Possible Tougher Penalties for Driving Without a License

A recent N.C. House bill would ask for tougher penalties for driving without a license AND add the threat of jail time – a move which appears to target illegal immigrants. The consequences would become harsher for drivers who do not meet the legal requirements for a North Carolina license which includes having a valid Social Security number. These drivers could face jail time after their third offense, at which time their vehicles could be seized by the police.

Immigrants were not mentioned by legislators during the committee debate, but it’s apparent that drivers who are here illegally and as a result don’t meet NC license requirements, would be affected most by the increased penalties. Dani Moore, director of the center’s Immigrants’ Rights Project, suggested that “the legislature…consider ways for all drivers in North Carolina to get licenses.”

Opponents also voiced monetary concerns that the court system and county jails will be required to spend more to enforce a new driving law. It is estimated that each conviction could cost the state up to $361 in court costs, public defender services and probation. The projection does not including the costs involved with jailing the offenders.


Current penalties: All drivers – regardless of whether they’re eligible for a license – face a Class 3 misdemeanor charge, which carries a maximum fine of $200. Judges can only impose additional penalties if the driver is facing a fifth conviction within a single year.

Proposed penalty for drivers eligible for a license: No change

Proposed penalty for drivers who aren’t eligible for a license: A $400 fine on the 2nd and each subsequent offense, plus the possibility of a 20-60-day jail term for the 3rd or subsequent offense. On the 3rd or subsequent offense, the driver’s vehicle could be seized.



Wiley Nickel

Wiley Nickel lives and works in Cary, North Carolina. In 1998, he graduated from Tulane University with a major in Political Science and a minor in History. After college Wiley went to work for Al Gore and travelled with the Vice President as part of his national advance staff. Following the Gore campaign he earned his law degree from the Pepperdine University School of Law in 2005. While in law school Wiley worked as a law clerk in the Ventura County District Attorney’s Office where he gained valuable criminal trial experience before taking and passing the California bar exam. His first job out of law school was for the Merced County District Attorney’s Office where he worked as a Deputy District Attorney with a focus on prosecuting DWI offenders. Wiley later joined the Law Offices of Joseph Uremovic where he focused on civil litigation and family law. When the opportunity came to join the Obama campaign in 2008 Wiley jumped at the chance. He spent three years travelling with President Obama as a member of his national advance team. In 2011 Wiley left his work for the White House to return to the practice of law. Wiley devotes the majority of his practice to the areas of criminal law, family law, traffic tickets and DMV issues. The Law Offices of Wiley Nickel was started with the goal of providing the best representation possible for all of his clients. Experienced, Compassionate, Aggressive Criminal Defense While defense attorney Wiley Nickel works as the primary attorney for all of his cases, he does have an associate attorney, a team of investigators, forensic consultants, and support staff to call on to help achieve the best possible result in every case. He limits his case load so that he can focus on providing the best possible legal defense to all of his clients. Every case is a top priority and the goal is to have your case dismissed with a focus on being able to expunge your charges at the end of the process. When he is not working, Wiley is an avid family man, distance runner and golfer. He loves North Carolina college sports and is hoping this is the year for Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers. Wiley is licensed to practice law in North Carolina and California.