Aggravated Unlicensed Operation in NY – AUO

Driving without a license and driving with a suspended license in New York State, Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, Bronx, Staten Island, Westchester County and New York City.
You will need legal assistance.

Aggravated unlicensed operation occurs when someone is pulled over for another traffic violation, such as speeding, VTL § 1180, and the officer runs your license only to find out that your driving privileges have been suspended or revoked in New York State. The main statute is New York’s Vehicle and Traffic Law (“VTL”) 511, or VTL § 511. This charge is separate and distinct from driving without a license. Aggravated unlicensed driving is a crime (misdemeanor of felony), whereby driving without a license, VTL § 509, is an infraction.

Suspension or revocation – there is a difference

Although the result is the same – you cannot drive – there is a huge difference in New York State between a suspension or revocation.

There are numerous alcohol related revocations and suspensions. More common reasons are:

1-year revocation

Aggravated Driving While Intoxicated.18% Blood Alcohol Concentration (.18 BAC) or higher. (AGG DWI CIV) DWI with a child 15 years old or younger in vehicle.

DWI, .08 BAC or DWAI- Drug committed within 10 years of any previous violation.

First alcohol or drug-related violation by a driver, except Zero Tolerance, under age 21.

Revocation until age 21 or 1-year, whichever is longer

Second alcohol or drug-related violation by a driver, except Zero Tolerance, under age 21

6-month revocation:

Driving While Intoxicated (DWI), or with .08 % Blood Alcohol Concentration (.08 BAC).

DWAI committed within 5 years of any previous alcohol or drug-related violation.

Refusing a DWI chemical test (breathalyzer) 

6-month suspension

Driving While Ability Impaired by a Drug (DWAI-Drug)

90-day suspension

Driving While Ability Impaired by Alcohol (DWAI).

Often a New York driver’s license is suspended because the operator has outstanding speeding tickets or other traffic tickets that were not answered in a city, town, or village court of the State of New York or New York City. Sometimes, a fine on a case where the driver pleads guilty was not paid, or a driver responsibility assessment remains unpaid. Bouncing a check to the NYS DMV results in an indefinite suspension of driving privileges.

A driver’s license can be suspended under VTL § 510-c for various reasons. For example, a junior license holder, class DJ, or a junior motorcycle license holder, class MJ, can be suspended for 60 days for a conviction of hit and run, running a red light, running a stop sign, passing a stopped school bus, speeding, reckless driving, following too closely, participating in a speed contest, failure to wear a seatbelt, or any two other violations. 

Further, a NYS driver’s license can be suspended for five years after an alcohol related conviction (DWI and DWAI) for any moving point violation, and can be suspended for a drug conviction or failure to pay child support.

For being convicted of failure to carry auto insurance, VTL § 319, your New York driving privileges are revoked for a MINIMUM of 1 year.

Being convicted of 3 or more speeding tickets that were all WRITTEN within an 18 month period results in a New York State driver’s license revocation for at least 6 months. Accruing 11 or more points in any given 18 month period results in a license suspension until the points drop to fewer than 11.

There are varying degrees of aggravated unlicensed operation. AUO 3rd Degree, NY VTL § 511(1)(a) is a misdemeanor crime and carries a mandatory fine up to $500.00 plus a surcharge, and the defendant could be sentenced to up to 30 days in prison and probation. The elements of AUO 3rd Degree are that the person drove while their license was suspended for failure to answer a ticket, appear in court to a VTL charge, or pay a fine. Only one active suspension is required.

AUO 2nd Degree, NY VTL § 511(2)(a) is a misdemeanor crime as well and carries a fine from  $500.00 – $1,000.00 plus a surcharge. Further, this crime carriers a MINIMUM sentence of 7 days in prison; up to 180 days in prison; OR probation. In other words, when you are convicted of aggravated unlicensed operation in the second degree, you will either go to jail or be sentenced to probation. The elements of AUO 2nd are that the defendant has a minimum of 3 separate active suspensions, or that the person drove while the license was suspended refusing a DWI breathalyzer or under suspension pending prosecution of a DWI case.

AUO 1st Degree, NY VTL § 5ll(3)(a), is a very serious class E felony which carries a mandatory fine of between $500.00 and $5,000.00 dollars, and either a jail sentence of up to 4 years or a sentence of probation. The elements of felony AUO 1st is that the defendant had 10 or more active suspensions imposed on ten different dates; OR they were arrested while impaired or intoxicated when under suspension for a breathalyzer DWI refusal or alcohol related offense (driving while intoxicated or driving while ability impaired). 

Often times people charged with aggravated unlicensed operation in New York City have no idea that their license was suspended. People often move and do not update their address with the DMV so warning notices and suspension letters go to the wrong address. While this is not a legal justification defense, it is the pragmatic cause of the underlying suspension.

When you retain a law firm to defend your against AUO charges in NYS, you need a law firm that will provide a comprehensive defense and strategy in not just defending you in the court where you are charged with aggravated unlicensed operation in the 3rd degree, but also has the knowledge to guide you to clearing all of your underlying suspensions from the operation. It is our underlying goal to negotiate a plea bargain so that you (1) get back on the road legally, and (2) negotiate a plea to a non-criminal resolution.

We are one of the few non-government entities that have DIRECT ACCESS to the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles computer records – with your driver’s license information we can pull your NYS DMV driver’s history, called an “abstract,” and have at our fingertips the underlying causes of the suspensions and advise you on the course of action to take in order to clear them. Then, we will bring this proof into court and attempt to negotiate a non-criminal disposition showing that you fixed the problem. This way you do not have to take your case to trial and risk a criminal conviction, and your fine will be a lot lower. Often times we can do this without the need for you to appear in court.