Guide to Driving Otherwise than in Accordance with a Licence

The Offence

It is an offence to drive a motor vehicle on the road that you do not have a relevant driving licence for.

Typical scenarios where this charge may be used are driving a vehicle:

  1. without a driving licence;
  2. without a driving licence for that class of vehicle;
  3. during a period of disqualification;
  4. on a provisional licence without displaying 'L' plates or unaccompanied; and/or
  5. in the UK on a foreign licence which is not valid, either generally or for that vehicle.

It is also an offence to knowingly let someone else commit this offence. Typical examples of this are:

  1. supervising a learner driver without complying with the rules for provisional licence holders; and
  2. allowing someone to use a/your vehicle when it is known that they do not hold a valid driving licence.   

All the authorities need to show is that the vehicle in question was being driven on a road.  The obligation is then on you to show that this was in accordance with a valid licence at the time.

Do I need an NIP (Notice of Intended Prosecution) for driving without a licence?

No, there is no requirement for an NIP for driving without a licence.

Alternative Charge:  If a vehicle is being driven without a valid licence this will probably invalidate any insurance policy that the driver holds, so you may also find that you are charged with driving without insurance.


Fine up to £1000, 3-6 penalty points and discretionary disqualification from driving.


It is up to the Defendant to prove their innocence.  They must show that they (or the person driving) held a valid licence that covered them to drive or that the vehicle concerned was not being driven on a road or not being driven at all. 

In order to obtain an acquittal or receive reduced punishment you must be able to identify the relevant facts.  You must have an intricate knowledge of what vehicles you are required to hold a licence to drive and what classes of vehicles are covered by different licences.

There are further factors that may be taken into account by the Court to keep any punishment to a minimum such as a genuine emergency, necessity of the particular circumstances and distance driven.  Whatever the situation faced, we recommend that you call us for specialist legal advice.

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