s License – 521.025(a)
- Driving While License Invalid (DWLI) – § 521.457
- Expired License – Texas Transportation Code – § 521.056
- Failure to Report a Change of Address or Name Change – § 521.054(a)-(b)
- Driving in Violation of License Restrictions – § 521.221(c)
Violation of one of the Texas driver’s license laws may result in a criminal charge, fines and other penalties.
No Driver’s License – Texas Transportation Code § 521.021
What is the Texas law for no license?
Texas Transportation Code § 521.021 prohibits driving on a public road without a driver’s license.
Penalties for operating without a driver’s license in Texas
Possible penalties for a violation of § 521.021, driving without a license, are:
- First conviction – misdemeanor – fine of up to $200
- Second conviction within one year – misdemeanor – fine of $25-$200
- Third or subsequent conviction within one year – misdemeanor – fine of $25-$500, from 72 hours to six months in jail
In addition, if an accident occurs, and the offender is at fault, there is bodily injury, and the offender does not have required car insurance, the offense is a Class A misdemeanor.
Do you need a driver’s license in Texas?
Yes, you need a driver’s license in Texas. The state grants authorization to drive through a licensing process. The state may recognize a nonresident’s operating privilege. (§ 521.001(6).)
How much is a ticket for no license in Texas?
For a first offense, a ticket for no license in Texas is up to $200. For a second offense, the minimum fine is $25 and the maximum is $200. For a third offense, the fine increases to $500. The fines are in addition to penalties for any other offenses that are concurrent to the no license ticket.
What defenses are there for no driver’s license in Texas?
Defenses for no driver’s license in Texas are that the defendant had a valid license or that a valid license was not required. Texas law § 521.027 creates exemptions for:
- Military personnel in service
- Farm tractors and farm equipment, unless they are commercial motor vehicles
- Nonresident military personnel on active duty with a valid license from another state
- The spouse or dependent of active military with a valid license from another state
How soon do you have to get a license when you move to Texas?
You have 90 days to get a driver’s license when you move to Texas. If a person uses the grace period as a defense to a no license charge, they must show by a preponderance of the evidence that they have not lived in the state for more than 90 days. (521.029)
Failure to Display a Texas Driver’s License – Texas Transportation Code § 521.025(a)
What is the Texas law for failing to display a driver’s license?
Texas Transportation Code § 521.025 requires a driver to have their license in their possession while driving and display it when asked by a police officer. Failing to have an operator’s license on person is a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $200 with enhanced penalties for subsequent convictions.
A person who fails to display a driver’s license at the time of the traffic stop may remedy the charge by showing proof of a valid license to the court. They must show proof before their first court date and pay an administrative fee.
Driving While License Invalid (DWLI) – Texas Transportation Code § 521.457
What is Driving While License Invalid in Texas?
A person is guilty of driving while license invalid in Texas if they drive while their license is:
- Renewal has been denied
- A court order or law prohibits the person from having a valid license
Penalties for DWLI / DWLS
- Class C misdemeanor – A fine of up to $500, no jail ( 521.457(e))
- Class B misdemeanor – A fine of up to $2,000, up to six months jail ( 521.457(f))
- If the driver does not have insurance
- If the original conviction is for drunk driving
- Second offenses
- Class A misdemeanor – A fine of up to $4,000, up to one year in jail ( 521.457(f-2))
- If a crash occurs causing a serious injury and the driver does not have insurance
Penalties can be found in § 521.457(e).
Can you check to see if your license is suspended in Texas?
You can check to see if your license is suspended, pay fees and understand license eligibility status at the Texas Department of Public Safety License Eligibility website.
Is it a defense if you didn’t know your license was suspended?
It is not a defense to DWLI that you didn’t know your license was invalid, if the suspension is automatic under Texas Transportation Code § 521.341. It is a defense for other grounds for suspension that the person did not receive actual notice of the suspension. The law presumes notice is received if the state sends the notice as they’re required. §521.457(c)(d).
When allowed, not receiving notice of the suspension is an affirmative defense. It is up to the defendant to raise the lack of notice issue.
How do you reinstate your driver’s license?
It’s tempting to get behind the wheel as soon as the period of license suspension expires. However, in Texas, your license isn’t automatically reinstated when your suspension is over. You must pay a reinstatement fee. Processing can take up to two days.
Expired License – Texas Transportation Code § 521.056
What is the law for expired license in Texas?
Texas law § 521.026 prohibits operating on a roadway with an expired license.
Can you remedy an expired license charge in Texas?
Texas law § 521.026 allows the court to dismiss an expired license charge if the defendant renews their license within 20 working days or before the first court date. The court may charge a reimbursement fee of $20 when the charge is dismissed.
What is the penalty for driving with an expired license in Texas?
The penalty for driving on an expired license is a fine not to exceed $200.
(See § 521.025, § 521.461)
Can you drive with an expired license in Texas?
No, you cannot drive with an expired license in Texas.
How does license renewal work in Texas?
In Texas, you may renew your license online or in person. You must pay any outstanding reinstatement fees before renewing your license. Drivers 79 and older must renew their license in person. The Texas Department of Public Safety Driver License Division FAQs page provides information for license renewal, address changes, Real ID and answers to other questions.
Failure to Report a Change of Address or Name Change – Texas Transportation Code § 521.054(a)-(b)
Texas law requires drivers to keep their address updated with the Texas Department of Public Safety. A driver has 30 days after moving to report the change of address. (Texas Transportation Code § 521.054(a)-(b).)
A driver must also notify TXDPS if they have a legal name change.
The court can dismiss a ticket if the defendant submits the address change within 20 days of the offense. The defendant must pay a $20 fee, unless the court waives the fee.
Driving in Violation of License Restrictions – Texas Transportation Code § 521.221(c)
The state may impose restrictions on a person’s driver’s license. The person may operate legally as long as they stay within the restrictions. Examples of restrictions include wearing glasses or contacts, daytime driving only, speed restrictions, destination limitations (work/school) and supervision by a licensed driver 21 years or older. It is a violation of Texas law § 521.221(c) to operate in violation of a restriction.
If charged with violation of a restriction, the defendant may provide proof that the restriction was removed. The defendant must provide proof before the first court appearance. They must pay a nominal fee.
What can I do if I’m charged with a license violation in the State of Texas?
If you’re charged with a license violation in the State of Texas, be sure to contact an attorney quickly because some offenses must be remedied before the first court date. An attorney can guide you through the process of taking care of things to have the charges dismissed or lessen the possible penalties. Do not ignore a license charge. You may face further suspension of your license, additional fees, enhanced penalties and even a warrant for your arrest.
Driver’s license offenses are serious. Problems can compound and become even harder to rectify. With an experienced legal team, you have guidance to get back on track, address any charges directly and minimize potential consequences. An experienced legal team can assist you with understanding the charges and what you need to do next. They can take your case to trial or work to have the charges dismissed. If you face a license charge along with other charges, they can help you look at the entire situation and respond in the best possible way.
Attorneys for Driver’s License Charges in Texas
Are you charged with no license, an invalid license or another license charge? Contact our lawyers today for a case review. You deserve experienced, aggressive legal representation at an affordable cost. Our team is here to help. Don’t wait to contact us to begin working on your case.