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What happens if you drive anyway with a suspended license?

On Behalf of | Apr 9, 2021 | Criminal Defense |

Driving is a necessity for many people. Public transportation can be too unreliable for those with frequent travel obligations, while ridesharing or taxi services could be cost-prohibitive. Whether you need to get to work or get your kids to school, you need personal transportation to meet the daily obligations of your life.

Unfortunately, if you fail to pay a traffic ticket, get accused of impaired driving or make any of a number of mistakes, the state of New York could choose to suspend your driver’s license. Quite a few people decide to keep driving even when the state suspends their license. After all, how can anyone prove the status of your license while you are out on the road?

You may think that as long as you don’t cause a crash, you won’t have any issues. However, the risk is always there for someone to cause a collision no matter how careful you are. Beyond that, police officers could pull you over and realize that you don’t have a valid license. When that happens, you will likely face criminal charges.

What charge comes from driving with a suspended license?

In New York, the decision to drive with a suspended license is typically a misdemeanor offense. The state calls it aggravated unlicensed operation (AUO). A first-time AUO offense is a third-degree offense. You could face up to 30 days of jail time or probation. There will also be mandatory fees, including fines of up to $500.

A second AUO charge within 18 months of the first can mean up to 180 days in jail and $500 is the minimum fine. Those who have multiple repeat offenses and those who have a suspended license because of a refused chemical test or impaired driving violations could face first-degree AUO charges. Unlike lower-level offenses, this is a felony charge that could mean a loss of your vehicle and up to four years of imprisonment.

Avoiding a suspended license or securing a restricted license when you need to continue driving could help you avoid AUO criminal charges. You also have the opportunity to defend yourself against an AUO after a traffic stop results in your arrest. Knowing the status of your license is also important if you hope to avoid unintentionally driving without a valid license.