Sometimes you're rushing to get out of the house and you may forget to grab your wallet. You may not realize it until after you've reached your destination. But what happens if you end up getting pulled over on your way home and you don't have your license on you? Is it illegal, even if it's an honest mistake?

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Will New York Ever Allow Drivers To Get Digital Driver’s Licenses?

Before we get to the legality of driving without your license on you, wouldn't it be nice if you could have your license on your phone? As we move further and further into a technological age, it only makes sense that our personal identification becomes digitized. To some extent, it already is, like when they scan your driver's license. Certain information is stored and or verified digitally from the hard copy of your ID. But some states are now offering digital versions of driver's licenses to residents. According to Trust Grid,

A digital driver’s licence (DDL)—meant as a supplement to, rather than a substitution for, the physical card—is an electronic version of the traditional driver’s licence stored on a smartphone using high-tech digital security features to prevent unauthorised tampering and access.

A digital driver's license is not just a digital photo of your license. It uses technology to encrypt your ID and personal information.

According to the NY Post, a couple of years ago, Apple lobbyists met with officials in New York State to push for its technology to be used to issue driver's licenses. Some of the states that currently have digital DLs do use Apple Wallet, but not all of them do.

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Can You Be Arrested For Driving Without Your License With You In New York State?

In order to legally operate a motor vehicle in New York State, you must be at least 16 years old, have a valid New York State driver's license or permit, or have a valid driver's license or permit issued by another state or country.

If you meet all of those criteria, but just forget or misplace your license, what will happen to you if you get caught driving in New York without it?

According to, you can be arrested for driving without having your license in your possession,

A driver who was licensed but did not have the license in his or her immediate possession can be arrested for driving without a license. However, the person cannot be convicted of a crime if the driver was properly licensed.

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If you drive a vehicle without having a license in New York State and get caught, you could pay a monetary fine of between $75 and $300. You could also spend up to 15 days in jail. If you do have a valid license, but don't have it in your possession when you get pulled over, the police officer could charge you for driving without a license. However, there is a bit of good news. According to New York Motorist Insurance,

The penalties for driving without a license vary depending on the severity of the incident. If you are pulled over and don’t have your license with you, but you do have a valid license at home, you can get the charges dropped. You will just need to produce the license in court to have your penalties removed.

The unfortunate part is that you may have to go through all of the motions of getting caught without a valid license, like being ticketed, arrested, etc. Then you will need to show up in court to prove that you do indeed have a valid license.

It seems like the best option is to always have your license on you. It would be great if New York State had a program like the one Utah was testing (see pic above) to have some sort of mobile access to your driver's license.

***This article is not intended to provide any legal advice or counsel

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