Riding a Motorcycle in California Without a California License
It is illegal in California to drive a motorcycle, or any motor-driven or motorized cycle, unless you have a valid driver’s license to do so. Cal Veh Code § 12500. A driver’s license does not, however, need to be issued in California for it to be valid. Cal Veh Code § 12502. Nonresidents of California are permitted to drive in California as long as they are over the age of 18, and have, in their possession, a valid driver’s license from the jurisdiction in which they reside. Id. If the jurisdiction in which the individual resides does not require driver’s licenses, then the individual is permitted to drive in California without a driver’s license, but not to exceed 30 days. Cal Veh Code § 12503.
What Does “State of Domicile” Mean?
An individual’s place of residence is determined by their “state of domicile,” which is “the state where a person has his or her true, fixed, and permanent home and principal residence and to which he or she has manifested the intention of returning whenever he or she is absent.” Cal Veh Code § 12505. This means that an individual is domiciled in the state in which they intend to live for an indefinite amount of time. If the individual came to California from Nevada with the intent to stay for a month and then return back to their home in Nevada, then their domicile, and residency, is in Nevada. Courts will typically look at evidence such as: where an individual is registered to vote; where an individual pays taxes; and whether the individual pays resident tuition at a university in order to establish an individual’s state of residency. Id.
What is Vehicle Code §12500 et seq.?
Under Vehicle Code 12500(a) VC, A person may not drive a motor vehicle upon a highway, unless the person then holds a valid driver’s license issued under this code, except those persons who are expressly exempted under this code.
What Are the Penalties for VC 12500 Violation?
VC 12500(a) driving without a valid license can be charged as either a California infraction or a California misdemeanor.
What Are The Penalties for Driving Without a License?
The misdemeanor penalties for driving without a license can include:
- Up to six (6) months in county jail and/or
- A fine of up to one thousand dollars ($1,000)
What Does the Court Need to Prove Under VC 12500?
In order for the court to prove that you are guilty of driving without a valid license, they must establish to elements:
- You drove on a street or highway, and
- At the time you drove, you did not hold a validly issued driver’s license.
If you have been charged with VC 12500, a Los Angeles defense attorney can help either dismiss or reduce your VC 12500 charges to a less-serious infraction. Give us a call; our attorneys speak English, French, Spanish, Russian, and Armenian.
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