Vehicle Code 12951 CVC - Failing to Present a Driver’s Licence

If you’re received a citation in the mail for a supposed Vehicle Code 1251 CVC violation and are feeling confused as to how you received it, or whether it’s accurate, you aren’t alone. Here is your introductory guide on all you need to know. This include:

What is Vehicle Code 1251 CVC?

The best place to start with an understanding of just what this Vehicle Code 1251 CVC ticket is is by using the legislature. The California Vehicle Code explains this as: “The licensee shall have the valid driver’s license issued to him or her in his or her immediate possession at all times when driving a motor vehicle upon a highway […] The driver of a motor vehicle shall present his or her license for examination upon demand of a peace officer enforcing the provisions of this code.”

In simpler terms, this means that you must have your current/valid license on you whenever you get behind the wheel. You also must show that license to a police officer when asked directly for it.

What does it mean to have violated Vehicle Code 1251 CVC?

While it seems pretty straightforward, the best way to understand what it really means to violate this citation is through using a few examples. Our imaginary California driver, Zeus, is going to be our example in these situations.

Let’s start out easy. Zeus is in a rush to get to work because he overslept and grabs his keys but forgets his wallet. He gets pulled over for speeding and doesn’t have a license to give to the peace officer who stops him, even though he is very willing to give it to that peace officer. Zeus has a perfectly valid license that he is more than willing to show the officer, but it is not in the car with him. He is guilty of a Vehicle Code 1251 CVC violation because he is technically driving without a license.

In another example, Zeus has recently moved to California from Texas. He is perfectly comfortable driving, so he grabs his keys to head to a movie with a neighbor. He gets pulled over on the way because he yielded instead of stopped at a stop sign. When handing over his license, he only has a Texas license and not a California one. He has been living in the state long enough that his beyond the “grace period” for this change but does not have a valid California license. This would count as failing to present his license.

Lastly, let’s say that Zeus is driving home from a party, and he’s nervous about getting pulled over by a police officer. He does get pulled over for a burnt-out taillight and refuses to show his license to a peace officer because he fears being asked other questions about drinking, etc. This refusal to show his license in order to protect his identity, regardless of how fearful he was, is a Vehicle Code 1251 CVC violation.

A peace officer or other professional in the CHP has the right to ask for your license, and this is part of what you agree to when you initially receive your license. Refusing to show it is therefore breaking that agreement.

There are some valid exceptions to receiving this violation, which is important to know. In the first example, let’s say Zeus was pulled over on the way to work and didn’t have his license on him to show, but the officer had no probable cause to pull him over in the first place. Anything the peace officer discovers wouldn’t be admissable because being pulled over was illegal.

Another exception would be if Zeus were not the driver of the vehicle. In the second example, if his neighbor was the one to drive and get pulled over, Zeus isn’t required to have his valid California license on him because he is not driving. In this case, he is a passenger and is not under any requirement for this license to be switched from Texas to California.

The last exception would be if Zeus was pulled over and did have his license on him to show, a supposed Vehicle Code 1251 CVC violation wouldn’t stand. In this example, Zeus may refuse once or even twice, but he would eventually show his license to the peace officer. In this case, he wouldn’t be guilty because he did have his license, and he did show it to the peace officer.

What can I do about this violation?

If you receive a Vehicle Code 1251 CVC violation, it would be classified as an infraction if you were to be caught driving without. A refusal to show it to a peace officer would be considered a misdemeanor.

If the charge is an infraction, it would be a fee of $250, payable to the court. If you are charged with a misdemeanor, however, it can carry a 6-month county jail sentence with it if you are charged and found guilty in a courtroom. Some judges will downgrade this to probation if there are no other pending violations. In some cases, the fee is also increased up to $1 000.

It’s best to plead guilty to the offense and accept the punishment set by the court without complaint if you know that you are guilty of it. This keeps things complication-free. If you are innocent, however, you have the right to an attorney that can help you argue your case in the courtroom.

Other possible Vehicle Code violation connections

In some situations, the peace officer or the court may decide to attach other violations or charges to the existing Vehicle Code 1251 CVC violation. Common attachments to this violation include:

  • Vehicle Code 12500 VC: This violation implies that you do not have a valid California license on file/issued to you when you are asked for it.
  • Vehicle 14601a VC: This ticket is for when you are caught driving with a suspended license rather than not having it on you or refusing to show it.
  • Vehicle Code 2800 CVC: While not as commonly issued, this violation implies that you are directly disobeying the directions or order of a peace officer (by refusing to give your license to them).

There are some penal code violations that are attached in some situations, but we’ll just keep it focused on the traffic citations for the moment. In some cases, these traffic and penal violations are attached to the Vehicle Code 1251 CVC violation, or they (in any combination or number) are used in place of it. It often depends on the judgment of the issuing peace officer.

Is this ticket eligible for traffic school?

In the state of California, some tickets can be eligible for traffic school to mask them from your driving record after reeducation. Eligibility for any accredited driving school, including MM TRAFFIC SCHOOL, is for a moving offense and involves your driving technique. Since a Vehicle Code 1251 CVC violation is more of a paperwork violation, it is not eligible for driving school.

Are you looking for more information on the specifics of this ticket? If so, please feel free to contact us, and we can go into it with you to help ease your concerns. If you want a more personalized approach, please reach out to the court that issued your ticket.

How can I avoid a citation for a Vehicle Code 1251 CVC violation?

Without question, avoiding the citation is always going to be your best defense when wanting to keep your record clean and yourself in good standing with peace officers. There are some ways that you can avoid receiving a Vehicle Code 1251 CVC violation. We’ve explored them in more detail below.

One of the first things that you’ll want to do is to always make sure that you have your license on you when you get behind the wheel. This is why most people do the “keys, wallet, phone” tap that you hear about online. If you are really worried about it, make it part of your check when you start the engine of the car. Alternatively, you can store your license with your insurance and registration paperwork so that everything is in one spot!

Secondly, you’ll want to make sure that you make getting a valid California license one of the priorities when you move to California. For this reason, many people will try to do the registration, insurance, and license all at the same time at the DMV (which is standard). That grace period is there for the first month or so, but you won’t want to rely on that!

The other main thing to focus on is the idea of obeying the peace officer. It’s normal to be nervous at getting pulled over, regardless of how innocent you may be or what the situation might be behind it. If a peace officer asks for your license, give it over every time when asked. It will always be better than refusing, as this violation proves. Please keep in mind: You are only going to receive a Vehicle Code 1251 CVC violation if you can’t or refuse to show your license when asked. If you are not asked to show it, you are not guilty of the violation!




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