Experienced Defense for Drivers Charged with AUO in New York State
Driving a vehicle in the State of New York is a privilege, not a right. That privilege can be revoked or suspended by the state for a host of different reasons; during such revocation or suspension period, the affected person is not permitted to drive. If that person does drive while his or her license is suspended or revoked, he or she can be charged with and found guilty of aggravated unlicensed operation (AUO). AUO is actually a more serious charge than “unlicensed operation” – or driving when you have never been licensed to do so.
Three Degrees of AUO
As is the case with some other criminal charges, there are different degrees of AUO.
This is the least serious of the AUO offenses. It is committed when a driver operates a motor vehicle on any public highway in the state with a suspended, revoked, or withdrawn license. This offense is a misdemeanor and is usually punishable by the assessment of a fine (ordinarily $200 to $500). In some cases, however, the offender can be sentenced to jail for as long as 30 days.
This offense is also a misdemeanor. A person is guilty of second-degree AUO when he or she is not only caught driving with a suspended or revoked license, but one of the following is also the case:
- Within the past 18 months, the driver has been convicted of another AUO offense.
- The reason for the current suspension or revocation is a drug or alcohol-related conviction (e.g., a DWI or DWAI), or because the driver earlier refused to submit to a breathalyzer test.
- The license suspension occurred while the driver was awaiting prosecution on a drug or alcohol-related charge.
- The driver had three or more past suspensions.
Because this charge is more serious than the third degree violation, punishment includes a higher fine ($500-$1,000) and up to six months probation or actual jail time.
The most serious of the AUO charges, first-degree AUO is a felony. A person guilty of this charge can be fined up to $5,000. It is also quite possible that the court will impose a jail term for this offense. A person is generally guilty of first-degree AUO when he or she is not only caught driving with a suspended or revoked license, but one of the following is also the case:
- The driver has a past AUO in the second degree and was also charged with operating a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
- The driver has 10 or more license suspensions on different dates.
- The driver was operating the vehicle after his or her license has already been permanently revoked for a DWI conviction or for refusing a breathalyzer.
There are separate charges for a vehicle owner who allows someone with a suspended or revoked license to drive his or her vehicle. The owner can be subjected to a fine of as much as $5,000 and a sentence of up to six months in jail.
Reasons for Suspension or Revocation Are Quite Broad
New York law contains a veritable laundry list of reasons for suspension or revocation of a driver’s license. Included among the list are the following:
- Failure to answer a traffic ticket or pay a fine
- Accrual of excessive “points” on your driving record within a period of 18 months
- Lapse of insurance coverage
- Refusing a breathalyzer test
- Conviction of driving without liability insurance
- Accrual of an excessive number of speeding tickets within a period of 18 months
An Aggravated Unlicensed Operation Charge is a Very Serious Matter
When it comes to enforcement of its motor vehicle laws, the State of New York maneuvers with a big stick. The penalties are serious and they can be expensive. Driving while your license has either been suspended or revoked can carry severe penalties. If you have been charged with AUO or any other serious driving offense, you owe it to yourself to retain the best legal team available. The attorneys at E. Stewart Jones Hacker Murphy have the judgment and experience to negotiate the best possible plea, and we also have the skill and tenacity required to take your case to trial, if necessary.
We are one of the most highly respected law firms in upstate New York and the Capital District. We have been representing clients for more than 125 years; our law practice has stood the test of time. Make the right call. Call us now at (518) 284-3183 or complete our online form. The E. Stewart Jones Hacker Murphy law firm has an attorney available to assist clients 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year – even on holidays.