I read an article today about a man arrested on drunk driving charges who hasn’t had a valid license since 1979 and who was driving with 23 suspensions on his license when he was stopped on the recent charges.
The story was an excellent example of how some situations involving driving while suspended are just more serious and will result in different penalties than others.
Aggravated Unlicensed Operation (AU0) is a criminal charge of driving while your license is suspended or revoked. The law sets three degrees of severity based on the quantity of suspensions or revocations on your record, the basis of the suspensions or revocations and certain factors that may have been in play such as driving under the influence or operating certain commercial vehicles.
The third degree is the least severe, punishable with a fine of up to $500 and up to 30 days in jail. The second degree is next, punishable with a fine of up to $1000 and up to 180 days in jail. The first degree is the most serious with a fine of up to $5000 and potentially a few years imprisonment based on a few different factors.
The third and second degree charges are misdemeanors. AUO in the first degree is a class E felony.
The man arrested with the 23 suspensions is a classic AUO in the first degree charge.
If you are charged with anything criminal, at some point during the proceedings there will usually be a plea bargain discussion with the Prosecutor. It’s during these discussions that you really see the difference between the various degrees of AUO. For example, compare the person who missed a letter in the mail about a traffic ticket and now has a late fine payment due to the man with the 23 suspensions. While a Prosecutor may easily be swayed to drop the criminal charges against the otherwise law abiding person guilty of a small oversight, he may not be as cooperative when the defendant has repeatedly shown failure to be a responsible license holder and driver and has continued to drive despite clear knowledge that he was prohibited from doing so.
Regardless of the degree of AUO charged, we break our defense down to two parts.
1. The AUO case itself. We need to stay timely with the proceedings and work towards a successful resolution with the Prosecutor.
2. The suspension(s). We need to get that license cleared ASAP and what it takes to do that differs on a case by case basis depending on a few different factors. If we want to have a successful and productive dialog with the Prosecutor, we want to be able to show that we’ve at least cleared any problems that existed at the time of arrest.
We’ve had a great deal of success defending all degrees of AUO but it’s important that people recognize that no all situations involving driving while suspended or revoked are the same.