Motor vehicles are practically a requirement for modern life. While some people in major cities may take public transportation and other choose to ride share or use taxi services, most people depend on their own vehicles to get them where they need to go. From heading into work to taking your kids to the doctor, you rely on your vehicle for just about every facet of life. However, the courts can suspend or revoke your license if you plead guilty or get convicted of certain criminal offenses.
When you lose your license due to a criminal infraction, such as driving while intoxicated (DWI), or an administrative issue, such as an inability to pay fines, your life doesn't stop demanding that you show up. That can leave you in a situation where you feel like you don't have a choice but to get behind the wheel without a valid license. Choosing to do that, however, could cause you much bigger legal issues in the future.
New York considers unlicensed operation of a vehicle a crime
In New York, driving without a valid license is a crime, even if you don't break any traffic laws, hurt anyone or cause any kind of traffic issues. In most cases, driving while you have a suspended license is an offense called Aggravated Unlicensed Operation. This charge is a misdemeanor offense, which can carry a fine of between $200 and $500, up to 30 days in jail and up to 30 days of probation.
If you have three or more legal reasons contributing to your suspension, that increases the charge and penalties. The charges become Aggravated Unlicensed Operation in the 2nd Degree, which can result in a fine of between $500 and $1,000, up to 180 days in jail and probation.
Driving without a license may be a felony offense
For those who have 10 or more revocations or suspensions on their record, the offense becomes Aggravated Unlicensed Operation in the First Degree. That charge is a felony, not a misdemeanor. The penalties involved with this charge can include a fine of between $500 and $5,000, between one and four years in prison and the potential seizure and forfeiture of your vehicle.
That means that the courts can order your vehicle sold and retain the proceeds of the sale. These penalties can also apply to anyone convicted of impaired driving while his or her license is already suspended for a previous drug or alcohol offense or for refusing a roadside chemical test.
For those facing criminal charges related to driving with a license that has been suspended or revoked by the courts, the consequences are serious. These charges are not something to take lightly.