What Happens After an Accident With an Unlicensed Driver Not At Fault?

The main reason people drive without a license in the U.S. is because their license has been suspended. In fact, it’s estimated that 11 million people drive everyday in the U.S. without possessing a valid driver’s license. Most DL suspensions are due to owing court fines, not paying child support, DUIDUI convictions or missing court dates. In addition, many drivers without driver’s licenses simply don’t renew their licenses when they expire, claiming they just don’t have time or can’t afford to pay for a renewed license.

If a police officer pulls you over and discovers you are driving without a license, they won’t accept any excuse for not renewing your license. Penalties for driving on an expired DL typically involve fines ranging from $50 to $500 and impoundment of your car. However, if you are caught driving on a suspended or revoked driver’s license, you will be fined thousands of dollars, have your vehicle impounded on the spot and potentially face jail time.

What Happens to Unlicensed Drivers Involved in Auto Accidents?

Approximately 20 percent of all car accidents in the U.S. involve one or more unlicensed drivers. A majority of at-fault, unlicensed drivers have had their license suspended or permanently revoked. While it’s obvious what kind of consequences an unlicensed, at-fault driver can expect (jail, fines, wage garnishments to pay damages), what can unlicensed drivers expect if another driver causes the accident?

Unlicensed Drivers are not Automatically “At-Fault”

Drivers with valid licenses who hit another car driven by an unlicensed driver cannot claim the unlicensed driver somehow “caused” the accident. If you have a valid DL and rear-ended or ran a stop sign that resulted in your vehicle hitting another vehicle, you will likely be cited as the at-fault driver.

In other words, fault is not determined by who has a valid DL and who does not have a valid DL. An unlicensed driver suffering damages due to the negligent driving of a licensed driver is still due compensation for these damages.

Consequences for At-Fault Unlicensed Drivers

What happens to unlicensed drivers causing an accident involves the same repercussions impacting licensed drivers. Consequences will also include charges associated with being an unlicensed driver. Some judges may further consider how long an at-fault, unlicensed driver has been driving without a license when handing down charges, fines or jail time.

If an unlicensed driver was driving a vehicle protected by full (comprehensive) coverage auto insurance, the vehicle’s owner may be able to get their insurance to pay for the other driver’s damages. However, when the owner of a fully insured vehicle knowingly allows an unlicensed driver to operate that vehicle, the insurance company will likely refuse to pay damages.

Never allow an unlicensed driver to operate your vehicle, regardless of the amount of insurance coverage you have on the vehicle.

An Unlicensed Driver Damaged Your Vehicle in an Accident. Now What?

Unlicensed drivers driving uninsured vehicles cause billions of dollars of property damage and physical injuries every year in the U.S. If you are one of these unlucky victims of a reckless unlicensed driver with no insurance, you can sue the unlicensed driver for damages. Unfortunately, if the driver is unemployed or has no financial resources with which to rely on to pay your damages, you may not receive the compensation you deserve.

If your vehicle was covered by comprehensive auto insurance at the time of the accident, your insurance company may pay some or all of your damages. The company will likely try to recover the amount of damages they paid you by taking the unlicensed driver to court.

An at-fault, unlicensed driver who is working at the time they caused an accident can have their wages garnished to pay for damages. However, if they quit their job, the garnishment ceases and you’ll stop receiving payments.

Fortunately, once you win your lawsuit against an unlicensed, at-fault driver, the judgement against the person remains until they have fully paid the amount they owe you. Additionally, since the U.S. no longer has “debtor’s prisons”, the unlicensed driver cannot be put in jail for failing to pay off a judgement. This means that whenever they are earning income, their wages can be garnished.

Contact Us Today for Assistance Finding  an Experienced Car Accident Lawyer

Our experienced attorneys have handled thousands of car accident cases involving unlicensed and uninsured drivers. If you or someone you know is the victim of a reckless, unlicensed driver, call us today to for help getting connected with a lawyer for a free consultation. After discussing details about your case, an attorney may determine you have a viable case against an at-fault, unlicensed driver. Don’t delay seeking legal representation. Statutes of limitations are in place that limits the amount of time you have to pursue possible compensation for your damages and medical expenses.