Driving without a license is a misdemeanor offense listed under Section 509 of the New York Vehicle and Traffic Code (VTC). Violations will result in the following penalties:
  • A monetary fine not less than $75 and no greater than $300, OR
  • Imprisonment for a time period not to exceed 15 days, OR
  • Both the fine and jail time
A fine of up to $40 may also be imposed if the person failed to renew a valid license within 60 days of its expiration. 

Driving with a license that is suspended or has been revoked is a more serious offense which results in greater consequences. New York also has stricter laws dealing specifically with the unlicensed operation of vehicles for hire, such as taxicabs and limousines. 

I’ve heard of “Aggravated Unlicensed Operation”. What is this?

New York laws impose even more severe penalties for offenses that fall into the category of “aggravated unlicensed operation”, or AUO. According to Section 511 of the VTC, aggravated unlicensed operation violations may be classified as either 1st, 2nd, or 3rd degree, with 3rd being the least serious and 1st being the most serious offense. 


Penalties for AUO violations consist of escalating fine amounts and jail terms, with 3rd degree having the least amount in fines and 1st degree having the most amounts. The different degrees involve a variety of factors:

  • 3rd Degree AUO: Knowingly operating a vehicle with a suspended or revoked license. 
  • 2nd Degree: Deals with a wide range of offenses, including previous license suspensions, repeat violations, alcohol infractions, and failure to appear in court or pay a fine.
  • 1st Degree: This is actually a Class E felony and deals with previous 2nd degree violations as well as operating a vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. 

Depending on the severity of the offense, penalties for AUO violations may include fines ranging anywhere from $500 to $5000, jail sentences not to exceed 180 days, and/or mandatory probation.

Are there any defenses available?

For aggravated unlicensed operation violations, it is valid defense if the defendant can prove that at the time of the offense they had a valid license issued in a foreign country or in another state or jurisdiction. 

Should I consult with a New York lawyer regarding a violation?

Among the U.S. states, New York has some of the strictest driver’s license requirements. Therefore the services of a lawyer may be necessary to ensure that you are properly represented in court of law. This is especially true if the charge deals with a 1st Degree AUO violation, which is a serious felony offense. An attorney can help you negotiate the penalty terms specific to your situation and any possible defenses. A qualified New York attorney can provided you more information if there is a legal basis for your case.