Driving Without a Licence

Although driving without a licence is a serious offence, it’s not as serious as many might think. Driving without a licence penalty can be 3 to 6 penalty points endorsements and up to £1000 fine.

The amount of fine and penalty points depends on your circumstances (whether you had some form of sufficient reason for driving without a licence) and how harsh the judge is.

Since various parts of The Road safety Act 2006 were enacted in 2009, to facilitate graduated fixed penalties and roadside deposits, there has been a facility for the DVLA to create a record if a person does not have a licence.  For example a foreign driver could accumulate points even though he/she does not have a UK licence.

If you have had your driving licence revoked and are serving a driving ban, getting caught in these circumstances is taken much more seriously as you are directly ignoring a court order.

A typical example of an individual driving without a licence is if an individual has not passed the practical driving test and are driving without the entitlement to do so. Certain versions of this offence carry no penalty points at all and if so, are likely to lead to an increased fine.

UK Driving Licence
Please note: This image of a UK driving licence is purely an example and whilst the image visually represents an accurate UK driving licence, all information contained is fictional and will not corroborate with any drivers licence held by the DVLA or any other organisation.

If driving unsupervised on a provisional driving licence however, 3 to 6 penalty points will be added to your licence up to a maximum of 6 permitted. Equally, driving with the incorrect licence type for example a driver who has a fully category B driving licence is driving a vehicle between the weight of 3.5 tonnes and 7.5 tonnes must hold a category C1 licence.

Driving without a licence penalty

Other than the 3 to 6 points and a fine of up to £1000, the police may also state that your car insurance is invalid if you have any. This however is not necessarily true and is not the decision of the police or judge to make. Your car insurance company is likely to invalidate your car insurance if you do not have a valid licence to drive the vehicle it is insured for, although it is possible the insurance policy may remain valid, especially if they are spoken to by a solicitor.

If your car insurance is in fact deemed invalid, this will result in an extra 6 to 8 penalty points placed on your licence (on top of the 3 to 6 for driving without a licence) plus an increased fine.

Getting caught driving without a licence

The chances of getting caught driving without a licence depends on the area you drive in and the legality of the vehicle you are driving. Police cars are mostly fitted with automatic number plate recognition ANPR) systems which tell if a vehicle is insured, taxed and if it holds a current MOT (if older than 3 years of age). If your vehicle does not meet these legal requirements to be driven on public roads, the chances of being stopped by the police is high, especially in a city area.

Many static cameras are also fitted with number plate recognition that ultimately relay information to the police. Many of these ANPR cameras are located on motorways, main roads and city centres.

Consequences of driving without a licence

Of course there is the penalty points and the fine, which is the minimum to get away with if lucky. Problems really begin to arise if you’re involved in an accident, especially if it is the driver with no licence or valid licence. Even if you have insurance for your car, it is highly likely the insurance will be invalid due to a lack of a drivers licence.

The owner of the damaged vehicle in most cases will pursue this through the court where the unlicensed driver will be ordered to pay repair costs, solicitors and court costs. If the innocent driver or any passengers were injured, the potential costs can be huge.

Driving without a licence code

Driving without a licence or the correct term used by the police ‘ Driving otherwise than in accordance with a licence’ is offence code LC20.

Information related to driving offences

22 thoughts on “Driving Without a Licence”

  1. Ron Martyn

    Other than an accident how would the dvla know you dont have a license

  2. Hi Ron,
    If your car insurance or tax doesn’t check with an ANPR camera you could get pulled by the police – but that’s vehicle dependent and not driver. If you’re caught speeding, it’ll likely make it’s way back to you. Cameras are getting increasingly smarter where some can now take high res photos of the driver, even to the extent where trials are being used for AI to detect illegal phone use. So mainly camera based (related to other issues) that might catch you out or being randomly stopped by the police.

  3. niki


    What happens if you get caught by the police if you have no driving license and not insured prior to your practical driving test. Can you still take the driving practical test ?

  4. Hi Niki,
    If you get caught driving without a licence and with no car insurance and you haven’t passed the driving test as of yet, you’ll likely have sufficient penalty points to receive a driving ban. You would have to apply for your licence when the ban expires. Technically if you have a provisional, you have a test booked and have committed the driving offences prior to taking the test, you could still take the practical test. You would then have to stop driving once you receive the driving ban.

  5. Diane Davis

    I know someone who has had his license taken away but now got someone else to insure him to ride a motorcycle instead is this still illegal

  6. Hello Dianne. Yes it is illegal. If the individual has had their licence revoked, it means they’re not permitted to drive or ride any motor vehicle on public roads.

  7. Cain

    Hello I got pulled for driving a car it wasn’t my car it was my uncles all insured and taxed I’ve got a provisional and he was in the car with me while driving but then got out and went too his house quick I drove around the block and got stopped I did not know I wasn’t allowed too still drive if he wants in the car I’m literally ready too pass my test am I in big trouble? Thank you

  8. Hi Cain.
    Are you in big trouble? Your driving licence might be, yes. Driving without a full licence comes with 3 to 6 penalty points and a fine of up to £1000. The problem is not your provisional licence; you can have up to 12 points on that, but as soon as you pass the test, you’ll have a full licence. Once you get your full licence, you’ll have a 2 year probationary period where you’ll only be entitled to a maximum of 6 penalty points.

    If you get handed 6 points, that’s your licence gone until they expire. You may get 3 points and a higher fine. If it goes to court, don’t tell the judge that you didn’t know you weren’t allowed to drive without a qualified supervising passenger – they wont buy it. Rather, tell them you acted stupidly and it’ll never happen again.

  9. Paul Enticknap

    Are you aware of the shambles that is going on at the Dvla at the moment ? Nobody can get a license , do you have any advice ?

  10. Hello Paul,
    Yes, I’m aware. It’s chaos. There’s clearly a high level of mismanagement at the DVLA offices.

  11. Funke ade

    My car was parked in a car parked just round the corner and police came and take my car because my neighbour reported to them that am driving without full licence which is true. For the first time ever, I drove the car to the hospital due to my partner being admitted critically in the hospital. The police took the car and told me to pick with up by my partner being the owner of the car. My name is on the car insurance too. They said the Court will get in touch 6months time. I just have 1 week for my driving test. What will happen next please

  12. Hello Funke,

    You can still learn to drive (legally of course) and take your driving test just as planned. For driving unaccompanied by a supervising passenger, you’ll likely receive penalty points and a fine. Upon sentencing, you’ll need to declare this to the insurance provider. If at this time you still have your provisional driving licence, any points (a maximum of 11) will be transferred to your full licence. Though generally you will lose a full licence if you receive 6 or more penalty points within the first 2 years of passing your test, you’ll still be able to continue driving even if 6 or more points are transferred over. If you receive any more points however, your licence will be revoked.

    If you pass the test before your court date and attend with a full licence, ‘driving otherwise than in accordance with a licence’ is 3 to 6 penalty points. Because the offence occurred as a provisional licence holder, it doesn’t mean that you’ll lose your licence even if you get issued 6 penalty points. But again, as with the penalty points being transferred from the provisional, if you receive any more points within the first 2 years, your licence will be revoked.

  13. ian

    I bought a car today which i should collect on tuesday a few hundred miles away. I’ve just been organizing my things and seen that my license finished today! I’ve quickly applied for the replacement but i see that it might take 2 weeks to arrive. I really want this car but can i drive it home before my new license arrives? cheeers

  14. Hi Ian,
    Generally you can yes, but of course you need to look into the details of your own situation. Section 88 of The Road Traffic Act 1988 states that you can continue driving if you have applied to the DVLA to renew your driving licence and your current licence has expired while the DVLA is processing your application. This is based on the following criteria:
    1. A doctor has told you that you’re fit to drive.
    2. You meet any conditions that were specified on your previous driving licence and that still apply.
    3. Your licence renewal application was sent to the DVLA within the last 12 months.
    4. A course has not disqualified you from driving.

  15. Michael


    I have recently had my license revoked for reasons I am challenging. It is taxed and insured will the cameras see that I have no license or will it just see that it it taxed and insured ?

  16. Hi Michael,
    No, ANPR cameras cannot see if the driver has a licence as the camera does not know who’s driving.

  17. stefhine

    Can ANPR see that I have a learner’s insurance on my car

  18. Hi Stefhine,
    Yes, it’ll generally show the type of insurance and who’s insured to drive it.

  19. Mark


    I fled a scene of a minor accident that was my fault after pulling out on a roundabout, I have been banned several times now and still banned too…the car was insured and tax but wasn’t mine, the persons car it was got a letter in post about the accident and want the named driver who was driving the vehicle at the time, what will the punishment be do you think after I send the letter back with my details on as the driver at the time of the offence?

  20. Hi Mark,
    I really wouldn’t like to say. Obviously your historical offences will be taken into consideration along with the reason of why you were behind the wheel again most recently. In other words, was it exceptional circumstances that were due to you driving while disqualified. If it wasn’t and taking into account that being disqualified is in itself not preventing you from driving and the fact that you were the cause of a (minor) accident, the court will look to other measures into preventing you from driving.

    The options could be location / curfew electronic tags, community service and fines. Depending on your history off driving offences, a suspended prison sentence may be imposed. This could be for the duration of your ban. So you wouldn’t have to go to prison provided that you complied with the requirements outlined by the court. If you were caught driving during this time, it would result in being sent to prison.

    Ultimately, if the court is running out of options and historically you’ve not adhered to previous court orders, an actual custodial sentence may be imposed. A custodial sentence for driving whilst disqualified would usually start from 6 months.

    So it’s about the historical offences, along with the severity of the current offence and what options remain in place for the court to take.

  21. Scarlett James

    What if you’re license is revoked because you couldn’t make the deadline for a medical review,due to the fact that every doctor who could do the medical,was off sick or on holiday, how long will your license get revoked for

  22. Hi Scarlett,
    You can reapply for your driving licence once your doctor says that you meet the medical standards for driving. You may need to send evidence of your fitness to drive. The letter from DVLA will tell you if this is the case. If the DVLA sent you a letter, it might of said about a period of time you’ll have to wait before you can reapply. If not, you can reapply once you have the letter from your doctor.

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