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Out of State Drivers License in California - California Vehicle Code 12502(a)

Posted by Raoul Severo | Sep 09, 2020 | 0 Comments

Perhaps you're going on a road trip across the country or simply planning to visit a loved one or a friend in another state. Most people choose to take public transportation for personal reasons, but there are also those who prefer driving their own car. The convenience and efficiency of the latter option is something that is undeniable -- but the question is: is it legal?

This is a concern that often comes first in people's minds when they plan on making a trip to another state -- which is totally understandable since each state basically has its own legal systems. What may be lawful to your home state may not be lawful in another jurisdiction. The speed limit, age restrictions, and other elements vary immensely in the United States of America. Hence, it may be reasonable to think that a driver is not allowed to use the roads of a certain state unless he is a registered driver of that said state. However, it cannot be further from the truth. In California, a non-resident may still legally drive inside their premises provided that they have a valid out-of-state driver's license. What that basically means is that the license must be issued by the driver's home state. A Colorado citizen must have a valid Colorado DL and no other state. 

Furthermore, the California Vehicle Code 12502(a) enumerates the following specifications:

  • An out-of-state driver must be above the age of 18;
  • An out-of-state driver, who is 21 years old or above and transporting hazardous materials, must present an official document endorsed by the state in which the hazardous materials were produced; and
  • An out-of-state driver must have a valid driver's license matching the type of vehicle the person is operating in California.

It is very important to keep in mind that as an out-of-state driver, you must comply with the requirements. That is why you must always have your documents or DL with you so when a traffic enforcer or a police officer stops you, you may prove that you are within your constitutional right to drive a vehicle in the place. In fact, you should always bring your driver's license with you at all times. Otherwise, you will be charged under California Vehicle Code 12500 for driving without a license. Also, police officers have the tendency to still give drivers a citation for having an out-of-state driver's license. In which case, proving that you are not a California resident is your strongest defense.

Speaking of which, your out-of-state driver's license will expire if you decide to become a California citizen. You are given 10 days to apply for a bona fide California DL as soon as you officially become a state resident. For a full comprehensive guideline on how to become a California inhabitant, you may seek legal assistance from well-established lawyers here in California.

Punishments for Invalid or Expired Out-Of-State DL

The law made it very clear that non-residents may drive around the state if their DL remains valid in their state residence. If during your stay in California your out-of-state DL expires, then your privilege of using California's road will automatically end, too. If you persist on hitting the road even with an invalid license and you are coincidentally stopped by a cop, then you may face the following consequences:

  • For a traffic infraction, the driver will be mandated to pay a fine of not more than $250. 
  • For a misdemeanor, the driver will be mandated to pay a fine of not more than $1,000, receive probation, and get his/her vehicle impounded.

These penalties are under California Penal Code 12500. Additional penalties may be added on top of the aforementioned punishments if the driver commits more than one traffic violation, such as speeding, running a red light, and not wearing a seatbelt.

Legal Assistance for Out-of-State Driver's License in California

If you would like to know more about California's ordinances with regards to out-of-state DLs, then you may contact California lawyers and other qualified individuals for consultation. Meanwhile, if you believe you have been wrongfully cited for simply having an out-of-state license, then you may get help from defense lawyers here at the Office of Raoul Severo who are more than ready to fight for your rights. 

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