Know Your Rights

The attorneys at the Benjamin Goldman Law Office defends its clients' rights inside and outside of the courtroom. Knowing your rights is the best defense, and it can mean the difference between a criminal record and a clean record. It can mean the difference between fines and fees in the thousands to fines of a few hundred dollars. It can mean the difference between loss of license and being clear to drive.

An AUO (Aggravated Unlicensed Operation) occurs under §511 of the Vehicle and Traffic Law, and there are three degrees of AUO: 3rd (least serious), 2nd and 1st (most serious).

Potential Fines and Penalties

Aggravated Unlicensed Operation comes with the following penalties and fines under New York State law:

  • AUO 3rd Degree (misdemeanor): $293 - $593 fine and up to 30 days in jail. CDL drivers face fines of $593 - $1,593 and up to 30 days in jail.
  • AUO 2nd Degree (misdemeanor): $593 - $1,093 fine and up to 180 days in jail.
  • AUO 1st Degree (felony): $593 - $5,093 fine and a maximum of 4 years in jail.

An AUO occurs due to driving with suspended driving privileges, a suspended license, revoked driving privileges, and a revoked license. Suspension can occur in a multitude of ways including but not limited to:

  • Not answering a traffic ticket
  • Not paying a traffic ticket fine
  • Not paying a driver assessment fee
  • Getting 11 points in 18 months
  • A conviction of certain violations during probationary period
  • Failure to pay child support
  • Unpaid NYS tax debts
  • Not maintaining automobile liability insurance
  • Not filing a motor vehicle accident report

Your Right to Drive in New York Can Be Suspended

A complex and complicated system of license suspension exists in New York. It is possible for another driver, for example, a driver licensed in New Jersey to have his or her driving privileges suspended in New York. You would not lose your license in New Jersey, but if you are caught driving with a New Jersey license that has had its New York privileges suspended, you can be changed with an AUO. This scenario can happen with drivers from all over the country. You may have ignored a New York traffic ticket, or you may have failed to pay New York’s driver responsibility assessment fee.

What is a Driver Responsibility Assessment?

If you are convicted of certain traffic offenses in New York or you received 6 points on your New York State driving record within an 18-month period, you will be required to pay an assessment fee.

The fee required varies based on the offense:

  • $100 per year for three years for having 6 points on your record in an 18-month period; $75 in additional payments per year for every point beyond the original six
  • $250 per year for three years for an alcohol or drug-related charge, or refusing to take a chemical test

These are two circumstances in which drivers may have their driving privileges suspended in New York while maintaining their driving privileges in other states. A lot of out-of-state drivers do not know their New York driving privileges have been suspended, resulting in a subsequent AUO charge.

Legal counsel is advised at this time to remove the misdemeanor from your record, although you maintain the right to represent yourself in court.

Q: I still need to drive to work! What if I can’t afford the fees to reinstate my license?

A: If your NY driver’s license was suspended but you need to be able to drive to work, contact an attorney right away to discuss your options. If you cannot afford the fees to reinstate your full driving privileges, you may be eligible for limited driving privileges, payment arrangements or other solutions. You should never drive with a suspended license, as doing so could mean you will face monetary fines, increased car insurance premiums, potentially longer suspension periods and even jail time. For more information click here.

Q: Will I Face Jail Time if Convicted of AUO?

Yes, if you are convicted of Aggravated Unlicensed Operation, jail time is a possibility. The odds decrease or increase depending on the severity of the AUO and motorists driving history. The penalties established by New York law for this misdemeanor include a monetary fine of between $200 - $500, jail time of up to 30 days, or both.

If your conviction resulted from charges when you were driving a vehicle with a weight of more than 18,000 pounds, such as a semi, tractor-trailer, dump truck, etc., the monetary fine amount increases. With this type of conviction, drivers can expect to face fines of between $500 - $1,500, up to 30 days in jail, or both. For multiple violations, drivers can face up to 180 days in jail. Hiring an experienced AUO attorney is a critical step in defending the charges.

See our blog for more information about the potential consequences of driving on a suspended license.