What happens if you end up driving without your license on you in New York State? This has happened to me many times, I've left the house and forgotten my wallet, which is where my driver's license is. Let's be honest, most of us have driven a time or two without our valid driver's license physically with us. But, is it illegal, even if it's an honest mistake?

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Can You Be Arrested For Driving Without Your License With You In New York State?

In order to legally operate a motor vehicle in New York State, you must be at least 16 years old, have a valid New York State driver's license or permit, or have a valid driver's license or permit issued by another state or country.

If you meet all of those criteria, but just forget or misplace your license, what will happen to you if you get caught driving in New York without it?

Utah Tests Mobile Drivers License Pilot Program
SALT LAKE, UT - AUGUST 04: A person scans a QR code on an Apple Watch to temporarily send their digital driver's license to another mobile phone at a Harmons Grocery store on August 4, 2021 in Salt Lake City, Utah. Utah is the first state in the nation to start to convert and offer digital driver licenses on mobile devices. (Photo by George Frey/Getty Images)

According to DrivingLaws.org, you can be arrested for driving without having your license in your possession,

A driver who was licensed but did not have the license in his or her immediate possession can be arrested for driving without a license. However, the person cannot be convicted of a crime if the driver was properly licensed.

If you drive a vehicle without having a license in New York State and get caught, you could pay a monetary fine of between $75 and $300. You could also spend up to 15 days in jail. If you do have a valid license, but don't have it in your possession when you get pulled over, the police officer could charge you for driving without a license. However, there is a bit of good news. According to New York Motorist Insurance,

The penalties for driving without a license vary depending on the severity of the incident. If you are pulled over and don’t have your license with you, but you do have a valid license at home, you can get the charges dropped. You will just need to produce the license in court to have your penalties removed.

The unfortunate part is that you may have to go through all of the motions of getting caught without a valid license, like being ticketed, arrested, etc. Then you will need to show up in court to prove that you do indeed have a valid license.

It seems like the best option is to always have your license on you. It would be great if New York State had a program like the one Utah was testing (see pic above) to have some sort of mobile access to your driver's license.

***This article is not intended to provide any legal advice or counsel

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