If you were ticketed for driving with a suspended or revoked license in New York, you are facing an Aggravated Unlicensed Operation charge. In New York, a person is guilty of aggravated unlicensed operation when such person operates a motor vehicle upon a public highway while knowing or having reason to know that such person's license is suspended, revoked or otherwise withdrawn. NY Vehicle and Traffic Law §511
Aggravated Unlicensed Operation (AUO) is Different From Other Traffic Tickets
a) AUO is a Criminal Charge
While a police officer or trooper may tell you that the ticket is no big deal, AOU is a serious
offense because it is a criminal charge. Most tickets are "traffic infractions" and NY law specifically states that all "traffic infractions" are non-criminal offenses. If you are convicted of speeding, for example, if someone should ever ask you if you have ever been convicted of a crime, you can and should say "no."
An AUO, on the other hand, is a misdemeanor and would be a criminal conviction.
b) You Must Appear in Court
If you look toward the bottom of the ticket underneath the court and address, you will see "Must appear in person on:" checked. Because you are facing a criminal charge with an AUO, you must appear in the town, village, or city criminal court for an arraignment.
At your arraignment, the judge will inform you of the charges against you and ask you to enter a plea. You will plead not guilty and the judge will adjourn the case to give you time to find a lawyer or will assign you counsel if you cannot afford one.
Steps to Resolve an Aggravated Unlicensed Operation Charge
1) Get Your Driving Record
Your driving record or "DMV abstract", lists the courts that have reported a suspension of your license. Courts notify the DMV to suspended your license when you fail to appear to answer a ticket or if you have failed to pay a fine assessed by the court. Order Your NY DMV Abstract Online.
The DMV will also suspend your license for a failure to pay a DMV "Driver Responsibility Assessment." A driver responsibility assessment is a fine due once a year for three years for drivers who have been convicted of a DWI or DWAI or who have accumulated 6 or more points in any 18 month period.
2) Clear the Suspensions
Each court on the abstract must be contacted to find out why the court reported a suspension. If it was for a failure to pay a fine, you must pay the fine and a suspension lift fee of $70. If the court suspended for failure to appear, you must pay the $70 suspension lift fee for each ticket pending in the court and then you will have to address the underlying tickets.
3) Resolve the AUO and Other Tickets
Once the underlying suspensions are cleared up, the prosecutor will begin negotiations regarding a plea in your case. The AUO always comes with at least one other ticket, and you will also need to resolve those tickets. If negotiations fail, you will plea as charged or proceed to trial.