One of the most basic requirements for the lawful operation of a vehicle is that people need to have a valid driver’s license issued by the state where they reside. Motorists in New York have to pass a test and avoid traffic infractions if they want to both secure and maintain driving privileges.
Sometimes, due to unpaid fees or multiple traffic violations, the state will suspend or even revoke someone’s driver’s license. Of course, telling someone they can’t drive won’t eliminate the need for them to get to their job every day and transport their children to school. People sometimes gamble on the possibility that they can drive without a license and avoid getting caught.
What happens if someone gets pulled over by the police when they know they don’t have a license?
The state will pursue criminal charges
Unlike speeding which leads to a traffic citation, driving on a suspended or revoked license is a criminal offense. Most of the time, the state will pursue a misdemeanor charge. The state will charge someone who drives with a suspended license with an aggravated unlicensed operation (AUO) charge. The penalties include up to $500 in fines, as well as a license surcharge. The courts can also sentence someone to up to 30 days of imprisonment or probation.
Those who continue to drive despite their license status will face enhanced charges and penalties for subsequent charges. A second AUO within 18 months of the prior offense carries up to $1,000 in fines and 180 days in state custody or probation. In extreme cases involving intoxication and a suspended license, the state can bring felony charges that lead to up to $5,000 in fines, four years in prison and the possible forfeiture of the vehicle involved.
Drivers can fight back against pending charges
Rather than just pleading guilty to an AUO charge, a New York resident facing accusations of unlicensed operation may want to defend themselves. A successful defense strategy can protect someone from criminal consequences and having a criminal record that could potentially follow them for the rest of their life. Understanding that it is possible to successfully mount a defense with the assistance of an experienced legal professional can benefit those who have recently been accused of an aggravated unlicensed operation offense.