Georgia requires every driver to carry a valid driver’s license if they are behind the wheel. If an officer pulls you over and you do not have your license – or even worse, it’s not valid – you face a misdemeanor penalty. And, the consequences can be hefty depending on the situation.
While the penalties might vary slightly, there are only two options for resolving a no license charge in Georgia.
First, you can choose to plead guilty and pay the fine online. But you should know that this would result in an automatic misdemeanor on your record and possibly result in additional consequences, including license suspension.
Alternatively, if you have a “must appear” offense or choose to plead not guilty, you will be required to show up to your court date.
Typically, the government schedules you to appear at the municipal court in the city where the violation occurred. However, you can opt to transfer to a higher court if you want a jury trial. For violations occurring in Cobb County, the state would transfer your case to the Cobb County State Court. In these situations, you won’t receive a court date until the Solicitor General formally accuses your citation.
What If I Miss My Court Date for a Traffic Violation?
If you fail to pay your ticket and skip your court date, the State Court places you in a Failure to Appear (FTA) status. Then, the court issues a bench warrant for your arrest and contacts Georgia Driver Services (or your home state DMV) to suspend your license.
Unless you can prove that a lawful excuse kept you from your court date, resolving an FTA can be costly. In addition to the penalties of your original citation, you could incur additional fines, jail time, and court dates.
What Are the Penalties for Driving Without a License?
If the court convicts you of driving without a license in Georgia, you are facing multiple penalties. While it may vary from court to court, you can expect a minimum fine of $500 and at least two days in the county jail. Plus, if you drove with a suspended license, you will likely incur additional time on the suspension.
Those who have had a prior conviction in the last five years are facing harsher consequences. You may be charged a fine of $1,000 and spend at least ten days in the county jail if you are convicted.
Should I Hire a Traffic Lawyer?
You can resolve a no license citation without the help of a traffic lawyer. However, you could incur unnecessary penalties. You may end up losing your license for six months (in addition to your current suspension), paying more fees, and facing mandatory defensive driving classes.
On the other hand, an experienced Cobb County traffic Lawyer understands the process and knows how to help you get the most favorable outcome. For example, they may be able to get charges reduced or help you get a restricted license for traveling to work in the event of a suspension.
Schedule a free consult to find out how attorney Erin Gerstenzang can help you fight a no license charge at Cobb County State Court.