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Question: In North Carolina, what is the penalty if someone is caught driving my car without a license? What is the penalty for them and myself if the car is in my name?

Answer: We are not legal experts, so if you allowed someone to drive your vehicle knowing they were unlicensed and both the driver and you, the car owner, were cited by North Carolina law enforcement, you should contact the court listed on the ticket for information and perhaps a lawyer.

What we can tell you is that NC laws states that a person should not drive unlicensed and a car owner should not allow an unlicensed driver to operate their vehicle.

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.

Statute 20‑32 is titled unlawful to permit unlicensed minor to drive motor vehicle and says that it shall be unlawful for any person to cause or knowingly permit any minor under the age of 18 years to drive a motor vehicle upon a highway as an operator, unless such minor shall have first obtained a license to so drive a motor vehicle.

Also NC Statute 20‑34 may apply to your situation where it notes that no person shall authorize or knowingly permit a motor vehicle owned by him or under his control to be driven by any person who has no legal right to do so or in violation of any of the provisions of this Article.

NC Statute 20‑35 discusses the penalties for violating this Article (Article 2) the law and driving without a license. Here it states that a violation of this Article is a Class 2 misdemeanor unless a statute in the Article sets a different punishment for the violation. If a statute in this Article sets a different punishment for a violation of the Article, the different punishment applies. Since no other penalties were listed for 20-7, 20-32 or 20-34 it would appear they are all Class 2 misdemeanors in NC.

A Class 2 misdemeanor in North Carolina usually comes with a fine and/or jail time. It is our understanding that currently it is up to 6 months in jail and or up to a $500 fine, if you were cited for a class 2 misdemeanor, though you could contact the court or a lawyer to find out for certain.

Section 20‑23.1 of the NC Statutes may also apply to the person caught driving without a license. Here it says that in any case where the Division would be authorized to suspend or revoke the license of a person but such person does not hold a license, the Division is authorized to suspend or revoke the operating privilege of such a person in like manner as it could suspend or revoke his license if such person held a driver's license, and the provisions of this Chapter governing suspensions, revocations, issuance of a license, and driving after license suspended or revoked, shall apply in the discretion of the Division in the same manner as if the license has been suspended or revoked.

It does not say that the person that was driving without a license would have a delay in their ability to apply and obtain a NC driver's license but it could be a possibility. Check with the NC Department of Transportation (NC DOT) to find out if this type of violation conviction would keep the unlicensed person from obtaining their license for a period of time if the person did want to get a North Carolina driver's license.

This incident might be recorded in your driving record and cause your liability insurance rates to increase.