California Vehicle Code Section 12951 VC: Failing To Present A Driver’s License

driver’s license crime

1. Definition and Elements of the Offense

Not only are California drivers required to maintain valid driver’s licenses, drivers must physically carry their driver’s license with them any time they are driving and must provide this upon demand of a law enforcement officer. Under California Vehicle Code Section 12951 VC, failing to present a driver’s license is against the law.

In order to prove that a defendant is guilty of failing to present a driver’s license, the following elements must be present:

  1. The defendant drove a motor vehicle
  2. A peace officer, enforcing the Vehicle Code, demanded that the defendant present his or her driver’s license for the officer to examine
  3. AND the defendant did not present his or her driver’s license in response to the officer’s request.

A motor vehicle can include a passenger vehicle, motorcycle, scooter, bus, commercial vehicle, truck, tractor or trailer.

2. Related Offenses

Similar offenses include the following:

  1. Driving without a License - California Vehicle Code Section 12500 VC
  2. Driving on a Suspended or Revoked License - California Vehicle Code Section 14601 VC

3. Examples

A woman leaves her house to run a quick errand and inadvertently forgets her wallet. She is driving and is pulled over by police, who demand to see her driver’s license. The woman explains that she left the license in her wallet but she is, in fact, a valid driver. The police verify that her driving privileges are valid. The woman could still be cited for failing to present a driver’s license in violation of California Vehicle Code Section 12951 VC.

In another example, a man is relaxing at the beach when a law enforcement officer demands that he provide identification. The man left his wallet and driver’s license at home and explains this to the officer. This man would not be guilty of failing to present a driver’s license because he was not driving a motor vehicle at the time of the request. Additionally, the law enforcement officer was not enforcing the Vehicle Code at the time of the request, which is a required element of the offense.

4. Defenses to Failing to Present a Driver’s License

Under California Vehicle Code Section 12951 VC, if the defendant is able to later provide proof in court that he or she had a valid driver’s license on the date of the arrest, then the violation would be automatically dismissed.

In addition, if the law enforcement officer stopped the defendant’s vehicle without probable cause, the defendant could challenge the legality of the stop and potentially have all resulting evidence suppressed. If this happens, the case would be unable to proceed and would have to be dismissed.

5. Penalties

Failing to present a driver’s license is an infraction under California Vehicle Code Section 12951 VC that is punishable by a $250 maximum court fine (not including additional penalty assessments). As discussed above, a defendant who has been cited for this offense can have the violation dismissed if he or she can show that they were a validly licensed driver at the time that they were stopped and cited. This dismissal is mandatory except on a defendant’s third or subsequent violation of California Vehicle Code Section 12951 VC. In these cases, it is within a judge’s discretion whether or not to dismiss the charge after a defendant has provided a valid license.

6. Criminal Defense for Failing to Present a Driver’s License

If you have been charged with failing to present a driver’s license it is very important that you consult with a Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney as soon as possible. If properly handled, the case can be dismissed without incident. As a former Deputy District Attorney with over 14 years of prosecutorial experience, Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney Michael Kraut is highly effective at representing clients charged with vehicle code violations. Mr. Kraut is highly respected by judges, law enforcement and prosecutors as a knowledgeable advocate who fights hard on behalf of his clients charged with these types of offenses. In most cases, Mr. Kraut can appear on behalf of his clients to spare them the hassle and embarrassment of personally appearing in court.

For more information about failing to present a driver’s license, and to schedule your free consultation, contact Los Angeles Criminal Defense Lawyer Michael Kraut at the Kraut Law Group located at 6255 Sunset Boulevard, Suite 1480, Los Angeles, CA 90028. Mr. Kraut can be reached 24/7 at 888-334-6344 or 323-464-6453.

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