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Aggravated unlicensed operation explained

August 6, 2011
By DAVE WERNER , Adirondack Daily Enterprise

Frequently, in the police report of our newspapers, we see arrests for "aggravated unlicensed operation." Just what does this mean, and what are the penalties?

A driver is cited for AUO for operating a motor vehicle while his/her license or privilege is suspended or revoked and is covered in article 511 of New York State Vehicle and Traffic Law.

There are three degrees of AUO. A person is guilty of AUO in the third degree when they operate a motor vehicle on a public highway in New York state while their license or their privilege of obtaining a license has been suspended, revoked or withdrawn by the Department of Motor Vehicles. This is a misdemeanor and the court must sentence the violator to a fine of $200-$500, or imprisonment up to 30 days, or both.

A person is charged with AUO in the second degree, also a misdemeanor, for operating a motor vehicle while their license has been suspended and/or revoked AND any of the following:

1.Convicted of a prior AUO within 18 months - penalty must be a fine of not less than $500 and imprisonment up to 180 days or a sentence of probation, which could also include jail.

2.Prior license suspension or revocation was for an alcohol or drug related conviction or a refusal to submit to a chemical test (breathalyzer) - fine escalates to $500 to $1,000 and must include imprisonment between 7 and 180 days or probation which may also include jail time.

3.Charged when prior suspension was for a mandatory suspension pending prosecution for an alcohol or drug related offense. Penalties are similar to No. 2.

4.Charged when there are three or more prior suspensions on separate dates - penalties again similar to No. 2.

AUO in the first degree, a class E felony, is the most serious of AUO violations.

The sanctions for this offense are: a fine from $500 to $5,000 plus imprisonment under Penal Law. This is a fingerprintable offense and is reported to the Department of Criminal Justice System. AUO in the first degree is charged when:

1.A driver has a prior AUO in the second degree under 2, 3, or 4 above and is also charged with an alcohol or drug violation under article 1192 of V and T Law, operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

2.A driver has had 10 or more suspensions or revocations on separate dates.

3.A driver is operating while his/her license is permanently revoked under article 1193-2(b) (12), relating to DWI and/or refusing to take a chemical test.

One last point to consider - if you allow someone whose license has been suspended or revoked to operate your vehicle, you are guilty under article 511-a, "Facilitating aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle", and depending on the case, sanctions range from $200 to $5,000 with imprisonment up to 180 days under V and T Law or determined by Penal Law in some cases. Impoundment of your vehicle is also an option under this violation.

A driver's license is a privilege, not a right, and penalties are severe for operating a motor vehicle in New York state without a license.

For more articles on vehicle and traffic law and traffic safety, go to the Traffic Safety Board website at:


Dave Werner can be reached at



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