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Can Unlicensed Drivers File a Claim for Damages After a Crash?

Posted on behalf of Peter T. Nicholl in Car Accidents Apr 06, 2022

police officer talking to scared driverSometimes people forget to renew their driver’s licenses. They may have planned to do it after receiving a renewal notice in the mail, but they set that piece of mail down somewhere and completely forget about it and the fact they need to renew their license. 

However, even if forgetting to renew your license was an honest mistake, it is against the law. If the police cite you for driving with an expired license you could face fines of up to $500 and possibly 60 days in jail.

Another consideration that is even more important is how an expired license could affect your ability to seek compensation.

Below, our experienced Maryland vehicle accident attorneys discuss how an expired driver’s license might affect a claim for compensation. We also discuss how not having a license or having a license that was suspended, revoked or canceled may affect a claim for compensation.

If you have questions after a Maryland car crash, give us a call to schedule your free legal consultation. We have helped many crash victims recover compensation for medical expenses and other damages.

Defining an Unlicensed Driver

The simple definition of an unlicensed driver is one who does not have a license. However, there are other scenarios when you might refer to someone as an unlicensed driver. For example, maybe the driver in question has a license, it is just not in the car with him or her. Maybe the driver left it at home.

You could also refer to a driver with an expired license as an unlicensed driver. Drivers whose licenses were suspended, revoked or canceled could also be called unlicensed drivers.

It is important to distinguish between these different scenarios as they come with different penalties. They could also affect your ability to file an insurance claim in different ways.

Your License is Not in Your Possession

In this scenario, you would simply need to present your license or other proof that you have a valid license when you are instructed to appear in court. If you do not provide this information, you could face a fine and possible jail time.

Your claim against the at-fault driver should not be affected by you not presenting a valid license to the police at the scene of the crash. The insurance company may try to convince you otherwise, but your license has nothing to do with the other driver acting recklessly.

If you need to file an uninsured motorist claim against your own insurance policy, not presenting a license at the scene of the crash should not affect your claim. Assuming you have a valid license, and you had a valid license at the time you bought or renewed your policy, you should still be able to file a claim against your own policy.  

Your License is Expired

Maryland driver’s licenses need to be renewed every five to eight years. You can renew your license online, by mail or in person. However, if the license has been expired a minimum of one year, you will need to pass a vision screening, knowledge test and driving skills road test to renew your license. You will also have to pay the new resident driver’s license fee.

Typically, insurance policies are not voided if the policyholder’s license expires, assuming the license was not expired when the policy was purchased or renewed. However, it all depends on the terms of the insurance policy.

If you are being told your insurance policy is void, you should research it or have your attorney do so. It is often a bad idea to simply trust what an insurance company tells you.

It is important to renew your license as quickly as possible. Failing to do that could cause the insurance company to fight to deny your claim.

However, the status of your driver’s license is unlikely to affect a third-party claim against the at-fault driver’s insurance policy.

You Do Not Have a License

You will not be able to purchase insurance if you lack a driver’s license. That means you need to see if you can file a claim against the other driver’s liability insurance. 

If you do not own the vehicle you were driving, it is unlikely you would be able to file a claim against the owner's insurance policy. Even if you had permission to drive, not having a license may bar you from seeking compensation from the vehicle owner's policy. 

It is important to note the penalty for driving without a license is a $500 fine and possibly 60 days in jail for the first offense. The penalty for the second offense is up to 12 months in jail and another $500 fine. The penalties increase for each subsequent offense.

Filing a claim for compensation after a car crash may be the least of your concerns, as there are severe legal consequences for driving without a license.

Your License was Suspended, Revoked or Canceled

A suspended or revoked license is different from an expired license. Drivers with suspended or revoked licenses did something to cause that to happen. For example, they may have been arrested for drunk driving or underage drinking and driving.

If your license was suspended or revoked, it may affect your insurance policy. A suspension or revocation of your license could result in the policy becoming void. That means you would not be able to use it to recover compensation from your insurance policy for the damages you suffered.

In Maryland, driving with a suspended or revoked license carries severe penalties. If your license was suspended for failing to appear in court or failure to pay a fine after being found guilty or admitting guilt for a criminal or traffic offense, you could face a $500 fine and up to 60 days in jail. A jail sentence is unlikely for a first offense but could happen to a repeat offender.

Driving on a suspended license is punishable by as much as one year in jail and a $1,000 fine, if your license was suspended for:

  • Excessive points
  • Failing to pay child support
  • Failing to attend a driver improvement program

If your license was revoked, you could be sent to jail for 12 months, be fined $1,000 and get 12 points added to your driving record.  

Whenever you have questions about legal options following a car crash, it is important to contact an experienced attorney.

Need Legal Help After a Crash? Call Peter T. Nicholl Law Offices

Handling a car insurance claim on your own is a lot to ask. Car crashes and the injuries that result can turn victims’ lives upside down. You have so many other things to deal with besides negotiating with your insurance company.

That is why you should consider working with an attorney. At Peter T. Nicholl Law Offices, we have a proven record of success in negotiating with car insurance companies for victims. We have obtained millions on behalf of our clients and there are no upfront fees for our services.

No fees. No risks. Call 410-244-7005 today. 

Contact our personal injury lawyers for a free consultation if you have been injured by another’s negligence. You may be entitled to compensation.

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