In order to legally drive with a NY State driver license, the status of one’s license needs to be “valid”, not suspended. If you are caught driving in NY while your license is suspended, you are likely to be criminally charged with Aggravated Unlicensed Operation. This can be a misdemeanor or a felony depending on how many suspensions a person has and/or the reason for the suspension(s). Misdemeanor or felony, both are way more serious than a mere traffic “violation” and will result in a permanent criminal record if convicted.
People are often surprised to hear that they can have multiple suspensions on one single driver license. It’s simple. Fail to answer a traffic ticket or pay a fine and there will be a suspension on your license until you answer that ticket or pay that fine. Fail to answer 20 traffic tickets or pay 20 different fines and there will be 20 individual suspensions on your license. It’s like this for anything that can cause your license to be suspended. Do it more than once and there will be more than one suspension on the record.
A Queens man was in the news recently for piling up an impressive number of suspensions. According to reports, Edwin F. Williams had 38 active suspensions on his driving record when a police officer pulled him over on I-81. Police originally stopped Williams for speeding. After running his record, they discovered more than three dozen active suspensions. Williams was ultimately cited for first degree aggravated unlicensed operation in addition to speeding. AUO in the first degree is a felony and it was the proper section of law here due to the large number of suspensions.
The number of suspensions involved is not only important as far as the severity of the charges is concerned. This will also play a role in how the Prosecutor views your case and how the plea bargain process may proceed. A Prosecutor will give different consideration to someone who may have not realized they were suspended due to an oversight or forgotten ticket compared to someone who couldn’t possible make such an argument (like someone who claims to have “forgotten” 38 different cases).
Two takeaways from Mr. Williams story. One, don’t let yourself get suspended. You’re going to need to take care of any tickets or other issues sooner or later so you might as well stay on top of things. Don’t ignore tickets and deadlines as they just become bigger problems down the road. Second, if you are suspended, do not drive until you are “valid” again. Losing your driver license is certainly inconvenient and potentially costly but making alternative transportation arrangements is necessary in order to avoid potentially bigger legal problems in the future.
If you are ticketed on a New York roadway, or have a suspension you need assistance with, call the team at Feifer & Greenberg. We can help you fight to get you and keep your driving.