Fri 25 Nov, 2022 Criminal Defense

What Happens if you Drive with a Suspended License in New York?

You can be charged with a crime in New York if you drive a vehicle while knowing that you have a suspended license. Depending on the particulars of your case, you could be charged with a misdemeanor or a felony. Further, the ultimate outcome of your case will typically depend on your criminal history or lack thereof. For many cases, an experienced NYC unlicensed driving lawyer can help you get a good outcome.

If you are arrested for operating a motor vehicle while having reason to know that your license was revoked or suspended, you will be charged with the crime of V.T.L. 511 Aggravated Unlicensed Operation of a Motor Vehicle—either in the third, second, or first degree.

Aggravated Unlicensed Operation of a Motor Vehicle Third Degree

Aggravated Unlicensed Operation of a Motor Vehicle is most commonly charged in the third degree, otherwise known as V.T.L. 511(1)(a). 

A typical Aggravated Unlicensed Operation of a Motor Vehicle case happens as follows:

You are driving down the street and a police officer pulls you over for a moving violation, like speeding or running through a red light. The officer writes you a ticket, which you put in your glove box. You plan to pay for the ticket, but life gets in the way, and you forget about it. Fast forward one year, and you get pulled over again for speeding, but this time the officer arrests you because your license had been suspended by the DMV for not paying the moving violation ticket.

A critical question in all Aggravated Unlicensed Operation of a Motor Vehicle cases is whether you had reason to know that your license was suspended. Typically, when you don’t pay a moving violation ticket, after several months the DMV will suspend your license for failing to pay the ticket. When the DMV suspends your license, they send written notification to the address that you have on file with them. The DMV also keeps business records that they call “proof of mailing.” When the DMV sends a notification that a person’s license has been suspended, they keep “proof of mailing” records that prove the notification was sent to the recipient’s address on file.

If the DMV suspends your license and sends you a notification to your address on file, then you are deemed as having reason to know that your license was suspended. Accordingly, you can be arrested for Aggravated Unlicensed Operation of a Motor Vehicle even if you didn’t actually know that your license was suspended. All the government must prove is that you had reason to know that your license was suspended, and a “proof of mailing” is sufficient proof. It’s not uncommon for a person to change addresses and forget to tell the DMV. Such a person would not necessarily receive DMV correspondence that notifies them that their license is suspended, but they could still be criminally liable if a notice of suspension is sent to their old address and they operate their motor vehicle with a suspended license. An experienced NYC unlicensed driving attorney can assess whether you might have a defense regarding the proof of mailing.

Aggravated Unlicensed Operation of a Motor Vehicle in the Third is a class B misdemeanor. If convicted, you get a criminal record, and you could be sentenced to up to thirty days in jail plus a fine of up to five hundred dollars.

Aggravated Unlicensed Operation of a Motor Vehicle in the Second Degree

If you commit Aggravated Unlicensed Operation of a Motor Vehicle in the Third Degree and certain factors exist, your charge will be bumped up to the second degree—which results in worse penalties, including up to one hundred and eighty days in jail and higher fines. The aggravating factors that will bump your charge to the second degree include:

  • You have been convicted of Aggravated Unlicensed Operation of a Motor Vehicle within the last eighteen months;
  • Your license was suspended due to driving while intoxicated-related issues; and
  • You have at least three suspensions on three separate dates.

Aggravated Unlicensed Operation of a Motor Vehicle in the First Degree

If you commit Aggravated Unlicensed Operation of a Motor Vehicle in the Second Degree and other aggravating factors exist, you will be charged with Aggravated Unlicensed Operation of a Motor Vehicle in the First Degree. This charge is a Class E Felony, and if convicted, you could face up to four years in prison and fines of up to $5000. The aggravating factors include:

  • You are also illegally operating the motor vehicle by virtue of being impaired or intoxicated by drugs or alcohol;
  • You have 10 or more suspensions from 10 different days; and
  • Your license has been permanently revoked.

What are the Consequences of Driving with a Suspended License?

If you are charged with some degree of Aggravated Unlicensed Operation of a Motor Vehicle, the outcome of your case will depend on which degree you are charged with as well as the particulars of your case.

For most people charged with Unlicensed Operation of a Motor Vehicle in the Third Degree—the most common degree of the charge—an NYC unlicensed driving lawyer can very likely get your charges reduced to a non-criminal traffic infraction of V.T.L. 509 if you have never been previously charged for driving with a suspended license. Also, a skilled NYC unlicensed driving lawyer could possibly convince the prosecution to completely dismiss the charges if you are willing to pay the DMV for any fees owed to get your license restored. Either way, if you have been charged with Aggravated Unlicensed Operation of a Motor Vehicle, even if you are guilty, you and your lawyer can explore options to get a favorable outcome.

Need Help? Contact Our Office Today

If you’ve been charged for driving with a suspended license, give me a call for a free consultation. I am an experienced NYC unlicensed driving attorney who can assess your case to determine the best path forward. Contact our office today to discuss your legal options.