WHAT IS DRIVING WHILE LICENSE INVALID IN TEXAS?
The Texas law against driving while license invalid, or “DWLI,” prohibits operating a motor vehicle without a license, or with a license that has been canceled, suspended, revoked, or denied after renewal.
WHAT IS THE DRIVING WHILE LICENSE INVALID LAW IN TEXAS?
Tex. Transp. Code § 521.457. DRIVING WHILE LICENSE INVALID.
(a) A person commits an offense if the person operates a motor vehicle on a highway:
(1) after the person’s driver’s license has been canceled under this chapter if the person does not have a license that was subsequently issued under this chapter;
(2) during a period that the person’s driver’s license or privilege is suspended or revoked under any law of this state;
(3) while the person’s driver’s license is expired if the license expired during a period of suspension; or
(4) after renewal of the person’s driver’s license has been denied under any law of this state, if the person does not have a driver’s license subsequently issued under this chapter.
(b) A person commits an offense if the person is the subject of an order issued under any law of this state that prohibits the person from obtaining a driver’s license and the person operates a motor vehicle on a highway.
(c) It is not a defense to prosecution under this section that the person did not receive actual notice of a suspension imposed as a result of a conviction for an offense under Section 521.341.
(d) Except as provided by Subsection (c), it is an affirmative defense to prosecution of an offense, other than an offense under Section 521.341, that the person did not receive actual notice of a cancellation, suspension, revocation, or prohibition order relating to the person’s license. For purposes of this section, actual notice is presumed if the notice was sent in accordance with law.
(e) Except as provided by Subsections (f), (f-1), and (f-2), an offense under this section is a Class C misdemeanor.
(f) An offense under this section is a Class B misdemeanor if it is shown on the trial of the offense that the person:
(1) has previously been convicted of an offense under this section or an offense under Section 601.371(a), as that law existed before September 1, 2003; or
(2) at the time of the offense, was operating the motor vehicle in violation of Section 601.191.
(f-1) If it is shown on the trial of an offense under this section that the license of the person has previously been suspended as the result of an offense involving the operation of a motor vehicle while intoxicated, the offense is a Class B misdemeanor.
(f-2) An offense under this section is a Class A misdemeanor if it is shown on the trial of the offense that at the time of the offense the person was operating the motor vehicle in violation of Section 601.191 and caused or was at fault in a motor vehicle accident that resulted in serious bodily injury to or the death of another person.
(g) For purposes of this section, a conviction for an offense that involves operation of a motor vehicle after August 31, 1987, is a final conviction, regardless of whether the sentence for the conviction is probated.
WHAT IS THE PENALTY CLASS FOR DRIVING WHILE LICENSE INVALID IN TEXAS?
Driving while license invalid is typically a Class C misdemeanor, punishable by a maximum $500 fine. If the person is driving without a license and valid insurance, or has a previous conviction for DWLI, it is a Class B misdemeanor, punishable by up to 180 days in county jail. DWLI is a Class A misdemeanor if the person was operating a motor vehicle without a license and insurance, and caused an accident in which another suffered serious bodily injury or death.
WHAT IS THE PUNISHMENT RANGE FOR DRIVING WHILE LICENSE INVALID IN TEXAS?
The punishment range for DWLI depends on the person’s conduct and prior convictions, if any:
- Class C misdemeanor (first offense):
- maximum $500 fine, no jail time;
- Class B misdemeanor (previous conviction, or driving without insurance):
- up to 180 days in jail, maximum $2,000 fine;
- Class A misdemeanor (driving without insurance, and causes an accident resulting in serious bodily injury or death):
- up to one year in jail, maximum $4,000 fine.
WHAT ARE THE PENALTIES FOR DRIVING WHILE LICENSE INVALID IN TEXAS?
A person charged with driving while license invalid as a Class C misdemeanor is eligible for deferred adjudication for a period not to exceed 180 days. If charged with a Class A or Class B misdemeanor, the community supervision period may not exceed two years.
WHAT ARE THE DEFENSES TO DRIVING WHILE LICENSE INVALID IN TEXAS?
The statute does not authorize specific defenses to driving while license invalid. A person accused of DWLI may attempt to negate at least one of the elements the State must prove at trial.
- Can a person be convicted of DWLI without notice of a license suspension? Driving in Texas is a privilege, not a right. A person is presumed to have received notice of a driver’s license suspension, so it is no defense that a person did not actually receive notice. However, the State must show the date on which the suspension became effective, which requires proof of when the notice of suspension was mailed.
WHAT IS THE STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS FOR DRIVING WHILE LICENSE INVALID IN TEXAS?
The limitation period for driving while license invalid is two years.
DRIVING WHILE LICENSE INVALID IN TEXAS
Texas law requires a person operating a motor vehicle to do so with a valid license. Being pulled over without a license will likely result in the person’s arrest, and the car being towed and impounded.
TEXAS DRIVING WHILE LICENSE INVALID COURT CASES
The case law regarding driving while license invalid in Texas illustrates the methods of proving license suspensions.
- In Barker v. State, the defendant was convicted of DWLI with a prior conviction, a Class B misdemeanor. He argued on appeal that the State failed to show his license was invalid at the time of the offense. The appellate court disagreed, holding the State can prove a license suspension in several ways. Here, the defendant’s license was revoked under Texas Transportation Code Chapter 521, Subchapter O, which took effect 30 days after notice of revocation was mailed to him. The State presented evidence of mailing the statutory notice, which was sufficient proof of revocation.