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What Does Aggravated Unlicensed Operation Mean in New York?

You may have seen local news reports talking about New Yorkers getting arrested for “aggravated unlicensed operation” and wondered, what exactly does that mean?

Aggravated unlicensed operation, or AUO, is simply operating a motor vehicle when your driver’s license has been suspended or revoked. But, like other crimes, there are different degrees of AUO.

Third-degree AUO is a misdemeanor and the least serious degree. Drivers operating a motor vehicle on any public highway in the state of New York with a suspended, revoked or withdrawn license are charged with third-degree AUO. Punishment is usually a fine between $200 and $500 and imprisonment for 30 days or less.

Second-degree AUO is also a misdemeanor. Charges of second-degree AUO occur when drivers are not only caught driving without a valid license, but also have one of the following:

  • A prior AUO conviction within the last 18 months
  • A license suspension or revocation due to a drug or alcohol-related conviction (like a DWAI or DWI) or because they did not submit to a breathalyzer test
  • License suspension that occurred while awaiting prosecution on a drug or alcohol-related charge
  • Three or more past suspensions on different dates

Punishment for second-degree AUO is a fine between $500 and $1,000 and up to six months probation or jail time.

First-degree AUO is a felony and the most serious degree. Punishment for first degree AUO is a fine between $500 and $5,000 and a prison term. Charges of first-degree AUO occur when a 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
  • Has 10 or more license suspensions on different dates
  • Was operating the vehicle after his or her license was already been permanently revoked for a DWI conviction or for refusing a breathalyzer

It is also possible to be cited with a related fine even if you are not the driver yourself. Registered car owners can be charged under New York state law if they let someone with a suspended or revoked license drive their vehicle. Punishment for such a fine ranges between $500 and $5,000 and up to six months in jail. There is also a chance that the vehicle will be impounded.

It is important to remember that having a driver’s license is a privilege and the punishments are severe for driving without one. If you are charged with AUO it is important to immediately contact a traffic ticket defense attorney in New York state.

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