Desk Appearance Ticket for Aggravated Unlicensed Operation of a Motor Vehicle in the Third Degree, Vehicle and Traffic Law (VTL) 511(1)(a)

Posted By Galluzzo & Arnone LLP || 23-Jul-2012

Every year thousands of people get arrested in New York for crimes and offenses relating to their driving licenses or driving privileges. One of the most common of these offenses is Aggravated Unlicensed Operation of a Motor Vehicle in the Third Degree under VTL (Vehicle and Traffic Law) Section 511(1)(a). Sometimes the police will arrest their suspect and force him to spend a night in jail, but sometimes the suspect is fortunate enough to receive a Desk Appearance Ticket requiring him to show up for his arraignment on another date.

The text of the statute is as follows:

Aggravated Unlicensed Operation Motor Vehicle – 3rd Degree
511. Operation while license or privilege is suspended or revoked; aggravated unlicensed operation.

1. Aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle in the third degree.

  1. A person is guilty of the offense of aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle in the third degree when such person operates a motor vehicle upon a public highway while knowing or having reason to know that such person’s license or privilege of operating such motor vehicle in this state or privilege of obtaining a license to operate such motor vehicle issued by the commissioner is suspended, revoked or otherwise withdrawn by the commissioner.
  2. Aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle in the third degree is a misdemeanor. When a person is convicted of this offense, the sentence of the court must be:
    1. a fine of not less than two hundred dollars nor more than five hundred dollars; or
    2. a term of imprisonment of not more than thirty days; or
    3. both such fine and imprisonment.
  3. When a person is convicted of this offense with respect to the operation of a motor vehicle with a gross vehicle weight rating of more than eighteen thousand pounds, the sentence of the court must be:
    1. a fine of not less than five hundred dollars nor more than fifteen hundred dollars; or
    2. a term of imprisonment of not more than thirty days; or
    3. both such fine and imprisonment.

You may hold a valid driver's license from another state, but that does not matter from New York's perspective. For example, if a person with a New Jersey license receives parking tickets or speeding tickets on New York territory and fails to pay those tickets, for that New Jersey person's privilege to drive in New York could be suspended, thus making it illegal for that person to drive in New York even if his New Jersey license is perfectly valid in New Jersey.

One’s licenses can be suspended for a wide variety of reasons. Unpaid speeding tickets are the most common reason, but letting one’s insurance lapse or failing to pay child support can also result in a suspension or revocation. Sustaining an arrest or conviction for DUI/DWI or drugs can also trigger a suspension of driving privileges in certain cases. The prosecution typically proves that a defendant knew that his/her license was suspended by either getting an admission from the defendant during his arrest or by showing that the notice was sent by the DMV to the proper address, but can also use other techniques and evidence.

Fortunately, in our experience, if the defendant in an Aggravated Unlicensed Operation of a Motor Vehicle in the Third Degree case does not have a serious criminal record (or none at all) and has not previously been arrested or convicted for a traffic-related crime, the prosecution will allow the defendant to plead guilty to a non-criminal violation such as Unlicensed Driving (Vehicle and Traffic Law Section 509) with a fine upon first demonstrating that the problems with the DMV have been resolved - i.e. the appropriate fines and tickets have been paid.

If you or a loved one have been arrested or issued a Desk Appearance Ticket for Aggravated Unlicensed Operation of a Motor Vehicle, you should strongly consider contacting an experienced criminal defense attorney immediately. In particular, an experienced attorney may be able to help you put yourself in a position to resolve the case favorably at your first court appearance; on the other hand, showing up unprepared and without an attorney virtually guarantees that you will have to make multiple court appearances to take care of the matter in a satisfactory way.

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