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Attorney Van O'Steen

Car Accidents Can't Be Blamed on Driving Without a Valid License

Van O'Steen

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Driving without a valid driver's license is against the law.   Those who are caught doing it will be issued a citation.  Everyone knows this.

You may be surprised to learn, however, that driving without a license has no bearing on responsibility for a car accident.  Arizona courts have ruled that a person’s failure to obtain a driver's license is no evidence that the person was not a safe driver.

Your failure to obtain a driver’s license does not make you automatically negligent or at fault for a car accident. You must be shown to be careless or reckless before you can be held responsible for an accident. The mere fact that you were driving without valid license is not evidence of carelessness or recklessness.

It is common at an accident scene for one driver to be given a citation for driving without a license and the other driver to be given a citation for the traffic offense that caused the accident.

An unlicensed driver still can recover for damages and injuries from the driver at fault or his insurance company. In other words, your rights are not lost for driving without a license.

There are, of course, penalties for driving without a valid driver's license, whether or not you are involved in an accident.

Often, a citation for this offense will be dismissed or treated lightly if you obtain your driver's license before your court date for the ticket. When you go to traffic court, take your license with you and show it to the judge.

This leniency does not apply if you are caught driving on a suspended or revoked license. You are not eligible for a new driver's license, and the offense is far more serious.

Do yourself a favor. Take your license out of your wallet and check the expiration date; you may be surprised to see it was six months ago.