Ordinary traffic tickets, like speeding or simple unlicensed operation, are not crimes. However, driving on a suspended license in New York State can have serious consequences, including felony charges in some situations. Although charged by traffic ticket, it is a criminal offense for which you will an experienced criminal defense attorney.

Simple Unlicensed Driving/Driving Out of Class

Every driver on the road in New York is required to have a valid license either issued by DMV or another state. Anyone convicted of simple unlicensed driving in New York is resulting in a fine and surcharge. This is to be contrasted with driving on a suspended license.   

The penalties are the same whether the driver is underage or older. You may also be charged with driving out of class for operating a vehicle without the proper license endorsement. For instance, you may be charged and convicted for driving a truck that requires a CDL, even if your driver’s license is valid, or if you are driving a motorcycle on a passenger car license. Also, if you have a permit and drive outside its limits, you can be charged for that, and lose the permit.

criminal defense

Driving on a Suspended License

Driving on a license that has been suspended or revoked is called “Aggravated Unlicensed Operation” of a vehicle (AUO). This depends on what the license is suspended for. If it is suspended for unpaid fines, failure to appear, insurance lapse, or non-DWI reasons, it is generally a Class B misdemeanor with fines between $200-$500. Further, the charge can usually be reduced if the reason for suspension is taken care of. Multiple suspensions can result in higher charges. 10 or more suspensions can result in felony charges. For a first offense, you may face fines of up to $500 and a maximum 30 days in jail.

If your license was revoked because due to an alcohol-related reason (DWI, chemical test refusal), you’ll likely be charged with a second-degree AUO, which carries a mandatory jail sentence of 7-180 days and a $500 fine. A second conviction for driving on a suspended license within 18 months also qualifies as second-degree AUO, punishable by the same sentence.

Defendants accused of DWI and having a suspended license due to DWI, or who have had 10 or more license suspensions will be charged with a felony, and can be subjected to a state prison sentence.

If you’ve been accused of driving without a license or with a suspended license in Rochester, NY, turn to Thomas A. Corletta, Attorney & Counselor at Law, a criminal defense attorney with nearly 40 years of experience in license and DMV matters. You’ll always work directly with him, and he can help you regain your license. Visit his website for more on his criminal defense/DWI services or call (585) 546-5072 to schedule a consultation.