Motorists in the state of New York may have their driving privileges suspended for any number of reasons, including certain traffic violations. With few exceptions, people in these situations are not permitted to operate motor vehicles during their period of suspension. Depending on the circumstances, those who drive while their licenses are suspended could be charged with misdemeanor or felony offenses, which can have serious consequences.
In many situations, people who are caught by law enforcement driving with a suspended driver's license may face a charge of third-degree aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle or AUO. This is a misdemeanor offense. According to the New York Department of Motor Vehicles, a conviction of this charge generally results in a mandatory fine of between $200 and $500 and a surcharge. Additionally, people may be sentenced to up to 30 days in jail or be put on probation.
Although it is also a misdemeanor offense, a charge of AUO in the second-degree is more serious than a third-degree charge. Generally, people may be charged with second-degree AUO if they have been convicted of third-degree AUO within the previous 18 months, or if their original suspension was for refusing a chemical test, a drug or alcohol-related offense conviction, three or more license suspensions for failing to respond to tickets, or a mandatory suspension while awaiting prosecution on drug or alcohol-related charges. A conviction on this charge carries different consequences depending on the circumstances. People could face a minimum fine of $500, a mandatory surcharge, and a mandatory sentence of up to 180 days in jail, or probation.
People may be charged with AUO in the first degree if they are driving with a suspended license resulting from a previous drug or alcohol-related offense conviction or chemical test refusal. Additionally, drivers may also be charged with first-degree AUO if they have received 10 or more prior driver's license suspensions for failing to respond to tickets. Under section 511 of New York's Vehicle and Traffic Law, this is a felony charge. As such, those convicted generally face a mandatory fine of between $500 and $5,000 and imprisonment for up to four years. Furthermore, the vehicle they were driving may be subject to seizure or forfeiture.
Due to the severity of these charges, it may be of benefit to those who have had their driving privileges suspended to seek legal counsel and representation.