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Feifer & Greenberg, LLP
Call Us: (888) 842 - 5384

man-shows-drivers-license-and-vehicle-license-during-a-checkAggravated unlicensed operation, often abbreviated to “AUO”, is a fairly serious criminal charge in the state of New York. An AUO describes a situation where you are discovered to have been driving while you have a suspended or revoked license. Typically, this occurs when you are pulled over for another type of suspected moving violation and the traffic officer runs your license, only to realize you should not be driving at all.

Even if your suspension resulted from a non-criminal moving violation or other type of non-criminal offense, AUO is a criminal charge. It has three levels of severity. The third-degree and second-degree versions of AUO are misdemeanors, while AUO in the first degree is a class E felony.

You can find the exact wording of the aggravated unlicensed operation offense in §511 of the New York State Vehicle and Traffic Laws.

Feifer & Greenberg, L.L.P., can provide you with criminal defense representation in the event that you are charged with aggravated unlicensed operation in New York. While it may seem easy for the prosecution to prove a person was driving with a suspended or revoked license or privilege, there are actually some difficult hurdles for them to overcome before obtaining a conviction. By using available defenses or arranging a plea bargain, we strive to help our clients avoid a criminal conviction when possible and help reduce the charges and penalties to their lowest severity when a conviction is unavoidable.

If you have been charged with aggravated unlicensed operation (AUO) in New York, you can speak with experienced New York motor vehicle crime lawyers to learn about your legal options and available defense strategies. Call us today at (888) 842-5384 or contact us online to schedule your free, confidential, no-obligation case review.

The Three Degrees of Aggravated Unlicensed Operation (AUO) in New York

The main text of the aggravated unlicensed operation (AUO) described in §511 says that:

A person is guilty of the offense of aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle in the third degree when such person operates a motor vehicle upon a public highway while knowing or having reason to know that such person’s license or privilege of operating such motor vehicle in this state or privilege of obtaining a license to operate such motor vehicle issued by the commissioner is suspended, revoked or otherwise withdrawn by the commissioner.

There are three varying degrees of severity for the crime of aggravated unlicensed operation (AUO) in New York. The charge you get can relate to the reasons your license was suspended or revoked in the first place, but they can also relate to the circumstances under which you were charged and arrested for AUO.

Aggravated Unlicensed Operation (AUO) in the Third Degree

AUO in the third degree is the least-severe version of the charge. You will be charged with the third-degree version of the crime if you are found to have been operating a motor vehicle on a public road, “while knowing or having reason to know,” that your driving privileges were suspended or revoked but you do not meet the conditions described in §511-2 or §511-3, which describe the second-degree and first-degree versions of the crime, respectively.

AUO in the third degree is a criminal misdemeanor. Penalties include a $200 – $500 fine and/or imprisonment of up to 30 days.

Anyone committing an AUO third-degree offense while operating a large vehicle with a gross vehicle weight of over 18,000 lbs will receive harsher penalties. These include a $500 – $1,500 fine and/or imprisonment of up to 30 days.

Aggravated Unlicensed Operation (AUO) in the Second Degree

You will be charged with AUO in the second degree if you meet the third-degree conditions along with any of the following conditions:

  • You have received an AUO conviction within the last 18 months
  • Your license was originally suspended or revoked because of a refusal to submit to a chemical test for drugs or alcohol related to the implied consent laws described in §1194
  • Your license was originally suspended or revoked because of a driving under the influence violation as described in §1192 or §1193
  • You have had three or more suspensions for failure to answer, appear or pay a fine, as mentioned in §226-3 or §510-4a

AUO in the second degree is also a misdemeanor charge. A conviction can result in the following penalties: 

  • Multiple AUO convictions: a fine of at least $500, imprisonment for up to 180 days
  • Any other prior condition: a $500 – $1000 fine, imprisonment for 7 to 180 days, a probationary period, and/or an imprisonment sentence of the equivalent length of any current probationary period you were already on

Aggravated Unlicensed Operation (AUO) in the First Degree

AUO in the first degree is a very weighty charge and a class E felony. It occurs when:

  • You commit an AUO in the second degree while under the influence of drugs or alcohol
  • You commit an AUO in the third degree while having ten or more suspension for failure to  answer, appear or pay a fine, as mentioned in §226-3 or §510-4a
  • You commit an AUO in the third degree while you have a license that has been permanently revoked related to a DUI as described in §1193-2b-12
  • You operate a motor vehicle under the influence while you have a conditional license as described in §1196

Penalties for a first-degree AUO include: a $500 – $5000 fine, a class E felony prison sentence related to the specific violation conditions, and/or probation.

Why Fight Your Aggravated Unlicensed Operation (AUO) Charges

AUO is a very serious crime. Since it is related to penalties for prior crimes, it can be difficult to request leniency in sentencing or arrange plea bargains since you have demonstrated that you are willing to continually commit violations despite past consequences.

If you do not secure legal representation, it can be difficult to arrange a defense, a plea bargain, or argue for reduced charges when facing an AUO. The judge and/or prosecution in the case may see you as a repeat offender who is likely to continue making mistakes.

Hiring an experienced NY traffic violation attorney allows you to have a third party represent you who may be able to approach judges and prosecutors in a more favorable light. More importantly, their experience with arguing past cases can allow you to form a criminal defense strategy to avoid a criminal conviction or, at very least, seek to reduce your charges or penalties.

Possible Defenses for Aggravated Unlicensed Operation (AUO) in New York

Seemingly minor details can make or break a prosecutor’s case, and your attorney will use every available opportunity to leverage these discrepancies. For instance, you may be able to demonstrate that you could not have reasonably known about your suspension, or you could argue that you were not in fact operating the vehicle at the time of your arrest. 

Other possible defense avenues include arguing that due process was violated, that the chain of custody was not followed in a way that preserved the integrity of evidence, or that key points of fact are incorrect, or that decisions that led to the traffic stop in the first place were made in error.

Work With Experienced New York Traffic Violation Attorneys to Fight Your AUO Charge

Getting convicted of AUO can make your life very difficult, especially if you were to face prosecution for any reason further down the line. The seriousness of the charges can also mean a permanent revocation of your license, a costly probation violation, extended jail time, and even a felony record.

Feifer & Greenberg wants to assist you with your case any way we can. We can provide you with an optimal defense strategy based on your case circumstances and available leverage points. At very least, we can negotiate with the prosecution to try and secure a plea bargain that works in the favor of all parties.

Call  (888) 842-5384 or contact us online to speak with an experienced NY traffic crime lawyer who can answer your questions and provide guidance during an absolutely free, no obligation case review.


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We have organized a statewide network of attorneys. In our network are both attorneys who work for Feifer & Greenberg and attorneys who work for other firms that regularly provide of-counsel representation to our clients. This statewide network allows us to match clients in a particular county or court with local attorneys who regularly appear on similar matters in the same county or court. It enables us to help clients anywhere in New York State and in our opinion provide particularly effective and affordable representation for our clients. Local attorneys can draw on their particular local experiences and, with travel time and expense removed from the equation, help us keep our legal fees low.

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