North Carolina statute 20-7 states that to drive a motor vehicle on a highway, a person must be licensed by the Division of Motor Vehicles to drive the vehicle and must carry the license while driving the vehicle.
NC Statute 20‑35 discusses the penalties for violating the law and driving without a license. Here it states that this offense is a violation of this Article of law and is a Class 2 misdemeanor. A Class 2 misdemeanor in North Carolina usually comes with a fine and/or jail time. This is the penalty for this offense.
The statute goes on to say that a person may not be convicted of failing to carry a regular drivers license if, when tried for that offense, the person produces in court a regular drivers license issued to the person that was valid when the person was charged with the offense.
A person may not be convicted of driving a motor vehicle without a regular drivers license if, when tried for that offense, the person shows all the following:
- That, at the time of the offense, the person had an expired license.
- The person renewed the expired license within 30 days after it expired and now has a drivers license.
- The person could not have been charged with driving without a license if the person had the renewed license when charged with the offense.
If a person is driving with found instead to be unlawfully driving while their license is revoked or disqualified this is discussed in NCGS 20-28. Here it notes that any person whose drivers license has been revoked who drives any motor vehicle upon the highways of the State while the license is revoked is guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor.
Upon conviction, the person's license shall be revoked for an additional period of one year for the first offense, two years for the second offense, and permanently for a third or subsequent offense.
For more information on the penalties for driving without a license in North Carolina check with the NC Department of Transportation.