Aggravated Unlicense Operation – A Lawyer’s Roadmap


A-IconAggravated Unlicensed Operation
Commonly referred to as “AUO”

Main Points:

  •  Do not drive again until your license is cleared;
  • AUO is a crime, and can result in a criminal conviction;
  • Obtain a copy of your driving record;
  • Save money by hiring a lawyer to simply review your case and give you instructions on how to handle it on your own.
  • Here’s a printable guide for people charged with AUO: Here.

One of the most common misdemeanor charges in lower courts is Aggravated Unlicensed Operation of a motor vehicle.  This charge is filed when a person is caught driving with a license that they know is suspended or revoked.  There are three levels or “degrees” of Aggravated Unlicensed Operation, first, second and third.

FAQ’s

Do I need a lawyer if I am charged with Aggravated Unlicensed Operation?

It depends.  If your license was suspended for a DWI related offense, the answer is yes.  An Attorney can help raise possible issues with the proof against you that will make it more likely that you will obtain a reduction. Even if your license was suspended for another reason, an attorney can make it easier to obtain a reduction, and guide you through the process of restoring your license.

At a minimum it may be worth while to call an attorney and ask him to review your case.  While this review may not be free, it may be worth your time and money to have him take a look, provide you with a road map to get through the case, and tell you what you should expect. Many attorneys will offer “limited scope” services which means they will tell you how to handle the case on your own. This may be all that you really need.

My license was actually suspended, so that means I’m guilty right?

Maybe, but the issue really comes down to whether you knew or should have known your license was suspended.  Even if the Prosecution can prove your guilt, they will likely be willing to reduce the charge if you clear up the problems with your license.

If I am charged with AUO, what should I do?

First, don’t drive again until your license is restored. The process of restoring your license depends on what caused the suspension to begin with.  You can start by either asking the Court in which you are charged for a copy of your Driving Abstract (the officer will have likely filed a copy when he charged you) or by going to the DMV and requesting an unofficial transcript of your driving record.

Once you have this transcript, you can review it and find out what is causing the suspension.  Look for “scofflaw” suspensions, and other outstanding charges or fines that led to your suspension. Your goal is to “clear” all the suspensions on your license by either appearing in court or paying the fines or fees that are outstanding.

Once you clear all of the suspensions, most prosecutors will agree to reduce the charges.  The degree or extent of the reduction may vary, and this is where retaining an attorney may be helpful.  In cases where there are few suspensions, and the charge is not a result of a DWI, an attorney may still be able to obtain a much greater reduction than you would on your own.  Attorneys that are familiar with the common issues in these cases will be able to identify them and present a more favorable defense to the prosecutor and Court, which should lead to a better deal.

If you were suspended because you failed to appear in Court, then you will have to contact the Court in question and make arrangements to appear. You do not have to plead guilty to a charge to have the suspension lifted, you merely have to appear in court and pay a fee to have the suspension lifted.  Then that court will schedule your case for further proceedings to allow you to handle the ticket.  Once the suspension is lifted by your appearance, you will have “cleared” that suspension.  Make sure to get a receipt from the Court to prove your suspension is lifted.

If your license is suspended for failing to pay a fine on a prior conviction then you will have to pay the entire fine before the suspension will be lifted.

Make sure that you keep all of your receipts, and if you can, make a copy for the Court.  Bring your receipts with you for your attorney.

An experience attorney will be able to get the AUO case delayed to allow you some time to clear your license.

What will it cost to hire an attorney for an AUO?

It really depends on the number of hours that will be required.   If you clear up your license quickly, and have the ability to prove that, then you can anticipate fees of less than $500.00.  If your suspensions and revocations are more complex, you may have to go to court a number of times before the Court agrees to a reduction.  That means your fees may be greater.  In general, legal fees on a AUO in Western New York range from $250 to $1500.

The most common charge is Aggravated Unlicensed Operation in the Third Degree (New York State Vehicle and Traffic Law Section 511(1)(a).

The Law

Aggravated Unlicensed Operation of a Motor Vehicle in the Third Degree

Statute:        511(1)(a)
Offense Level:    Unclassified Misdemeanor
Is this a crime?    Yes
Maximum sentence:        30 days
Maximum fine:        $250 to $500.00.
When it’s charged:        When your license is suspended for failing to pay a fine or                 for not showing up to court on a traffic ticket.

Aggravated Unlicensed Operation of a Motor Vehicle in the Second Degree

Statute:        511(2)(a)
Offense Level:    Unclassified Misdemeanor
Is this a crime?    Yes
Maximum sentence:        180 days
Maximum fine:        $500.00 to $1000.00
When it’s charged:        When your license is suspended for three or more failure to appears, a DWI refusal suspension, or where you’ve previously been charged with AUO 3d.

Aggravated Unlicensed Operation of a Motor Vehicle in the First Degree

Statute:        511(3)(a)
Offense Level:    Class “E” Felony
Is this a crime?    Yes
Maximum sentence:        1.33 years to four years
Maximum fine:        $500.00 to $5000.00
When it’s charged:        When your license is suspended for ten or more failure to appears, your license is suspended and you are driving while intoxicated, or when your license has been permanently revoked for a DWI related offense.

An experienced criminal defense attorney will be able to efficiently and effectively guide you through the process.  Many Attorneys will have the ability to run your license with the DMV, once you give them permission.  This can save you time and money.  The attorney can then review your case and give you precise instructions on the procedure required to get your license cleared.

James Quinn Auricchio, Esq., is a Criminal Defense Attorney with Offices in West Seneca and Buffalo, NY.  He can be reached at 716-941-4336.  He offers free initial consultations, and for a reduced fee will review an AUO charge and provide instructions where it appears that it is not necessary to retain him for an appearance in Court.