The penalty for letting someone without a license drive your car in North Carolina is as severe as driving without a license yourself. Both are class 3 misdemeanors under North Carolina law.

You may face up to 20 days in jail and a $200 fine if convicted. There are also a few other specific categories of driving without a license in North Carolina law that have different penalties.

In addition to the legal penalties, you may also face insurance problems.

What happens if you get caught driving without a license in NC?

There are some cases where being caught driving without a license is a lesser violation. These are known as “no operating license” or NOL and are considered moving violations:

  • You have a valid driver’s license, but it’s not in your possession    
  • Your North Carolina driver’s license is expired
  • You’ve lived in North Carolina for more than 60 days and still only have a valid out-of-state license

 if you are cited for driving in any of these cases, you will face:

  • A fine of up to $100, plus court costs
  • 3 points on your driver’s record
  • 1 point on your insurance record

Some cases are classified as Class 2 misdemeanors in North Carolina. These include:

  • Driving with a canceled or revoked drivers’ license
  • Driving with a suspended license
  • Knowingly showing a fake drivers’ license

These offenses are punishable by up to 60 days in jail and a fine of up to $1,000.

Car insurance and unlicensed drivers

Your car insurance covers anyone you allow to drive your vehicle under “permissive use” rules. However, it may not cover anything that happens as a result of an unlicensed driver behind the wheel. Insurance policies may have wording that excludes coverage to any unlicensed driver.

When you allow another person to drive your car, you are responsible for anything that happens. If there’s an accident, you’re liable. Not only could the claim be denied, it will affect your car insurance rates in the future.

More resources for North Carolina drivers

The following guides provide more details on car insurance coverage and laws:

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Michelle Megna
Contributing Researcher

Michelle is a writer, editor and expert on car insurance and personal finance. She's a former editorial director. Prior to joining, she reported and edited articles on technology, lifestyle, education and government for magazines, websites and major newspapers, including the New York Daily News.