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Expired License, Suspended License, or No License at All: Which is Worse?

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If you frequent this blog, you likely understand that driving on a suspended or revoked license can carry serious consequences. However, is there a difference between driving on a suspended license and driving on an expired license – or worse, without ever having obtained a license at all? Of the three scenarios, which is the most severe?

Unlicensed Operator – VTL 509-1

Driving without a license or with an expired license is illegal under VTL 509-1, also known as unlicensed operation. A ticket for either driving without a license or driving with a driver’s license that expired more than 60 days before you were pulled over costs between $75 and $300, plus a mandatory state surcharge of $88 to $93 . There’s also the possibility of up to 15 days in jail, although this is unlikely. If your license has been expired for less than 60 days, the fine ranges from $0 to $40 plus the mandatory NYS Surcharge referenced above.

Sometimes 509 tickets are issued to drivers caught driving while suspended (see below) as a “roadside reduction” or a break that the officer decides to give you in his own discretion. Instead of writing you up for a more serious offense which is a crime. In other cases, you might be pulled over for a different offense (e.g. speeding) but while the officer runs your license he notices your license is expired and will issue you two tickets, one for speeding and another ticket for driving with an expired license. The same is true if you have never held a valid license but are still caught driving.

The only defense to 509-1 is that you actually had a valid driver’s license that was not expired.

Driving With a Suspended License – VTL 511

The consequences of 509-1 are far less severe compared to the consequences of driving with a suspended or revoked license. Under VTL 511 the charge for this is aggravated unlicensed operation (AUO). A conviction means you will have a criminal record. You could also face a fine of up to $500 and 30 days of jail time for the basic offense known as Aggravated Unlicensed Operation in the 3rd Degree. The next level up is also a misdemeanor and that’s known as AUO in the 2nd Degree. Finally, under certain circumstances you could be charged with AUO in the 1st Degree which is a felony with a fine of between $1,000 and $5,000, plus up to four years in prison. You can read more about VTL 511 in our ebook.

Can You Be Charged With Driving While Suspended If You Never Had a License?

According to at least one case, yes. People v. Rivera dealt with just this situation and concluded that since the statute applies to both those with a suspended license as well as a suspended driving privilege, so if your privilege to drive (obtain a license) is suspended or revoked for some reason, and you are caught driving while suspended or revoked, you could get charged with violating VTl 511.

How Do I Get My Driver’s License Back After Expiration, Suspension or Revocation?

Unlike a trying to reinstate a suspended license, renewing an expired license is a relatively easy matter. For a license that has been expired for less than two years, simply head to the DMV or go on their website and pay the renewal fee (you will need to create an account but that sure beats waiting on a long line at the DMV). In most of New York that costs $64.50. Thanks to something called the Metropolitan Commuter Transportation District (MCTD) fee, it costs $80.50 in Manhattan and surrounding counties, including the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island, Dutchess, Nassau, Suffolk, Orange, Putnam, Rockland, and Westchester. If it has been more than two years, you will have to apply for your license all over again. That means taking a pre-licensing course, the written exam, and the road test.

Unfortunately, there is nothing simple about reinstating a suspended or revoked license. In many cases, you will either need to wait out the suspension period or hire an attorney to help get it back. If you or a loved one has been arrested for driving with a suspended license or any other traffic-related crime in New York, it is absolutely vital that you hire an attorney who can pursue every opportunity to restore your driving privileges. The attorneys of the Rosenblum Law have helped many people in similar situations. Call us at 888-203-2619 to schedule a free consultation with one of our attorneys.


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This post was written by Adam H. Rosenblum Esq.

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