Maybe you forgot your wallet before driving to the grocery store. This mistake seems benign, especially if it was an accident and you did not break any other traffic laws. But if you get caught driving without a license (DWOL), you can expect penalties that might be harsher than you think.
Driving without a license
Maryland law requires all motorists in the state to carry a valid driver’s license while driving. This applies to people driving automobiles. If you are driving a moped, motorcycle or commercial truck, you may need a special class of license that permits you to operate such vehicles on Maryland roads.
Penalties for DWOL
If you are caught DWOL, you can expect to be penalized. If it is your first time being charged with DWOL, you will face a prison sentence of up to 60 days and/or a $500 fine. If it is your second or subsequent time being charged with DWOL, you will face a prison sentence of up to one year and/or a $500 fine.
As a traffic infraction, any DWOL offense will also add five points to your license. If you accumulate a certain number of points on your license your driver’s license could be suspended or you could be penalized in other ways.
Exceptions to DWOL
Believe it or not, some people do not need a license to operate a vehicle when driving in Maryland.
Non-residents do not need a Maryland driver’s license, although they do need a license from the state that they reside in. U.S. military personnel and U.S. Congress members also do not need to carry a Maryland license if they are on official business when driving.
If you are driving a farm vehicle or fire engine, you might not need to carry a Maryland driver’s license depending on the circumstances. There are other exceptions as well.
Still, these are narrow exceptions that most drivers do not fall under. So, it is generally in your best interests to ensure you have your driver’s license on you if you plan on operating a motor vehicle in Maryland.